Sunday, September 27, 2009
What we learned from Notre Dame, Week 4
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
What we learned from Notre Dame's 24-21 win at Purdue on Saturday.
1. These guys sure aren't boring: You can certainly question whether Notre Dame's ability merits the attention it receives. But you can't argue that the Fighting Irish aren't entertaining. For the third straight week, their game came down to a play in the final minute, this time after a hobbling Jimmy Clausen led them on a touchdown drive that culminated with a pass to Kyle Rudolph with 24 seconds to go. There's no leaving a Notre Dame game early to beat the traffic.
2. The run defense can actually stop somebody: After letting teams plow through their defensive front most of the season, the Irish showed improvement at Purdue. Ralph Bolden came into the game as the nation's second-leading rusher but was held to just 67 yards on 17 carries. Notre Dame racked up eight tackles for loss, and the defensive linemen actually made some plays. Baby steps.
3. Many issues remain: The pass defense once again looked wobbly, especially late in the game. Tackling is still a problem. The longterm health of Clausen, who was severely limping after the game, is a huge question mark and will need to be closely watched this week before the Washington game. There's still the matter of finding another receiver to replace Michael Floyd. Notre Dame may be 3-1, but cracks in the foundation are easily visible.