After back-to-back nail-biting victories against Florida State and Toledo to open up the season, Notre Dame gets set to face a tough and experienced Purdue football team today inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Here’s what the Irish players are most focused on leading up to the in-state matchup with the Boilermakers.
After spending the first four seasons of his career at Wisconsin, Irish quarterback Jack Coan has plenty of experience playing against Purdue, and Coan had high praise for the Boilermakers on Tuesday.
“They’ve always been a super talented team," Coan said. "I know whenever we played them at Wisconsin they always played us super tough and we had some very close games, so I’ll be expecting the same thing. I played a bunch of those guys two years ago and I think I recognize a bunch of the same guys so they’re obviously very experienced and it’s going to be a tough challenge for us.”
Notre Dame captain and graduate student defensive tackle Kurt Hinish is also expecting a battle this afternoon.
“They have a great quarterback, they have a good offensive line, we’re going to see a really good football team on Saturday,” Hinish stated. “I’m excited to play them. They run a lot of trick plays and we’ll be ready for it, we’ll be ready for anything they throw at us.”
Fellow captain and senior center Jarrett Patterson likewise is prepared for whatever may come and aware of the game’s magnitude.
“Overall, I think they’re a really good defense," Patterson noted. "They play really hard, linebackers are downhill, they’ll blitz with different kinds of pressures, so we’re gonna be ready for them to throw everything at us.
“Obviously a rivalry game as well, we understand that and I’m sure they understand that as well so it’s going to be a really physical football game,” continued the Irish captain. “It’s going to be a challenge this Saturday, but it’s going to be really fun and probably a great environment as well.”
One of Purdue’s best players overall is defensive end George Karlaftis, a two-time second team All-Big Ten selection who racked up 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks himself in 2019 as a true freshman.
Though Patterson was quick to acknowledge Karlaftis’ skill in both the pass and run games, the senior is confident in his unit’s ability to stifle Karlaftis and the Boilermaker defense.
“He’s obviously a really good football player, but we also like what we have up front and the tackles are going to be ready to play a really good ball player this week,” Patterson affirmed. “They’re going to have to get extra sets after practice, extra work. I trust our tackles and the coaches trust them so it’s going to be a good matchup.”
Purdue also has great playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, headlined by a strong passing attack led by junior quarterback Jack Plummer and junior wide receiver David Bell.
Irish junior rover Jack Kiser believes Purdue’s high-powered offense will pose a challenge to the Notre Dame linebacker core, though not one they’re unprepared for.
“It’s just going to require us to do another duty,” Kiser said. “We can’t be set on stopping the run, we have to stop the run but also have to get back in the pass game. It’s going to be a really all-out effort for the linebackers both in the run and pass game, and we’re going to have to have high motors high effort all game long.”
Kiser also reiterated Hinish’s point about being ready for everything Purdue might throw at the Irish.
“They’re very explosive, they’re great schemers,” Kiser explained. “They have a lot of eye candy so we’re going to have to be very disciplined pre-snap and know our assignments. And then post-snap, they have a lot of playmakers that are very talented so we have to come and bring the intensity and tenacity and get after it.
Arguably no one on the Notre Dame sideline will be more pumped up Saturday than Kiser, an Indiana native with close ties to the Boilermakers. Kiser’s dad, brother and girlfriend have all attended Purdue, along with a host of aunts, uncles, cousins and high school friends. Unsurprisingly, Kiser mentioned that he received many phone calls about tickets for this Saturday’s game.
In spite of the family history, Kiser is looking forward to getting out on the field and making plays for Notre Dame.
“It’s just going to be very surreal and I’m excited to get out there and play and hopefully produce and perform and have success.”
It’s a big matchup for a Notre Dame team still searching for an identity and an experienced Purdue team trying to take down the Irish for the first time since 2007. As the Irish players made clear on Tuesday, they’re ready and eager to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
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