Friday, September 7, 2012
Who will transform tomorrow?
By Matt Fortuna
Tyler Eifert turns 22 on Saturday. He probably won't be getting any gifts from Purdue.
Eifert's father, Greg, played basketball for Gene Keady and the Boilermakers in the early 1980s. A Fort Wayne, Ind., native, Tyler opted for Notre Dame instead.
Since arriving in South Bend, Eifert has set single-season school records for catches (63) and receiving yards (803) by a tight end, landing him on a number of All-America teams in 2011 and multiple watch lists entering this fall. But the senior had just four catches for 22 yards and a touchdown in the Irish's season-opening rout of Navy.
Still, Eifert did plenty of little things, from in-line blocking to freeing up new tight end Troy Niklas for a big pass in the second half, serving as a decoy. Eifert's value doesn't always show up in the box score, but that won't be the case this weekend.
Quarterback Everett Golson and the offensive line will face a much stiffer test against Purdue's defensive line than they did against Navy's, and that could lead to more improvising and more throws for the redshirt freshman signal-caller. Eifert is the man most likely to benefit from that, serving as a 6-foot-6, 251-pound security blanket.
Look for a big day for Eifert, not unlike many of the big days from his breakout junior season. He usually plays like the best tight end in college football, and on Saturday the box score will reflect that.