Grades: Notre Dame Running Backs and Wide Receivers vs. Purdue

Grading the Notre Dame running backs and wide receivers from the win over Purdue
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Grades for the Notre Dame skill players from the 27-13 victory over Purdue.

RUNNING BACK

Notre Dame's running backs continue to be a bright spot for the Irish offense. Despite continued struggles from the offensive line the backs were able to make an impact in both the run and pass game. The duo of Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree ran with authority, they both made plays in the pass game and they were sound technically.

Overall Grade: B+

KYREN WILLIAMS

Grade: A
Rush Stats: 12 att., 91 yards, 7.6 YPC, 1 TD
Receiving Stats: 2 catches, 47 yards, 23.5 YPC, 1 TD
Totals: 14 touches, 138 yards, 9.9 YPC, 2 TD

Williams spent way too much time dancing in the first two games, which is understandable considering how bad the play of the line was and how little room there was for him to work. Against Purdue we saw Williams show more patience in the run game and he was more willing to get behind the line. The one time the line got a good push we saw Williams get through the first level and then use his strength and elusiveness to get free for a back-breaking 51-yard touchdown run.

Williams ran an excellent quick in cut in the second quarter on a 4th-and-3, which allowed him to get free. Quarterback Jack Coan hit Williams, who then split the defense and took off for the end zone. It gave Notre Dame the lead, a lead it would never give up. Purdue tried to make it a game in the fourth quarter but Williams saw to it that the Boilermakers wouldn't be able to pull off the upset.

His pass pro wasn't as stout as usual, but Williams didn't give up any pressures.

Williams showed leadership and character in this game as well. After such a brutal turnover in last week's game, Williams bounced back and made huge game-winning plays in the victory over Purdue.

CHRIS TYREE

Grade: B-
Rush Stats: 11 att., 29 yards, 2.6 YPC, 0 TD
Receiving Stats: 4 catches, 30 yards, 7.5 YPC, 0 TD
Totals: 15 touches, 59 yards, 3.9 YPC, 0 TD

Tyree's numbers weren't very good, which drags down his grade a bit, but he was efficient and made the most of the yards that were available to him. He ran with authority in the run game and was once again Notre Dame's most decisive runner, which allowed Tyree to maximize the available yards.

Tyree converted a third-down with a catch on the sideline and his 19-yard gain on a swing pass in the fourth quarter set up a Notre Dame field goal. This was arguably Tyree's best game as a pass blocker. He made quick decisions, stepped up with authority and was sound with his assignments.

I'd like to see Tyree use just a bit more leg drive at times on the second level, but that's a nitpick in situations where he had little room to run. What stood out was his ability to put his foot in the ground and hammer forward.

WIDE RECEIVER

The wide range of grades at wide receiver was about as great as I've seen since I started grading Notre Dame players. One of the stars of the game was a wideout, but other players at the position had brutally bad games. The run blocking as a unit wasn't as strong in this matchup as well.

Making the grade even more troubling is the fact that Purdue was without its best cornerback, who missed the game with an injury. As a unit the wide receivers continued to struggle with physical play at the line and down the field, which kept the receivers from getting into routes as quickly as they need to do, which threw off the timing of the pass concepts.

Notre Dame's receivers also had drop problems in the game. I had the unit down for five drops.

Overall Grade: C-

AVERY DAVIS

Grade: A
Stats: 5 catches, 120 yards, 24.0 YPC, 1 TD

Davis had the best performance of his career, setting career highs with catches and receiving yards. Davis executed a quality corner-post route to get free for a 62-yard touchdown that put the Irish up two scores. That wasn't his only big play of the game, as Davis also converted a 2nd-and-16 with a 17-yard grab on a corner route, he moved the chains on a 3rd-and-5 and also had a strong contested grab for 20 yards to set up Notre Dame's first touchdown of the game.

With the offense struggling to consistently move the football the unit needed big plays and Davis made one of the biggest. 

KEVIN AUSTIN

Grade: F
Stats: 0 catches, 3 drops

Austin was a bright spot for the Irish in the first two wins but he struggled mightily against Purdue. I have to remind myself that Austin, a senior, has played so little football in his career and games like this shouldn't be as surprising as it was. 

Austin had a rough outing, almost from the outset. Purdue was aggressive with its coverage against the Irish wideout, and far too often he either refused to use any kind of quality press release move, or he just didn't do it at all. That allowed Purdue to throw off the timing of his routes, kept him from getting open as frequently as he did in the first two games and he struggled to haul in throws when they did come his way.

It was clear that Purdue's aggressive style of play impacted Austin, who appeared frustrated for much of the game. I believe that factored into two of his three drops.

BRADEN LENZY

Grade: C-
Stats: 3 catches, 21 yards, 7.0 YPC, 0 TD

Lenzy had a chance to break the game completely open but his sun-aided drop in the fourth quarter kept the Irish off the scoreboard on that series. Lenzy was solid for much of the game, hauling in three passes for 21 yards. Two of his catches were on throws that were off target and he made good grabs.

Lenzy also struggled at times with press release moves, but when he was able to win off the line he blew past the Purdue wideouts. When he finally got a chance to make a play down the field he couldn't haul it in. Lenzy's drop, which erased what should have been a touchdown, is what dragged his grade down.

JOE WLKINS JR.

Grade: D+
Stats: 0 catches

Wilkins actually did a solid job getting off the line, especially compared to his teammates. I would have liked to see him lay out a bit more on the in cut that went off his fingertips late in the first half. Wilkins was inconsistent in the run game against the Boilermakers.

I continue to remain concerned about the lack of a deeper rotation, as freshmen Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles played just one snap each, but that should be expected by now.

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