Sunday, September 5, 2010
What we learned from Notre Dame
By Brian Bennett
What we learned about Notre Dame in its 23-12 win over Purdue:
1. Runs, too, shall pass: So much attention was put on new coach Brian Kelly's pass-based offense. But the opener proved that the Irish can run the ball too. In fact, they ran it 10 more times than they passed it, with Armando Allen and Cierre Wood combining for 151 yards on 25 attempts (six yards per carry). Notre Dame will need to continue to run the ball effectively to beat the physical teams on its schedule.
2. The defense does have depth: One of Notre Dame's biggest concerns, and the coaches acknowledged it, was a lack of depth on defense. It didn't seem to be too much of a problem versus Purdue. Starting safety Jamoris Slaughter went out early with an injury, while linebacker Darius Fleming was sidelined often by cramping. But the defense simply filled in, and nose tackle Ian Williams said a solid rotation on the line kept him fresh. This is still a defense that can't afford too many injuries, but it may have more depth than originally thought.
3. Coaching matters: The Irish had only two penalties and one turnover. They were very solid on special teams and were well-conditioned when the fourth quarter hit. In other words, they looked like a solid all-around team for the first time in a long time. There is still much room for improvement, but the team appears on the right track under Brian Kelly.