Notre Dame Football: Kawann Short

Purdue and Notre Dame are both looking to go 2-0 as each returns quarterbacks from one-game suspensions. Is this the year the Boilermakers finally stop the bleeding against the in-state rival Irish, who have not lost to them since 2007? Let's take a closer look:

When Purdue has the ball: Caleb TerBush will get the start for the Boilermakers after being suspended from the opener, a 48-6 rout of Eastern Kentucky. Robert Marve was a big reason for that Week 1 success, completing 30 of 38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. He and Rob Henry will see some action as well, but just how much coach Danny Hope divvies up the reps remains to be seen. Hope said TerBush gets the first snap because of his improved decision-making. If he's smart, he'll look to attack Notre Dame's green cornerbacks, as the Irish gave up 192 passing yards Saturday to Navy.

When Notre Dame has the ball: The main question is just how much of a push the Irish can get up front against Purdue's strong front-seven. The offensive line may be Notre Dame's biggest strength, and it certainly looked that way in paving the way for 293 rushing yards Saturday against the Midshipmen. But this Saturday it is going up against a far different defense, one that returns three starters on the line, including tackles Bruce Gaston and All-Big Ten senior Kawann Short. Taking pressure off Everett Golson will again be key, allowing the redshirt freshman some time in the pocket to look for some of his big targets.

Intangible: This may sound familiar to Notre Dame fans, but turnovers are the key. The fact that the Boilermakers gave it away five times in their opener — against an FCS opponent, no less — has to concern Hope, especially with four of those turnovers coming from the quarterback position. Notre Dame, meanwhile forced five fumbles Saturday and recovered three. Last season the Irish forced just eight and recovered six in 13 games.

Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Purdue 13. Expect a tight, low-scoring contest early, with the Irish eventually establishing another strong effort on the ground to head into East Lansing at 2-0.
Week 2: Sept. 8 versus Purdue (at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Series: Notre Dame leads all-time, 72-12-2
2011 record: 7-6 (4-4 Big Ten; third place, Leaders Division)
Head coach: Danny Hope (16-21, three years)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Caleb TerBush, QB Robert Marve, QB Rob Henry, RB Akeem Shavers, RB Ralph Bolden, WR Antavian Edison, DT Bruce Gaston, OT Trevor Foy, DE Ryan Russell, DT Kawann Short, CB Ricardo Allen

Key losses

WR Justin Siller, LT Dennis Kelly, OG Nick Mondek, K Carson Wiggs, LB Joe Holland, S Albert Evans

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Bolden* (674 yards)
Passing: TerBush* (1,905 yards)
Receiving: Edison* (584 yards)
Tackles: Holland (94)
Sacks: Short* (6.5)
Interceptions: Allen* (3)

Three questions for ... Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg:

Simply, what do we make of the quarterback situation here? Purdue has three guys with starting experience, but that may make for an unhappy camper or two down the line.

Adam Rittenberg: It could, but Purdue is used to playing more than one quarterback. TerBush started throughout the 2011 season and enters camp at the No. 1 spot. Marve, the former Miami player, stepped in for TerBush at times last season and had some big moments, particularly in the overtime win against Ohio State. He has the most natural talent of the three but has struggled with injuries throughout his career. The most intriguing player, in my mind, is Henry, a tremendous athlete who nearly switched to safety in 2010 before becoming the team's starting quarterback after a rash of injuries. Henry had a tremendous offseason and was clearly the team's top option before tearing his ACL weeks before the 2011 season. His health is a major question mark, but he's a guy who gives Purdue different skills and can get the team to rally behind him. There's also a chance Henry lines up at other spots just to get his speed on the field.

While the situation is a bit unusual, both TerBush and Marve are veterans who have shared snaps before. I don't see there being too many problems.

Tim Tibesar is Purdue's third defensive coordinator in as many years. What is he expected to bring to the table, and why should fans expect the Boilermakers to be any better on defense this season?

AR: It was surprising to me -- and to a few Purdue players who expressed their frustrations on Twitter -- when Danny Hope dumped defensive coordinator Gary Emanuel after the season. The defense wasn't great last year (73rd nationally), but Emanuel had coached a line that produced first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan and now Kawann Short. Tibesar is an interesting choice, to say the least. He didn't have a great run as Kansas State's defensive coordinator, and then went to the CFL, where he fared well overseeing the defense for the Montreal Alouettes. If anything, he knows how to defend the spread because everyone runs it in the CFL -- and does so on a larger field. I'm particularly interested to see how Tibesar impacts the linebackers, a position he coaches. Purdue has underachieved a bit there in recent years, and if the group can take a step forward this fall, the overall defense should be very solid.

Given the changes on the offensive line and Bolden's recovery from knee surgery, how effective can the ground game be?

AR: Purdue remains a run-first team. The Boilers have an interesting offense -- part spread, part pro-style, a lot of motions and formations. They provide a defense with some unique looks. But they definitely want to run the ball and have several options, especially if Bolden gets healthy. Shavers, a junior college transfer, had a nice 2011 season and enters the fall as the team's top back and a co-captain. Hunt, at just 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, is a smaller, quicker guy who can do damage in space. Bolden would be a really nice addition as an experienced runner, but it's hard to count on him too much following his third ACL tear since his senior year in high school.

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