Take Five: Offensive Line Improves, Kyle Hamilton Shines

My five takeaways from the Notre Dame victory over Purdue
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My five takeaways from the Notre Dame victory over Purdue

1. Are you serious, Kyle Hamilton? Hamilton has become a human highlight reel.

The senior Notre Dame safety, who was posing with recruits after Notre Dame’s 27-13 victory over Purdue on Saturday, had another NFL moment when he stopped Milton Wright after a Jack Plummer pass on 4th-and-1 in the first quarter. Wright appeared to have a large, swath of open green field in front of him. Hamilton closed on him like a speeding freight train and threw him down for no gain. He also had an interception and 10 tackles. Hamilton has no peers when it comes to finishing a play. His interception where he ran across the field to grab a pass away from a Florida State receiver was another you-had-to-see-it play.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly enjoys the show he puts on, like everyone else.

“There's only one guy that can make the plays that he did today. You guys watch it. That fourth-down play,” he said. “How good was that? That was pretty good, right? I thought it was too. I was standing right there. I'd pay to watch him play. He just missed another one (interception) late. He's a really good player if you guys didn't know that. I know you do. I say that. He does some things that surprise me at times. His awareness, his tackling. He had a really good week too. He's another guy that, as a captain, he has stepped up his preparation and it showed today.”

2. It was a shaky start for the offensive line when Jack Coan had no time to throw on the first play. Coan was sacked for nine yards by Jaylan Alexander. The first quarter was fairly awful for the line. Coan was sacked twice, Notre Dame rushed for 10 yards on six carries and Coan was 2 for 6 for 26 yards. The line redeemed itself, though, enough to believe that it has a chance to be decent. Notre Dame rushed for 120 yards, and 83 of those yards came in the second half. There was a legitimate, consistent push-up front at times in the second half.

That was a first. Kelly is optimistic.

“Our offensive line continues to grow and develop each and every week,” he said. “You've got a third tackle (Tosh Baker) with his first start. You've got a left guard (Zeke Correll) that was trained as a center, that is learning every day. You know you're good at center (Jarrett Patterson). I think the right guard, Cain Madden is doing a good job. I think (Josh) Lugg is playing his best football. So, I'd say, all in all, they're playing pretty good.”

3. Now for an off-the-field moment. Notre Dame got hammered for not allowing Purdue to bring the world’s largest drum inside the stadium for the marching band’s halftime show.

This is where the Internet is just broken.

According to multiple reports, the drum and carriage, which it sits on, weigh about 500 pounds. A tweet by Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star said it was the first time since 1979 the largest drum hadn’t made a trip with the band.

Notre Dame was portrayed as tone-deaf and petty for its refusal to let the drum come through the main tunnel. Opposing teams and their bands have entered through the visitor’s tunnel since it was built in 2017.

It’s a bogus, incomplete storyline to suggest Notre Dame was being mean-spirited.

Stadium protocols are rigid everywhere because of Covid-19 policies. ND’s band comes out of its home gate and the visitor’s band comes out of the visitor’s gate. Purdue didn’t inquire about getting the drum onto the field until earlier in the week. That was late enough for Notre Dame to deny their request for special drum access. Is it possible it could’ve been worked out? Probably, but a last-minute request by the Boilermakers made it easy to say, “No.” I can assure you that no Notre Dame fan spent one second thinking about the Purdue drum and its streak before this came up.

4. This was a breakout game for an Irish defense that had been knocking at the door of greatness. Even Purdue’s lone touchdown was hard-earned. Notre Dame was penalized for a questionable pass interference.

See the big stats for the Irish below.

Purdue averaged 2.3 yards per rush.

Notre Dame forced two turnovers.

The longest play from scrimmage was a 32-yard pass from Jack Plummer to David Bell. Those stats don’t line. It will always be hard to beat a defense that ends up with those numbers.

5. Jack Coan wants it to be a normal game for him.

But it won’t be.

The Irish play Wisconsin at Noon EST next Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Coan transferred from Wisconsin. He led them to the Rose Bowl after the 2019 season. Coan didn’t play last year after getting injured. He said that “it’s a little crazy how it’s come to this moment. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

It’ll definitely be more fun for Coan if the Irish win. Wisconsin, which is ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press, will be ready. The Badgers (1-1) didn’t play this week.

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