Purdue's starting quarterback Brandon Kirsch came into the 2005 season with labels like "cocky", "risk-taker", and "fiery". However, after a 2-1 start and a scant 4 touchdown passes, new adjectives like "uneven" and "inconsistent" have been popping up. Even Coach Tiller has mentioned the need for Kirsch to play better.
Tiller was asked Tuesday to evaluate Kirsch's play after three games.
"Good, average and not so good," he said. "Not necessarily in that order. But he's played OK. He's executed parts of the offense very well, and he's not executed parts of it."
One area the coach would like to see Kirsch improve is running the option plays.
"He's been premature with some of his pitches," Tiller said.
The first time that ND faced an option play this year was against Michigan State. Now Kirsch isn't Drew Stanton, and as long as he keeps pitching the ball more often than not, it might not be terribly effective, but it is something to worry about. One key to stopping the option will be to keep the pitchmen like Kory Sheets from breaking off long runs -- like his 88-yarder against Minnesota. Both Abiamiri and Frome will have to play disciplined football and make sure they don't get caught trying to defend both the QB and pitch-man on the option. From the limited Boilermaker football I've seen, it seems they mainly run the option from the shotgun a la the current Urban Meyer/spread option craze.
One thing that does worry me is if Purdue decides to try the option-play-action pass (my favorite play from NCAA 2004). Given the noted tendencies of our safeties to fly up for run support, I really hope we don't see Kirsch set up for a long pass while Zibby and Nedu are charging the line of scrimmage.
In other Boilermaker personnel news, the Purdue defense will be minus one starting linebacker as strong-side linebacker Bobby Iwuchukwu will miss the game following knee surgery. His replacement is Cliff Avril who started four games last season.
Then again, Purdue might bench all of its starting linebackers. Tiller's pissed, and has threatened to give the starting nod to the current backups.
"It's safe to say they've played better football in the past, and I expect them to play better football in the future," Tiller said.
Other bits and pieces to make you look knowledgeable at your local gamewatch:
• 6'9" wide receiver Kyle Ingraham only has 133 yards receiving over the first three games, but much of that is due to a sore ankle that might still be bothering him on Saturday.
• Purdue's #2 tight end, Dustin Keller, missed the Minnesota game with a sprained ankle and might end up missing the Notre Dame game as well. Keller is currently Purdue's leading touchdown receiver with two of Purdue's four passing touchdowns.
• Building on his 88 yard touchdown run, sophomore Kory Sheets has been officially moved up to backup running back to Jerod Void (5 rushing TDs so far) in the place of 5th year senior Brandon Jones.