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Game Observations For The Notre Dame Offense In The Win Over Purdue

Analysis of the Notre Dame offense from its victory over Purdue
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It wasn't a pretty game for the offense, but the unit was able to make big plays and do what it needed to do to get the win. Here's my instant analysis of the victory from an offensive standpoint.

*** Notre Dame just could not get all the pieces going in the same direction today, but at the end of the day the offense was able to take advantage of some big plays to get the win.

*** It was another overall sloppy performance by the offense in all phases of the game. You had false starts, too many missed assignments, quarterbacks missing open targets, wide receivers dropping passes and the overall inability to just really click at any point.

*** My favorite play call today was the touchdown pass to Avery Davis. Notre Dame has been a running a similar trips concept all season, and on the previous looks the slot - which was Davis - would either run a corner route or a wide fade route to the outside. On this play, however, OC Tommy Rees had Davis show outside movement before he then broke inside on a post route. The Purdue defender thought he had the play sniffed out but Davis went in the opposite direction for the big play.

*** My second favorite call was the 4th-and-3 on the first score of the game. Prior to the snap Rees had the tight ends shift outside, which set up isolations inside. That put Kyren Williams in a one-on-one against a slot defender and it obviously resulted in a big play.

*** Notre Dame had some success hitting the outside throws today but the middle of the field action was not there. 

*** In the run game the offense just could not get anything going outside of the long run by Williams. What I liked is that the offensive line battled harder today than it had in the first two games, which is a positive sign. The execution, however, was not where it needed to be. Too many run throughs, not finishing blocks, missed assignments. Those mistakes need to be cleaned up, but again, the line still took a baby step in the right direction because at least this week they played hard.

*** Left tackle Tosh Baker and left guard Zeke Correll got a very good push on the touchdown run from Kyren Williams that allowed the Irish back to get to the second level, and Williams took over at that point.

*** The numbers were sexy but Williams and Chris Tyree ran well today. They maximized the yards that were available and when they did get room to work they maximized yards. Williams obviously made the big play of the game, breaking tackle after tackle on his way to a 51-yard run. Williams was the big play runner but early on he missed a couple of reads. Tyree was the more decisive runner but he didn't get the room to rip off the big play

*** Notre Dame's backs continue to big factors in the pass game. Williams and Tyree combined for six catches and 77 yards, and the backs had gains of 39 yards and 19 yards in the pass game. Williams executed a great inside win route to get free on the first touchdown, Coan threw him a perfect ball between two defenders and Williams made a defender miss en route to his first score of the game.

*** I like that Williams tried to stay in bounds on his final carry, but he has to have more field awareness and know he has the first down before sliding, or he needs to drive past the first down marker. But he ran very hard today and it seemed as though he played with even more of an edge after his fourth quarter fumble a week ago almost cost the team. That's what you want to see from your best players, bouncing back from a big mistake with game-winning plays.

*** Coan was off his game in the first half and was clearly effected by the pass rush. He was rushing throws against pressure and didn't look comfortable in the pocket, and the result was a very inconsistent and erratic first half. He finished the first half 9-22 for 86 yards, and although he had some drops he also missed throws he simply should not miss, including an open Kevin Austin on a go route late in the second quarter and Joe Wilkins Jr. on an in cut that also could have gone for a big play.

*** In the second half, despite still facing pressure, Coan was more relaxed, he drove off his back foot and he was far more effective. In the second half Coan went 6-9 for 137 yards and a score. He threw a great post route to Davis on the 62-yard touchdown and he hit Braden Lenzy right in the hands for what should have been a 39-yard touchdown but the ball was dropped. That would have made his second half numbers even more impressive.

*** Lenzy had a quality game outside of that drop, but he has to make that catch. It takes away from everything else he did. He blew past the corner, he was ready to haul in a game-ending touchdown and he just dropped it. I know it was in the sun, but you have to make that play.

*** Kevin Austin had a rough game for Notre Dame in every way possible. He had drops, he got very little separation on most of his snaps and his inability to beat the press hurt the pass offense today. This is something we've discussed in past games but today the Purdue corners - despite missing their best player at the position - were able to take Austin completely out of his game.

*** Veteran Avery Davis overcame his teammate's struggles and had the biggest game of his career. Davis made two excellent deep out/corner catches before he torched the Purdue secondary with a beautiful corner-post route for the 62-yard touchdown. It should look familiar to Notre Dame fans, it's the same route he ran last year to get free late in the fourth quarter against Clemson, but this time Davis got all the way to the end zone. He was excellent in this game, and he was at his best on third-down.

*** Purdue was locked in on tight end Michael Mayer all game and did a good job keeping him in check. Overall the blocking of the tight ends continues to be an issue.

*** I'll go back and break down the line play, but from first glance I have two main takeaways. One is that the line is still making way too many mistakes and the pass protection remains a huge problem. Right tackle Josh Lugg got bullied and pushed into the quarterback on multiple snaps and Tosh Baker kept giving up the inside.

*** The interior blockers had their fair share of issues as well, but Jarrett Patterson and Zeke Correll had strong point-of-attack blocks to give Coan a clean pocket to step into in the third quarter, and Coan rewarded the line with a 62-yard bomb to Davis. 

*** My second takeaway is that despite far too many mistakes and struggles for much of the day, the line did play harder. They battled, they leaned on Purdue and wore the Boilers down late. That's a step in the right direction.

*** Notre Dame played freshman offensive tackle Joe Alt as a tight end today. He was wearing #45.

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