September 8, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. EST
Last Meeting: Notre Dame 38-Purdue 10
Will Lucas, LB, Junior-Lucas was the second returning tackler from last year. He recorded 82 total tackles with 46 solo stops. 10 of his tackles were for a loss. Lucas is undersized for a Linebacker. He checks in at 5’11” 230. This may be an issue for Lucas against Notre Dame’s Offense Line. When Notre Dame tries to run up the middle, Lucas will be one of the first defenders to meet that onslaught. Can he anchor against the big Offensive Linemen of Notre Dame? He will need to. Purdue’s leading returning tackler Dwayne Beckford was suspended prior to the Boilermaker’s opener. This left Lucas as the top remaining tackler from 2011.
Kawann Short, DT, Senior-Short is probably the best Defensive player that the Boilermakers have. At 6’3” 315, Short is a physically imposing force on the inside of the Defensive Line. In 2011, he was named Defensive MVP by the team as well as First-Team All Big Ten. He recorded 54 total tackles. Short is definitely a future NFL talent. How will Braxton Cave, another NFL talent, handle him on Saturday? This could be a key matchup in the running game and a difference in the game overall.
Ricardo Allen, DB, Junior-Despite being dominated by future first round NFL Wide Receiver Michael Floyd in last year’s game, Allen actually had a solid 2011 season. He collected Second-Team All Big Ten Honors. He had 81 tackles and 3 interceptions. Allen returned one interception for a touchdown against Minnesota. This year, Allen faces off against Notre Dame’s inexperienced by talented Wide Receivers. Allen may be able to dominate more against this group as opposed to a physically imposing Michael Floyd.
Josh Johnson, DB, Senior-In 2011, Johnson recorded 64 total tackles. Johnson also recorded 2 interceptions. He was named an Academic All-American. Johnson is the other Cornerback starting aside of Allen. He has appeared 36 games in his career. Johnson started 13 games total. He definitely is experienced enough to make plays against Notre Dame’s Wide Receivers.
Purdue ranks 9th overall in Scoring Defense after their 48-6 victory over Eastern Kentucky. They also rank 9th overall in Total Defense. It should be noted that Eastern Kentucky plays in the Championship Subdivision. The past three seasons, the Colonels have gone 7-5, 6-5, 5-6. Eastern Kentucky is not even a great Championship Subdivision team. It should also be noted that the Boilermakers steamrolled Southeast Missouri State 59-0 before losing to Notre Dame 38-10.
Like the Offense, Purdue has a veteran group. Short and the Defensive Line may be able to clog the Running Lanes against the Fighting Irish. However, the Offensive Line that Notre Dame has is extremely talented. The battle between Short and Cave will be one that NFL Scouts look at come April 2013. If Notre Dame gets into the second level, Purdue may not be able to stop Notre Dame from breaking a big run. As far as the secondary goes, Purdue may be solid covering the outside receiver. But, in play action plays or against the slot receivers, Notre Dame may be able to get athletes in space.