Yep, that one hurt -- any loss to Notre Dame does. However, there were some things to be optimistic about coming away from this game.
Let's start with what happened in front of us. Notre Dame's defense exposed Purdue's thin running back corps and made tackles (which Purdue didn't for large chunks of time). They pressured Marve by flooding through a somewhat porous O-line for much of the day. It also didn't hurt that Notre Dame was called for only two penalties... the entire day.
As for what to be optimistic about, well, I think we saw Marve settle in throughout the game. This is a guy who hadn't seen live action in nearly two years (Nov 2008). He started a little rough, but led a couple of impressive drives in the third and fourth quarters. The ND pressure caused him to rush a couple of passes, leading to INTs, but I know that I came away from this happy with what he clearly is capable of. Seeing him let fly with those long downfield attempts -- even though neither was caught -- was fun to watch. Seeing the ball aired out -- accurately -- more than 50 yards is something that Joey Elliot just, well, wasn't quite able to do. Guys like Justin Siller are going to catch those as we move forward.
Marve's touchdown was a play I loved. As NBC's Mayock pointed out, the Domers were in man-to-man and there was nobody behind the line. Marve saw this and audibled -- though I think his audible may have just been nonsense to get the defense thinking. And then he took off after the fake handoff and, well, we all saw his dive into the end zone. Sure, not the smartest thing and I'm usually one to come down on guys who do dumb things resulting in dumb penalties, BUT.... well, it wasn't that dumb.
Excessive celebration penalties came about to curb taunting. I think it's fair to say that wasn't exactly taunting. That was a kid having fun. However, I don't think you'll see him do it again.
I was also pleased with his 74% completion percentage (31 of 42) and I think that bodes well for the kind of offense run at Purdue.
On the defensive side of the ball, well, the growing pains are there. In what feels like a recurring theme (for years), the Purdue defense did not tackle particularly well. This is not good. Too many times, they had held ND to a third down and then allowed the first down to happen. That's where the games are won and lost. Giving new life and improved field position is crushing, especially in what turned out to be a fairly low-scoring game. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Ryan Kerrigan, who is simply the beast we all expected him to be. Early on, Mayock was pointing out that Notre Dame needed to start getting some help over there to deal with Kerrigan. Interestingly, it seemed like every time a replay was shown of Kerrigan manhandling the UND line, it prominently featured someone holding him brutally. Guess we have to get used to that.
And now, a special note to the fans.... I know many of you are loyalists. You love these guys and you already can't wait for next Saturday to show the love. However, I saw a disconcerting number of remarks on Twitter like "Is it basketball season yet?" and other similar remarks. Let me make this clear: That's something a Notre Dame or IU fan would say. Someone who doesn't support their sports teams. That's not something we do at Purdue. Again, I know most of you aren't like that... and maybe some of the people making those remarks were doing it in jest.
I still don't like it.
Remember the support the students gave the basketball team when they returned to campus after big wins? Remember how happy it looked like it made the players? Well, just imagine the football team starts seeing remarks about how we're all looking forward to basketball -- one game in. Well, how would YOU feel? Yeah, let's not discuss this again.
More later on today's game. For now, have a drink, relax and try to enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. This, my friends, is just the beginning.