Sep 17, 2013, 10:16 AM EDT
Former Notre Dame football linebacker Kory Minor (@KMine4) will be recapping the defensive play of each game in “Getting Defensive With Kory Minor.” Minor, a four-year member of the football squad, went on to the NFL for a few years and is currently traveling the country speaking at colleges, universities and corporations on leadership and the concept of winning. Minor’s first book, “Make a Touchdown of Your Life” was just released a week ago. You can order the book and keep up with Minor’s speaking at KoryMinor.com.
Notre Dame got off to a slow start on Saturday night. I think part of the reason was the play of our defense in the first half. Purdue took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to score the games first points.
Poor tackling and missed assignments magnified the problem, but the common theme on that drive, and for most of the first half in my opinion, seemed to be a lack of focus and excitement.
Certainly Zeke Motta and Manti Te’o were great players for Notre Dame last season and have been tough to replace, but I was disappointed that our veteran group on defense allowed Purdue’s offense to move freely up and down the field, racking up yardage and first downs in the first half.
In each of the last two games against Michigan and Purdue, we did not get a three-and-out on the opening drive. To be considered an elite defense, that’s important aspect of the game that helps a team develop a defensive identity. Heading into the game, Purdue was just shy of 50 percent on third down conversions, but in the first half, and particularly on the opening drive, they were 100 percent in that department. That’s never good for establishing any confidence on defense.
In life, you can use the law of averages in just about anything; football is no different. If our defense can consistently get opponents off the field on third down, then we give our offense more possessions to put points on the board. Anytime you give our explosive offense more touches we are prone to score more points.
Having a halftime is wonderful in the sport of football, especially if your team is not playing well. It also allows your team to fine-tune the game plan before the second half. Our defense in the second half, from an execution standpoint, was more efficient and effective.
How I look at it, we need a second-half focus in the first half. I still would like to see our defensive stars shine through a bit more. Whether it is (Louis) Nix or (Stephon) Tuitt, they each have tons of talent and ability to be more dominant on each play. With that being said, Nix eats up two blockers on most plays so I truly expect our linebackers to read their keys and flow downhill. Making tackles in an opponents’ backfield with a nose tackle like Nix should be our mainstay.
It has been a long time coming, but it was so great to see (Bennett) Jackson get a pick six. If you recall, that was one of my keys for the Irish success, creating game changing plays that either score points or give the offense great field position. People don’t realize this, but if your defense can find a way to put up seven or 14 points in a contest consistently, that does wonders for any offense and creates nightmares and headaches for opposing teams.
All in all, the Irish got a win on Saturday night even though it was not pretty. Holding the Boilermakers to just 1.8 yards per play, mainly in the second half, is pretty special. To win a game on the road a team must pack its kicking game and its defense. Notre Dame did just that. Maybe it was too close for comfort for Irish fans, but it sure does feels good to be on the winning side.
Until next time……Go Irish!!!!
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