Quoting first-year Notre Dame Head Coach Tyrone Willingham from the television program Inside Notre Dame Football, - "Purdue will be a very stiff challenge based on the style of offense they play and the things they do defensively". But, what can Boilermaker fans expect to see from Tyrone Willingham's Irish team in his coaching debut at Notre Dame Stadium?
September 7, 2002 will not be the first time Tyrone Willingham coaches against a Boilermaker football team. As an assistant, Willingham spent eight seasons coaching secondary and special teams. Three of those seasons, 1980-82, were with Purdue Big10 opponent Michigan State University. Purdue won the 1980 MSU game, 36-25, as QB Mark Herrmann passed for 340 yards. Boiler All-American TE Dave Young caught 12 of Herrmann's passes for 172 yards. Purdue also won the '81 MSU game by a score of 27-26 and the '82 MSU game 24-21. Coach Willingham's record as an assistant is 0-3 against Purdue. In addition to coaching secondary and special teams he spent three seasons coaching receivers and six seasons coaching running backs for various teams.
More recently, Head Coach Willingham lead Stanford to a 44-36-1 record over seven seasons (4 winning seasons, 3 losing seasons). During his reign as Head Coach Stanford outscored their opponents by a total of 2229 points to 2215 points. His most successful campaign was the 2001 season when the Cardinal finished with a record of 9-3, tied for second in the Pac-10, and ranked 9th in the BCS. Statistically, the 2001 Stanford team ranked 10th in the nation in total offense: averaging: 201.0 yards/game rushing and 4.4 yards/rush; 250.5 yards/game passing and 15.7 yards/reception. They ran a total of 840 offensive plays with 508 (60.5 percent) rushing plays and 332 (39.5 percent) pass plays. Stanford scored on 76.4 percent of their red-zone possessions as they managed 31 touchdowns and 8 field goals in 51 possessions. Their total scoring was 54 touchdowns and 10 field goals. Defensively, Stanford ranked 68th in the nation in total defense: 17th in rushing defense (109.6 yards/game); 106th in pass defense (274.8 yards/game). The defense allowed opponents to score on 81.8 percent of red-zone possessions.
After only one game, a Notre Dame victory over Maryland, it's difficult to predict how Coach Willingham's West Coast style system will perform at Notre Dame. In the Maryland game N.D. made the big plays, 3 interceptions by Shane Walton and a punt returned for a touchdown by Vontez Duff. Offensively, N.D ran a total of 72 play with 45 (62.5 percent) rushing plays and 27 (37.5 percent) pass plays. The Irish averaged 2.9 yards/rush and 13.3 yards/reception. N.D.'s time of possession was 41:04 and Maryland's time of possession was 18:56. N.D. QB Carlyle Holiday passed for 226 yards, completing 17 of 27 (62.9 percent) attempts with 0 interceptions and 0 touchdowns. N.D.'s scoring was limited to 5 field goals out of 6 attempts and the punt return. The Irish offense did not score.
During the 2001 season Purdue defended against 848 opponents' offensive plays or about 71 plays/game. Opponents ran 480 (56.6 percent) rushing plays averaging 3.1 yards/rush and 368 (43.4 percent) pass plays averaging 12.5 yards/reception. Boilermaker opponents complete 53.5 percent of their passes and were intercepted 21 times. Considering Coach Tiller's history of highly productive offense units...........it would be pointless to try to interpret the 2001 Boilermaker offensive statistics and apply them to this game.
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