Notre Dame's defensive performance this season has been ... well ... strange. For much of the first two games the defense has been incredibly disruptive and dominant for long stretches. At other times it has been mistake prone and has struggled to put teams away.
Against Purdue we need to see the Irish defense start to be more consistently dominant and start to clean up those mistakes. Here's what I'm looking for early in the game to know if the Irish have made the proper adjustments and are more locked in.
1. Play clean football - This one is simple, stop making the big mistakes. Notre Dame has given up four plays of 60+ yards and on every single one an assignment mistake or a technique mistake - sometimes two or three per play - have been the primary factors in those big plays. That stuff needs to get cleaned up. When Notre Dame has played clean defensive football this season it has dominated its opponents. That needs to be the snap-after-snap story in this game.
2. Use Foskey to attack - When junior end Isaiah Foskey has been used to attack he's been very, very good, and that's true whether he's playing on the edge or lined up stacked and off the ball. I truly don't have an issue with Notre Dame using Foskey off the ball, and the idea of moving him around from that alignment intrigues me. The problem is then asking him to play like a linebacker.
What I want to see Notre Dame do today is move him around just like you have the first two games, but wherever you line up Foskey make sure at the snap he is flying hard downhill towards the football. Put him in attack mode every single time he's on the football field.
3. Be more disruptive in the secondary - The secondary has been a primary culprit behind many of the big plays this season, and as a whole the unit just hasn't been as aggressive as it needs to be. Perhaps not playing with great confidence is a better way to describe what we've seen in the secondary.
There's talent in the secondary but the unit doesn't always play like it trusts its own talent. I want to see this unit not only play more clean football but also be more aggressive attacking the football. That is a must in Marcus Freeman's defense in both the run game and pass game.
Simplifying the coverage structure a bit until this unit gets rolling is something the Irish staff can do to help the unit out, but at the end of the day the key is execution and confidence for this group.
4. Make someone not named David Bell beat you - Notre Dame simply cannot allow wide receiver David Bell to take this game over. If the Irish force the other Purdue skill players to beat them they just won't be able to do it. If Bell goes off it makes those around him even better, and he's good enough to take the game over. The Irish need a game plan to handle him and the secondary needs to be on top of its game when matched up against Bell.
Purdue is going to work to get him the ball early and often, so we'll find out right away if the Irish defense is prepared for him schematically and from a personnel standpoint.
Irish Breakdown Content
Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content, our premium message board and gets you a FREE subscription to Sports Illustrated! Click on the link below for more
Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!
Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Follow me on Parler: @BryanDriskell
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook