- Roger Holzgrafe
SEPTEMBER 18, 2021 Let Us Pray: Notre Dame Fighting Irish v. Purdue Boilermakers
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
“Will the Irish ever win again in a manner without leaving their fans in need of a drink, even a Boilermaker?
Two weeks into the 2021 season and the Irish are 2-0! They could just as easily be 0-2!! There are flaws in the 2021 Irish that will take time to address.
Flaw #1 from this writer is an inexperienced offensive line. It will get better with experience, but will it ever reach the level of the offensive lines from the past two seasons? It says here the answer is “no”, at least for this season, but when Blake Fisher returns from his torn meniscus and Rocco Spindler is inserted after some strengthening, the results will improve.
Flaw #2 from this writer is the need to improve on some poor tackling. Too many plays haave been defended well but the tackle was not made.
At least with two wins it is possible to sing.
‘When Irish teams are scoring,
All the fans seem happy that way,
And when Irish teams start tackling,
Sure, they’ll steal your heart away.”
The Purdue Boilermakers visit Notre Dame Stadium for 2021 Game #3. Will this game start a new, consecutive “Sold Out Stadium” streak? If not, the “Non-Sell Out” streak will continue.
As you may have noted, our cover editor must not be a football fan. When instructed to create an appropriate Boilermaker cover, he produced a cover that only a libation lover would recognize, as evidenced by the glass of beer and shot of whiskey. Whether mixed or taken beer followed by a shot, this is more like what we expected:
Purdue has had a veritable stable of skilled, thoroughbred Quarterbacks. Many have become starting Quarterbacks in the NFL and many have followed their football careers into broadcasting. How about this list – Len Dawson – Bob Griese – Mike Phipps – Gary Danielson – Jim Everett – Drew Brees. And this Purdue game will be the first carried by NBC TV with Drew Brees “shooting the breeze” as the color commentator with Mike Tirico. Yes, there was a Brees peek on the “Peacock” streaming line last week against the “Holy Toledo how did the Irish almost get shot down by those Rockets?” We do know one Rocket “intercepted” a Coan pass bringing Irish nation back down to earth.
Actually, the Boilermakers perhaps should change their nickname to the “Rocket Men”. (Okay, that will not clear the gender police!?!**&&^^). But with Gus Grissom, one of the original 7 Mercury astronauts, Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, and Eugene Cernan, the last man, as of now, to step off the moon, counted among the Purdue alums, that name might not be inappropriate.
Among other Purdue alums are Chesley Sullenberger, who knows how to land planes on the East River, Jim Gaffigan, who knows how to present humourous bits on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, John Wooden, who knew how to win basketball games both at UCLA and earlier at South Bend Central High School, and Orville Redenbacher who knows a thing or two about popping corn.
But what about the Purdue football team. The Coach is Jeff Brohm. His record at Purdue is 19-25. In 2020 the 2-4 Boilermakers lost all 4 games by fewer than 10 points. His teams have not been unable to score, but the defense has let them down. That may be changing and here is the #1 reason why. Defensive end George Karlaftis. #5
Once lightly recruited by the Irish, this former top 150 recruit from West Lafayette, Indiana, chose to stay at home for school where he has been joined by youger brother, Yanni, a 6’ 3”, 225 lb. linebacker. George would look mighty fine in an Irish uniform.
Brohm’s signature win was in 2018 when the Boilermakers mauled the Ohio Stae Buckeyes 49-20. Two things stood out when watching that game. First was the performance of Freshman Rondale Moore. It is very good, indeed VERY, VERY GOOD, that he has taken his talents to the NFL. If he were playing, the problem would not be poor tacking; the problem would be will there be anyone even close to him to try to tackle him? Clearly, without the Moore, the merrier.
The second thing that stood out in that game was the then #2 ranked Ohio State football team just gave up in the 4th Quarter. “Cashing it in” like Ohio State did in that game has not been the problem for the Irish in games #1 and #2. They have been outscored in the 4th Quarter, but have hung around to win.
Brohm’s signature win came in his first season at Purdue when he led the Bolermakers to a 7-6 record, the first non-losing Purdue season following losing records in eight of the nine seasons prior to his hiring. With only three head coaches since 1956 having winning records at Purdue, the last being when Joe Tiller was at the tiller, a coach who knew a thing or two about the spread offense and throwing the pigskin, Brohm was rewarded with a contract extension. The following three seasons might indicate that move might have been premature (Charlie Weis, anyone?). But the drum beat was heard even from the biggest drum in the world.
Alas, that drum will not be making it into to Notre Dame Stadium as it will not fit through the tunnel from the Boilermaker locker room, the only tunnel the Irish decision-makers will apparently permit.
Tiller came to Purdue from the head coaching job at Wyoming. His first win as the head coach at Purdue came in his second game when the Boilermakers led by Quaterback Billy Dicken downed the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium. Ironically, the Boilermakers lost their first game of that season to . . ., HOLY TOLEDO, it was the Toledo Rockets!! The Boilermakers back up Quarterback in that win over the Irish was a fellow by the name of Drew Brees. Drew quarterbacked the Boilermakers the next three seasons but never beat the Irish. Going back just a few more years, Boilermaker Quaterback Mike Phipps became the first Quarterback ever to defeat the Irish three times.
Purdue has been the Irish opponent more times than any school other than Navy and USC. The teams played every season from 1946 until 2014 when the series ended with Notre Dame’s commitment to the ACC.
Irish fans should not forget the 1977 game against Purdue. Late in the 3rd Quarter of that game with the Irish trailing 24-14 and with its first Quarterback ineffective and its second Quarterback injured, Coach Dan Devine inserted the third string Quarterback who engineered a 17 point 4th Quarter comeback win for the Irish. That was a fellow by the name of Joe Montana. And the rest, of course, is history!!
If the Irish defeat the Boilermakers, it will be Brian Kelly’s 105th win as the Irish head coach, eclipsing the career record held by Knute Rockne. In another bit of irony, the first Kelly Irish win was the 2010 season opener against Purdue!!
If the Irish defense is challenging due to some complexity (PLEASE DO NOT BE TRUE. WE DO NOT NEED A VAN GORDER REPEAT!!), perhaps the need for the defenders to compute numbers quickly will be less strenuous this week as the top three Boilermaker receivers wear uniforms with single digits. The best is David Bell (#3) who at 6’ 2” and 205 lbs will pose a challenge for Cam Hart, Clarence Lewis and TaRiq Bracy. The others are T.J. Sheffield (#8) and Milton Wright (#0). We will likely see a lot of T.J. and that could be really good or it could be really bad. It will be really good and all will go well if we see a lot of him as the Purdue kick returner. It will be really bad and all will not go well if we see a lot of him as the Purdue punt returner and a wide receiver.
Speaking of kick returners, let’s have a shoe of hands for those who would like to see Chris Tyree not raise his hand but actually return a kick off for the Irish.
Resilient! Competitve! Sturdy! Unflappable! Fortunate! Lucky! Guarded! Non-panicable! Relieved!
These words (whether actual or contrived) can describe the Irish after the Florida State and Toledo games. The one word that is perhaps the most important to be able to use is “Undefeated”. But only by the barest of margins and in a manner that does not permit use of these words.
Impressive! Awesome! Dominant! Overpowering! Imposing! Powerful! Spectacular! Sensational!
Jordan Bothelo (#17) returns to the Irish for the Purdue game from some sort of exile. Let’s see him get some action and create some havoc for the defense (BUT WITHOUT GETTING ANY PERSONAL FOULS FOR BEING OVEREXUBURANT OVER HIS RETURN (OR OTHERWISE))!
Let’s look for better running success than in the first two games. (O-line success please!) And elimination of the big plays against the defense (Tackle! Tackle! Tackle!) And let’s look for (HOPE FOR) Irish to be in control of the game heading into the 4th Quarter with no opponent 4th Quarter highlights!!
If these guys all show up and perform, the Irish should be ok.
COAN AND BUCHNER
Hell, we could show them all!! So come on Irish, JUST WIN!! And it says here they will!!
The final score:
Notre Dame 34
Here are your Irish Trivia Questions for this week. All relate to the 1966 Purdue/Notre Dame Game in Notre Dame Stadium on September 24, 1966. The Purdue Quarerback was Bob Griese, the Irish Quaterback was Terry Hanratty.
On the opening series the Irish were inside the Purdue 10-yard line when an Irish running back fumbled and a Purdue defender, playing in his very first college football game, scooped up the fumble and ran 94 yards untouched for a touchdown. Can you name the Irish running back who fumbled the football and the Purdue defender who scored the touchdown?
The ensuing kickoff was run back for a 95-yard touchdown by the Irish. Can you name the Irish player who returned that kickoff for a touchdown?
Here is the answer to last week’s Notre Dame Trivia Question. Here is your Irish Trivia Question for last week this week. 1967 saw Notre Dame Stadium expanded from 59,075 capactiy to over 80,000 capacity. In what year did Notre Dame Stadium open?
And our hearts forever , , , , ,
1 Tiller was a native of Wyoming. Have you ever wondered what a person from Wyoming is called?. The answer is a “Wyomingite”. Which makes the observation (perhaps a bit ‘tongue-in-cheekish’) of deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, himself a Wyomingite, that it shoud be something different, certainly understandable.