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Boilermakers use bye week to prepare for “Super Bowl”

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two weeks separated from a 59-0 drubbing of Southeast Missouri State, Purdue has had plenty of time to let its momentum prepare for Notre Dame.

The Boilermakers (2-1) used the first week of their two-week window for some old-fashioned rest and relaxation.

“The bye week went very well for us,” Boilermakers coach Danny Hope said Tuesday. “I think we got done what we wanted to get done. We wanted to get some rest first. After the Southeast Missouri game, [the team] had Sunday afternoon off, all of Monday, all of Tuesday, all of Wednesday. That gave them a chance to heal up a little bit, freshen up a little bit.”

When the players returned to the practice field, Hope had a Notre Dame-specific game plan waiting for them.

“It gave us a chance to put together a game plan and take it on the practice field and test it some, over and over again,” he said. “It should help us out come Saturday.”

Purdue worked through all aspects of that game plan last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Immediately after Saturday’s practice, the Boilermakers watched the team they were preparing for.

“We practiced early [Saturday] and got out of practice in time to watch a lot of the Notre Dame [against Pittsburgh] game,” Hope said Sunday. “They practiced for Notre Dame, and then got to watch Notre Dame. I like how it all worked out, a good plan.”

Looking at the Irish, Hope said he knows his defense faces a stiff challenge.

“They have great players,” he said. “That’s the real challenge for our defense, we have to spread out and match up … They are exceptionally talented on offense.”

To open the season, Purdue squeaked by Middle Tennessee 27-24, and then lost to Rice a week later 24-22. Both teams run a spread offense similar to Notre Dame’s, and Hope’s defense had trouble coping with the inherent speed component.

“We’ve had some time to look at what we were doing and what we’ve done, and areas of our defense that we feel like we need to strengthen,” he said. “I feel like we are a lot more settled with our defensive package now, the fronts, the coverages, the pressures we’ll call.

“We’ve improved from the Rice game to the Southeast Missouri State game, and I think we showed a lot of improvement in practice from the Southeast Missouri game heading into the Notre Dame game.”

While the defense struggles to handle a spread offense, Hope enjoys relative constancy on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve split the time under the center, with Hope insisting TerBush is the number one quarterback. Even though he relies on a dual-quarterback system, Hope feels more comfortable with his signal caller(s) than he has recently.

“Last year and the beginning of this season we had five or six starting quarterbacks in about 14 games, so to have some continuity at the quarterback position is very good for our football team,” Hope said. “We don’t have to make a switch. We have two quarterbacks who are ready to go and to help our team.”

With the Boilermaker defense preparing for the Tommy Rees-led spread offense, and Terbush/Marve ready to lead an offensive attack, Irish coach Brian Kelly knows Notre Dame cannot afford to play as poorly as it did in its 15-12 victory over Pittsburgh.

“This is their Super Bowl,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “This is the biggest game on their schedule by far.”