Notre Dame continues to improve on defense, and the Irish defense was strong for much of the game in a 27-13 victory over Purdue. Here's my initial post-game analysis of the Irish defense in the victory.
*** Notre Dame mixed up its coverage looks a lot more today, switching between man and zone, and for much of the game the Purdue offense couldn't get much going in this game.
*** Purdue came into this game averaging 344 passing yards per game and 8.8 yards per attempt. Notre Dame held Purdue to 291 passing yards and just 5.4 yards per attempt and 8.1 yards per completion. 72 of those yards came on the final two drives after Notre Dame went up 27-13 and backed off its pressures.
*** There were some coverage mistakes in the game but there were less frequent in this game. Purdue had some early looks that were successful, and on those plays the Irish defense was out-leveraged outside or they turned guys loose. The staff quickly adjusted, made the necessary changes and after that opening drive the Purdue offense didn't put another good drive together until its first drive of the second half.
*** Part of those adjustments were reacting to the Purdue screen game, which is a big part of its offense. They had some early success but the Irish made adjustments and blew up the screen game for the final three quarters.
*** Defensively it was clear the staff had a plan to keep David Bell from taking over the game, which was one of my keys to victory. Bell was held to just 64 yards on 7 catches (9.1 YPC).
*** The defensive line was once again very disruptive, and in the third quarter when the game was still in doubt they took over and completely shut Purdue down.
*** Veteran end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sack) was outstanding in the win. He was a force on the edge against the run, both as an edge setting and as a disrupter. When he was allowed to do so Tagovailoa-Amosa was able to shoot gaps and make big plays in the backfield. That allowed him to make a big stop in the backfield in the first half and also allowed him and linebacker Bo Bauer to force a fourth-down run outside.
*** End Isaiah Foskey was active and disruptive off the edge and added another half a sack to his season total. Justin Ademilola played both big end and Vyper and he had arguably the best game of his career. He sniffed out a throwback screen that was initially wide open, he had a big sack that helped stall a drive and he was active against the run. Ademilola had an early third-down pressure that also forced a scramble and a punt.
*** Nose tackle Kurt Hinish got sealed inside on one of Purdue's few longish runs of the game but otherwise he was active and effective at the point of attack.
*** Inside linebacker JD Bertrand had a big missed tackle in space early in the game and the two linebackers (Drew White) got beat up the seam by a slot receiver in the second half. Other than that I thought watching it live that both were much improved in coverage. Bertrand made up for his early coverage miss with a couple of impressive perimeter plays against the run and White was sound in coverage for much of the game. Bertrand's 3rd-and-1 stop on a swing route in the second quarter was huge.
*** Rovers Isaiah Pryor and Jack Kiser combined for 13 tackles and were very active in the game.
*** Last week was the lowest grade I've ever given safety Kyle Hamilton. I'd argue it was the worst game of his career, but like All-Americans do he rebounded with an outstanding performance. Hamilton finished with 10 tackles, two pass break ups and an interception. He was extremely good coming downhill, including taking advantage of MTA and Bauer forcing a bounce and blowing up a Purdue back behind the first down marker on a fourth-and-1 play
*** Purdue also tried a trick play in the first half that Hamilton blew up. Purdue threw a backwards pass outside but Hamilton sniffed it out, stayed on top of the route and allowed NaNa Osafo-Mensah to get the sack, which stalled another drive.
*** Safety DJ Brown struggled in the first two games but he was solid in this game as part of the nickel/dime package. I'm not even talking about his interception, which came off a tipped pass by Cam Hart. Brown was solid throughout the game.
*** Speaking of Cam Hart, he was a bit up-and-down, but he made a couple of big plays in the game, including a late pass break up that resulted in a game-clinching interception. Clarence Lewis had some positive moments but has to stop grabbing with his outside arm when he tries to break up passes. For the second game in a row he was in great position to force an incompletion (which he did), but for the second game he grabbed with his outside arm and was called for a pass interference in the end zone.
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