When the Boilermakers clash with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the 83rd time Saturday, they will look to slow one of the most potent offenses in college football by generating turnovers.
The Irish are dead last in the nation with a -2.50 turnover margin and rank 112 or worse in the four FBS turnover categories. They are also second to last in total turnovers with 15 and tied for 118th in fumbles lost with 8. It is because of these stats that the Irish aren’t 4-0.
Head coach Danny Hope knows the Irish are loaded with talent and that their record doesn’t mirror their talent level.
“They have turned the ball over a lot in their first four games and that’s why they aren’t undefeated,” Hope said. “They certainly have the talent and play like a top 10 football team.”
The Irish offense, led by quarterback Tommy Rees is averaging 423 yards-per-game. In their two losses to South Florida and Michigan, the Irish still averaged 475 yards-per-game.
Hope said the only way to slow the Irish offense is to match up, slow down the quarterback and make the routine tackles.
“We’ve had some time to look at what we were doing and at areas we needed to strengthen our defense and we are lot more settled in our defensive package with the fronts and packages we call,” Hope said. “We have settled in on what we need to do from the defensive standpoint.”
Senior linebacker Joe Holland knows the best way for the Boilers to help the offense out is by forcing turnovers.
“We talk about getting our offense back on the field and play as few snaps as possible and the best way to do that is to get turnovers,” Holland Said. “They have had a problem with turnovers this year and we know we have an opportunity to force some.”
The most dangerous part of Notre Dame’s offense is senior wide receiver Michael Floyd. Standing 6 foot 3 inches tall and 225 pounds, Floyd creates tough mismatches for opposing teams. It is likely the Boilers will try to slow Floyd with sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen who is six inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter.
Along with Floyd, who is first in Fighting Irish history in receptions, touchdown receptions, receiving yards and receiving yards-per-game, the Irish have talent at the tight end position with Tyler Eifert who had eight receptions last weekend against Pittsburgh.
Holland said Notre Dame was so dangerous because they have so many weapons and can score in so many different ways.
“There isn’t just one guy you need to shut down,” Holland said. “Pittsburgh made a big emphasis on not letting Michael Floyd get the ball and doing so, other guys like Eifert broke out.”
The game Saturday will be played under the lights at Ross-Ade Stadium at 8 p.m. as the Boilers look to beat the Irish for the first time in their last four tries.