For much of the season the ND rushing game has been nonexistent, if not downright awful. The Irish entered the game averaging 78 yards rushing. This Saturday, however, they eclipsed that mark in the 3rd quarter alone, gaining 90 yards from the contributions of Armando Allen, James Aldridge, and Robert Hughes. In all, Allen finished with 134, Aldridge with 34, and Hughes with 26.
Aside from the resurgent running game, Jimmy Clausen and the Irish receivers connected for a great day statistically. Statistically speaking, Clausen had his best day in an Irish uniform. He completed 20 of 35 passing attempts for 275 yards and 3 TDs and 0 INTs. True freshman Michael Floyd, who has been on fire all year, snagged 6 six catches for 100 yards. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, another true freshman, hauled in his first career TD on a 5 yard pass from Clausen in the third quarter. Senior David Grimes also scored a TD on a 30 yard pass from Clausen in the third quarter. Golden Tate made a few spectacular catches en route a 64 yard, 1 TD performance. Duval Kamara would have had a TD, but the officials ruled him out of bounds.
On the defensive side of the ball, true freshman CB Robert Blanton provided a much needed spark when the Irish were down early to the Boilermakers. Blanton intercepted a pass from Curtis Painted and took it 47 yards to the house. The rest of the Irish D played for the better part of the game, although they need to work on wrapping up players in the open field.
The kick game continues to create headaches as Brandon Walker missed a FG in the first quarter. Moreover, the Irish failed to notch a touchback or even get the ball close to the goal line on kickoffs. At least the kickoff coverage unit managed to hold Purdue's return men to their lowest output of the season.
All in all this game proved that the Irish are not about to give up on the running game just yet. If ND can repeat its success from this past weekend in future endeavors they have the chance to be a legitimately decent football team by the end of the year. Was Purdue's defense really that bad or did the Irish o-line overachieve? Only time will tell.
Next up: Stanford.