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Pregame vs. Western Illinois

Though getting a good read on Purdue will be tough today against FCS Western Illinois, here are a couple things to watch:

(Other than what has already been discussed here and here, of course.)

  • Special teams. Notre Dame had a 38-yard punt return and averaged 25 yards on two kickoffs in the opener. For as much talk as Danny Hope did about getting starters on special teams coverage units, I noticed only Joe Holland on any of the units last week. We'll see if that changes -- and makes a difference today. Carson Wiggs handled all the kicking duties, but with WIU as the opponent, perhaps Cody Webster will get a shot to punt. Top receiver Keith Smith apparently will stick at punt returner -- Hope called him a "natural" at fielding punts -- and maybe we'll get to see him actually return one after fair-catching everything against the Irish.
  • How many snaps will Rob Henry get? His athleticism and running skills gave the team a nice boost during Henry's four plays last week. Hope said he'd not only like to get Henry on the field more, but he'd also like to let the backup quarterback throw the ball. Henry rushed three times and handed off against Notre Dame. I think it's interesting that Henry is getting snaps, especially in an option-type offense, because starter Robert Marve appears just as mobile and able to generate rushing yards. But maybe Purdue is actually trying to develop depth at backup. It's what we heard all last season with Caleb TerBush, but he hardly played.
  • Ryan Kerrigan. Notre Dame used tight ends and guards to help block Purdue's top pass rusher. What will Western Illinois' strategy be? Will it even matter? It's unlikely the Leathernecks have the same kind of options up front to fend off Kerrigan.

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