Notre Dame Football Opponent Preview: Purdue Boilermakers Offense


The No.11 Fighting Irish look to prepare themselves for the annual Shamrock Series this Saturday against the 1-1 Purdue Boilermakers. After thrashing Michigan 31-0, many have taken notice on how good Notre Dame could potentially be this season.

This week’s game shouldn’t derail the Irish from their championship ambitions, but there’s no harm in over-preparing for a team that has won a total of just two games this season and last season combined.

The Boilermakers started their season off on the right foot defeating Western Michigan 43-34, but that quickly turned around when they were decimated by Central Michigan 38-17 last Saturday.

Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell, who is in his second season at the helm, made clear last year that his goal was to get younger players as much experience as possible. This season, it looks like he’s following that same game plan testing both quarterbacks Austin Appleby and Danny Etling to see which of the two can claim the starting job. Etling started at quarterback last season in week five, but he wasn’t able to lead the Boilermakers to a single win. The uncertainty at quarterback should serve as an advantage for Notre Dame’s defense.

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Etling has more experience than Appleby, so he’ll likely take the starting position on Saturday. Last year, Etling threw for for 1,690 yards for 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He wasn’t much of a game-changing quarterback throwing for just six yards per pass attempt, and he hasn’t gotten better this season through two games throwing for just over four yards per pass. The rest of his statistics for this season are mediocre at best throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go along with two scores on the ground. If he can be rattled early, Notre Dame should have no problem containing Purdue’s passing attack.

Purdue also has a relatively young offensive line starting just one upperclassman at center. The other four linemen are redshirt sophomores who have little to no experience. Last Saturday, the Boilermakers allowed three sacks in their loss. Two games into the season, there really isn’t anything to say about their offensive line except that they’re inexperienced, which gives Notre Dame another edge defensively.

The Boilermakers’  skill positions don’t show much of a threat either. Through their first two games, none of their receivers have more than a hundred yards receiving, and only one of them has double digit receptions. To continue to emphasize the youth of this team’s offense, the three leading receivers of the team are redshirt senior tight ends Gabe Holmes, Justin Sinz and junior wideout Danny Anthrop.

The majority of this team’s seniority comes from senior running back and return man Raheem Mostert. Last season, Mostert was a change-of-pace player carrying the ball as well as lining up as a receiver to catch passes. This year, coach Hazell wants Mostert to carry his offense. So far this season, Mostert has carried the ball 41 times for 199 yards and a touchdown, which isn’t too bad for his first two games as a featured back. I don’t think he’ll make too much of a splash against Notre Dame’s fast, aggressive defense knowing that he’ll be Purdue’s workhorse offensively, but we can’t ignore the fact that this Boilermaker track star could come up with some big plays with his pure speed.

In what seems like more of a tune-up game for Notre Dame, this year’s Shamrock Series should continue to impress fans with how dominating of a team the Irish can be. However, if Notre Dame doesn’t show up ready to play or overlooks Purdue as an automatic win, the Domers will be flirting with a possible upset scenario.