SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame’s offensive line did what it was supposed to against Navy.
Left tackle Zack Martin, left guard Chris Watt, center Braxston Cave, right guard Mike Golic Jr. and right tackle Christian Lombard bullied the Midshipmen’s defensive line as the Irish rushed for 293 yards in last weekend’s 50-10 win in Dublin, Ireland.
Now the linemen, who average 304 pounds, are ready to pick on someone their own size when No. 22 Notre Dame (1-0) plays host to Purdue (1-0) at 3:30 p.m. today.
This is more of a traditional college football game, Martin said. We are going to have big interior guys, who are big and physical, and then we are going to have some bigger guys who can move on the edge.
That is what Purdue has. They have two good players in the middle that can move, and they have some height and speed on the edge.
The Boilermakers’ players in the middle are 6-foot-3, 315-pound Kawann Short and 6-2, 303-pound Bruce Gaston. The two defensive tackles combined for three tackles, two for loss, and Short had a sack in Purdue’s season-opening 48-6 win over Eastern Kentucky last Saturday.
Purdue has 6-5, 275-pound Ryan Russell, 6-6, 265-pound Greg Latta, 6-5, 294-pound Ryan Isaac and 6-4, 260-pound Jalani Phillips at defensive end.
And even though the Irish had their best rushing output in last year’s 38-10 win at Purdue, running for 287 yards, they know it will hard to repeat the performance today.
We have our hands full, said running back Theo Riddick, who ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns against Navy. At the same time, as long as we do what we have to do, I feel like we have a good chance in this game.
Notre Dame’s best chance to have success is finding away to contain Short, which is a tall order.
The senior was named an All-Big Ten defensive tackle last season after he had a career-high 54 tackles and led the Boilermakers with 17 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks.
But the Irish also can’t ignore Gaston, who had 30 tackles, seven for loss, and three sacks last season.
They have really experienced guys in the front, Watt said. Kawann has been starting at that spot for three or four years, and Gaston, this is his third year starting. They definitely have good camaraderie up there, and they do a real good job of penetrating gaps. We know we are going to have to be really physical on our blocks and have great technique.
Note: Doug Randolph, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker from Woodberry Forest in Richmond, Va., announced he orally committed to Notre Dame on his Twitter account Friday. Randolph is rated a four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals.com and 24/7Sports.com. He is rated a three-start prospect by Scout.com. He is the 20th member of the Irish’s 2013 class, and he joins Bishop Luers’ Jaylon Smith, Alex Anzalone, Danny Mattingly and Michael Deeb as linebackers who have committed to the Irish.