First Notre Dame Drive/2nd Quarter: ND 7 MSU 0
Breakdown: The Irish began from their own 20-yard line following an end zone interception and resulting touchback by safety Zeke Motta. Skill position starters for the 2nd Quarter include Michael Floyd, Theo Riddick, T.J. Jones, Kyle Rudolph and Armando Allen. The offensive line (from left to right): Zack Martin, Chris Stewart, Braxston Cave, Trevor Robinson and Taylor Dever. Dayne Crist remained at quarterback throughout the contest. Tailback Jonas Gray entered for Allen late in the drive.
- (1st and 10 at the ND 20-yard line): Crist throws incomplete to a well-covered Floyd down the right sideline. A fake handoff, then fake bubble screen to Rudolph froze both Spartans safeties, but cornerback Johnny Adams didn't bite and was wearing Floyd's jersey on the deep route. Not a bad decision by Crist because it was solo coverage by a smallish CB on Floyd downfield.
- (1st and 10 at the 20-yard line): Allen gains 12 on an inside counter over the left side. Taylor Dever pancaked All-American Greg Jones in space to provide Allen a free ride to the second level and the entire Irish O-Line fulfilled their assignments.
- (1st and 10 at the ND 32-yard line): Allen loses a yard on a delay to the left side as Chris L. Rucker's cornerback blitz goes unblocked over the near side.
- (2nd and 11 at the 31-yard line): Crist again has good protection but bails on his pocket one second early, gaining two yards on a run up the middle. Michael Floyd ran a lazy crossing route on the play.
- (3rd and 9 at the 33-yard line): Another delay of game sets up the Irish with 3rd and 14 from the 28-yard line. Kelly appeared upset with center Braxston Cave who delayed his snap with the clock running down.
- (3rd and 14 at the 28-yard line): Crist fires a dart on a backside in-route from Riddick. Riddick took one step to the far sideline before bending inside for the low catch and an Irish first down.
- (1st and 10 at the ND 43-yard line): Allen gains 7 yards to midfield on a run over right tackle. A strong initial inside seal by Dever, followed by a necessary cut block on DE Tyler Hoover provided Allen with space as did an outside seal by Kyle Rudolph and a block in space by Trevor Robinson. Floyd appeared to look for a crack back block vs. Robinson's assigned defender, thus leaving his cornerback free to come up and make the tackle. A solid block by Floyd on his what appeared to be his assignment (Johnny Adams) would have resulted in a huge run to the outside by Allen with the defense collapsed inside the hash.
- (2nd and 3 at midfield ): Crist throws a tunnel screen off of Allen's hands – thrown far and outside incomplete. Nearly intercepted on the deflection by the Spartans.
- (3rd and 3 at midfield): Crist finds Floyd on an out route from the near side slot for an easy 14-yard gain and a 1st down.
- (1st and 10 at the MSU 34-yard line): Crist is a tad late and low on a skinny post to Riddick. An experienced target would have gone to the ground to secure the grab but Riddick attempted to catch on the run and took a shot from Chris L. Rucker.
- (2nd and 10 at the MSU 34-yard line): The Irish catch MSU in a delayed linebacker blitz up the middle as Crist shuffles a toss to Jonas Gray for 8 yards over the near right side. An inside block by Floyd (rather than to the sidelines) would have given Gray a path to the pylon (Floyd didn't miss, but didn't give Gray a "square-fit" block, either).
- (3rd and 2 at the MSU 26-yard line): Following an Irish timeout due to play confusion (appeared to be Gray's mistake), Gray gains four yards over the left side. Backup tight end Tyler Eifert executed the critical seal block on defensive end Colin Neely while a pulling Trevor Robinson led Gray on the sprint-option counter run to first down yardage. Both Stewart and Cave won at the point.
- (1st and 10 at the MSU 22-yard line): Allen gains nothing with no room to the right. Robinson was beaten at the point and Eifert failed to engage the pursuing backside linebacker.
- (2nd and 10 at the MSU 22-yard line): Crist hits Floyd for 5 yards on a quick out to the left side but the junior target suffers his second fumble in the red zone this season. The Spartans recover and are correctly awarded the ball by replay review.
Drive Summary: Moving Floyd around the formation is a prudent tact going forward. Floyd has now fumbled three times in the red zone in his last five football games dating back to a Senior Day loss to UConn last year. Eifert's going to be a heck of a tight end over the next three seasons and would be a force in tandem with Rudolph should the latter return for his senior year. I'd like to see a bit more Jonas Gray.
Second Notre Dame Drive/2nd Quarter
Breakdown: Following a Michigan State punt and penalty, the Irish began from their own 27-yard line. Dayne Crist's first pass was intercepted by Johnny Adams at the Spartans 6-yard line.
- (1st and 10 at the MSU 27-yard line): Crist rolls right and fires an off-balance pass to a well-covered Theo Riddick, who ran a deep flag route from the right slot. Spartans cornerback Johnny Adams diagnosed the play, left his assigned receiver Tai-ler Jones in the flat, and made a leaping grab. The pass would have been contested by Spartans safety Trenton Robinson, regardless. Jones had an easy reception underneath had Crist simply looked off Adams prior to throwing into coverage.
Drive Summary: Poor technique on the throw and a terrible read and pass by Crist into double-coverage on the interception.
Third Notre Dame Drive/2nd Quarter
Breakdown: Following a game-tying Michigan State touchdown, the Irish begin at their own 30-yard line with 2:18 remaining.
- (1st and 10 at the ND 30-yard line): Crist throws incomplete to Allen with a pass a bit low and away.
- (2nd and 10 at the ND 30-yard line): Rolling to his left, Crist throws intentionally deep and incomplete to a well-covered T.J. Jones (double coverage) on a flag route to the far left side. Riddick was open short for six-plus yards on the same side underneath.
- (3rd and 10 at the ND 30-yard line): Following the third pre-snap timeout of the half (appeared to be an alignment Crist sails a third down offering
- (4th and 10 at the ND 30-yard line): With the Irish attempting to set-up a tunnel screen to Riddick (left to right), Crist fires incomplete to Kyle Rudolph, who had run downfield as a lead blocker on the play. An ugly series and the Irish are forced to punt.
Second Quarter Observations:
- Consecutive ugly series to end the half; a fumble in the red zone to begin the quarter…the Irish offense did a 180 after a crisp opening period.
- A lack of downfield punch made the Irish a predictable group through the season's first 10 quarters.