Posted by Tom Fornelli
Before Saturday afternoon, Brian Kelly had never set foot inside Notre Dame Stadium for a football game. Now, thirty minutes into his first game in South Bend, the new Notre Dame head coach has to like what he's seen so far.
The Irish currently hold a 13-3 lead over the Purdue Boilermakers at halftime thanks to what has been a balanced attack on offense and strong performance from the defense.
Quarterback Dayne Crist -- in his first start -- had a solid effort in the first half, completing 12 of his 16 pass attempts for 126 yards, but the ground game has been the driving force for the Irish. Armando Allen has 48 yards rushing and a touchdown on only eight carries, while sophomore Cierre Wood has mad the most of his college debut with 43 yards on six carries.
On the other side of the ball, the Notre Dame defense has done a nice job of slowing down Robert Marve and the rest of the Boilermakers offense. What was a glaring weakness for Notre Dame during the Charlie Weis era looks like it may end up as a strength under Kelly. The only time the Irish defense had any trouble stopping Purdue was when backup quarterback Rob Henry took over for Marve during the second quarter and picked up 16 yards on three carries to get Purdue inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line.
The Irish were able to hold once Marve returned to take snaps, and forced Purdue to settle for a field goal.
Of course, the second half has been a big problem for Notre Dame the last few years, so the true indicator of which direction this team is heading will be in the third and fourth quarters, and whether or not they can finish what they've started.