The charm and allure of College Football was on full display Saturday in South Bend, Indiana. The Irish opened their 2012 home campaign with a familiar rival. The Purdue Boilermakers came into this meeting, having won their season opener, ready for battle. Armed with a sizeable defensive front and future All-American defensive back Josh Johnson this was not to be a replay of last week. Purdue could not match the overall talent of Notre Dame, especially at the skill positions. However, Coach Bob Day had the Boilermakers prepared mentally and physically to beat the Irish.
Purdue's game plan was rigid and simple. Stop the Irish from running the ball, which they did so effectively last week against Navy. That, believe it or not was the simple part. The rigidness came with the Boilermaker's constant pursuit, pressure and sacks on QB Everret Golson. Outmuscling a formidable Irish front line, the Boilermakers made the first year quarterback nervous and immobile, forcing Golson to react rather than attack. Purdue exposed his inability or lack of confidence to make a split decision. Known for his mobility, Golson impressed many with a few highlight reel throws on the run. However, he failed to contribute to the running game. Golson audibled a third and short play early in the second at the line, leading to a false start penalty for which Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly gave his young quarterback an earful. That did not work out the way Kelly anticipated as the freshman looked notably lost for the rest of the game. He burned timeouts at will, including all three second half timeouts with over 10 minutes to play. Every snap, Golson seemed to look to the sidelines with despair. Appearing lost and fearful, the Irish offense became glaringly chaotic and ineffective.
Purdue seized this opportunity and capitalized. They continued their pursuit and attack on the young Irish quarterback, forcing a late fourth quarter fumble. Before Golson fumbled on the Notre Dame 15 yard line, it was only a seven point game. Purdue quickly scored to tie the game with just 2:12 remaining.
Insert here, the aforementioned charm of the game. For if the Irish were to lose this game, despite being just the second of the year, the season's hope may have been lost as well. Knowing this, and perhaps rectifying previous decisions, Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly made a bold and gutsy call. With just 2:12 remaining coach Kelly ran out last year’s quarterback and regular hero/goat Tommy Rees. Welcomed by a chorus of jeers from the 80,000+Irish faithful, his first two pass attempts fell incomplete. However, he completed three of his next four and drove his team 55 yards for the game winning field goal. Rees was everything Golson wasn't: calm, precise and confident. Certainly not known for his mobility, Rees eluded the impeding pass rush, thus keeping the season's hopes and dreams alive… at least for another week.
Next up for the Irish (#20): Michigan State Spartans (#10)
@ East Lansing Michigan 9/15/12
Irish Notes :
- Coach Kelly names Golston next week's starter.
- Running Back Cierre Wood will return from suspension next week.
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