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College Sports: Irish look to stay on track agaisnt Purdue

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posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 10:24 PM
Nearly unstoppable at the start of games last season, Notre Dame hasn't been nearly as efficient this season.

The 12th-ranked Fighting Irish (3-1) have scored just once on their first possession, a field goal against Penn State. Against Michigan, they scored on their third possession -- thanks to a 51-yard interception return by Chinedum Ndukwe to the 4-yard line. In their other two games, the Irish didn't score until their sixth possession.

In 2005, the Irish scored seven times on their first possession behind the play-calling of coach Charlie Weis. In the games they didn't, they scored three times on their second possession.

Weis isn't sure why the Irish are starting so slow. But the man who takes pride in writing "openers" -- the first 15 or so first- and second-down plays of the game -- dismisses the notion that other teams have figured out his play-calling.

"I just haven't written the right plays, I guess," he said.

Weis said the slow start is his fault for not calling better plays and the players' for not executing better.

The Irish hope to turn that around Saturday against Purdue (4-0) -- a team that has the nation's fifth worst pass defense. Last season, the Irish had 621 yards of total offense against the Boilermakers.

"I think our offense really just needs to get into a rhythm, get into one early, everyone kind of be on the same page," quarterback Brady Quinn said.

The focus for the Irish this week, after a stirring come-from-behind win over Michigan State, is to play all out for 60 minutes.

"We're trying to keep that momentum from that game with all the turnovers that we were creating on defense and the offense making big plays," safety Tom Zbikowski said.

The Irish offense continues to struggle and has yet to hit the 400-yard mark.

"It really helps if Brady Quinn is off on some of his throws," said Purdue coach Joe Tiller. "When he is really in the zone, so to speak, it's difficult for anyone to defend. In East Lansing, there were several misfires, and I think that helps your team in a number of ways."

When Quinn is off, Tiller said it not only hurts the Irish but helps an opponent's confidence.

The Irish offense, too, is looking for a confidence boost. Quinn said last week's rain and wind against Michigan State might have helped the team.

"It's almost like if your foot's hurting and then you bang your elbow, so you stop worrying about your foot," Quinn said. "It's almost as if we were so worried about the weather, somewhere along the line we ended up finding more productivity out of our offense and things started rolling."

Quinn might get to test his theory against Purdue. The forecast calls for showers Saturday with a chance of thunderstorms.

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posted on Sep, 30 2006 @ 01:24 PM
They seem to be doing quite well today, up 21-7 3 minutes prior to the half...


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