Using a punishing ground game Notre Dame opened its 2012 season with a lopsided win over a undermanned Navy team, 50-10, last week in Dublin, Ireland. The win was impressive in that it gave the Irish the type of opening season win they needed, after last year's upset loss to South Florida.
There was nothing fancy about the win. The Irish just ran the ball right at Navy using their big and experienced line to overpower the much small Midshipmen. Add to it the fact that the Irish front defensive seven held Navy's option attack in check most of the day, limiting the Middies to just 149 rushing yards. Last year, Navy was among the top teams in the country in yards rushing.
Of course, Irish fans have to put the win in total perspective. Navy only had one defensive starter bigger than 255 pounds, and it was a team that returned just one defensive starter.
But the win should be a momentum setter for the Irish as they open at home today with Purdue. With the one-sided win the Irish should have a easlier time focusing on the Boilermakers today rather than last year, when ND entered their second game with a 0-1 upset loss at home.
ND didn't appear to miss suspended running back starter Cierre Wood. Theo Ruddick had 107 yards on 19 carries and two TDs while his runningmate, George Atkinson III, had 99 on nine and also two scores.
Quarterback Everett Golson never had to be pressured into throwing the football since the Irish were running it so well. That is a good thing. Golson just did the job he had to do, made one bad throw into coverage, but otherwise did a good job which should have pleased head coach Brian Kelly. He was sacked once for eight yards but that was really not his fault (a offensive lineman missed an assignment), Kelly said.
With Golson basically just handing the ball off all day and staying in the pocket when he was passing it didn't give anything away to Purdue. Golson, as you know, is known to be able to roll and throw and has the speed to run the ball. More on the game later.
Today the Irish host in-state rival Purdue. The Boilers will be coming in fresh off a win over Eastern Kentucky, 48-6. The win, and the play of QB Robert Marve, highlighted the win. He started because head coach Danny Hope suspended five-year veteran Caleb TerBush for a game for violation of team rules. Apparently Marve's performance wasn't quite good enough. Hope reinstated TerBush on Monday and said he is the starter today. However, he also said Marve will also see action. Others to watch for Purdue are receivers/runners Gary Bush, Antavian Edison and Gabe Holmes.
ND leads the series, 55-26-2 and has won the last four in a row, including last year, 38-10. Purdue will be a test for the Irish secondary, which did not look very good against Navy last week.
The game will be televised nationally by NBC-TV with a 3:40 p.m. EDT kickoff.
IRISH NOTES:Kelly told the media after returning to South Bend last Sunday that Golson is still the starter. Last year's starter, Tommy Rees, was suspended for the game after his arrest this past spring at a off-campus party. Kelly said Rees will be considered second on the depth chart with Andrew Hendrix....Some more stats from last week. Golson was 12 of 18 passing while Hendrix was four of five. Receiving had Tyler Eifert with four catches for 22 yards, DaVaris Daniels, two for 49, and Theo Riddick two for 25. Defensively, CB Bennett Jackson and Dan Fox each had seven tackles, Manti Te'o six.....Stephen Tuitt's 77-yard return of a Navy fumble was the third longest in school history....Runningback Cam McDaniel surprised a lot of followers with his running in the second half when Kelly pulled the starters. He worked out last spring and most pre-Navy game practices at cornerback, but switched to runningback when ND got light in that position. He carried nine times for 60 yards and caught a pass for 20. With Wood returning to the lineup in another week, and USC transfer Amir Carlisle, started practicing this week, on a limited basis, McDaniel will probably be back at CB....A total of 21 Irish players made their first career appearance against Navy....Golson is another Irish QB to win his first start. Since 1985 Irish QBs have gone 15-6 in their first career starts....Atkinson scored his first TD going 56 yards. As he approached the endzone Atkinson slowed down and stopped just as he crossed the goal line. He placed the ball down right away, then ran to the sidelines. The action caught the eye of backs coach Tony Alford who greeted Atkinson as he left the field. What did Alford tell Atkinson. The runner said, "Not do it again. That was my last time."....The 293 yards rushing the Irish rolled up with done without a single rush by Golson....Not all was fine for ND. The secondary looked weak at times. Navy threw at veteran back Bennett Jackson with much success. In fact, the Navy passing game was working well against ND until the Irish coaching staff changed things and had the CBs getting more help from the safeties. After that the pass defense looked a lot better....ND moved up to number 22 in both the AP and Coaches' polls this wee....Althrough ND has beaten Purdue the last four, the Boilermakers have always given the Irish problems. Purdue likes to throw the ball and that will be a test for the Irish secondary that is basically young due to injuries to key players and the switching of players from other positions to shore up the CB position. ND should head into the game on a high from last week's win. My preseason pick was ND and I'll stay with it. I'm in South Bend today with a lot of other ND fans from the Tamaqua-Panther Valley area.