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September 20, 2013
Darrell Hazell struck the match that lit the fire that singed the heels of the Irish coaching staff as Notre Dame's "offensive predictability" came under scrutiny following its three-point first-half performance against the Boilermakers last Saturday night.
"Our guys are battling," said Hazell to ESPN's Heather Cox as the Boilermakers took a 10-3 halftime lead into the locker room before the Irish rallied in the second half for a 31-24 victory.
"They're getting some penetration. They're doing a good job recognizing some formations and some tendencies out of formations. We've just got to keep battling."
Irish head coach Brian Kelly was asked about Purdue's recognition of formations and tendencies following Thursday's practice.
"I've been doing this a long time," Kelly said. "We've been self-scouting a long time. We lined up in the same formation 12 times, 11 times on the last drive. They knew exactly what we were doing, and we had the ball for 7:22."
In that drive, in which Cam McDaniel carried 11 out of 12 snaps of the football, the Irish were able to expend the last half of the fourth quarter.
It was not Notre Dame's last drive of the game that Hazell was referring to, but rather, the 32 offensive plays that netted just 123 yards (3.8 yards per snap) in the first half. Purdue defensive coordinator Greg Hudson could be seen gesticulating along the Boiler sideline in response to checks at the line of scrimmage by Irish quarterback Tommy Rees.
It apparently wasn't until the second half before the Irish went against some of those tendencies and Rees offered some "false checks" to help loosen up the Purdue defense, which surrendered 277 yards on 38 plays (7.2 yards per snap) and 21 offensive points.
Kelly would not concede that the Irish offense was predictable against Purdue. Rather, he pointed to a failure to execute the offensive plan.
"It's still about execution," Kelly said. "Those are good sound bites and all. We know what our tendencies are. We have that self-scouting information at our fingertips first thing Sunday when we get it from our graduate assistants.
"I don't know how to respond to that other than we're responsible on our end to make sure we have all that information and that we break tendencies if we have them. Generally speaking, bye weeks are (when) we do a more thorough evaluation of those things."
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