Eye in the Sky: QB and Tight Ends

The last of our three offensive film sessions examines Dayne Crist coupled with Irish tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Mike Ragone.

Kyle Rudolph

Caught a quick out from Crist to get into an early rhythm; Rudolph deteriorated physically as the game progressed…Caught an inside hook one play later but it was negated by a procedure penalty on Robert Hughes…Executed a nice block in space from the backfield - lined up in the pro set, Rudolph found and secured Greg Williams to allow Cierre Wood room for a 7-yard gain on 3rd and 4…Ran his patented out from the right slot one play later; Rudolph still looked athletic at this stage of the contest (ND's first drive of the 2nd Quarter).

2nd Half:Failed to lose his defender on a slow-developing left-to-right cross on 3rd down; that play has been adequately scouted by ND opponents after it worked vs. Purdue on the season's first 3rd and medium-yardage situation…Started to show some wear on consecutive check down throws from Crist for a pair of 6-yard gains on 2nd and 20 and 3rd and 14 as the Irish punted for the second time in three 3rd Quarter possessions.

Could barely move on an out-and-up to begin Notre Dame's first drive of the final quarter; Rudolph needs at least a week of rest to have a chance to help the team down the home stretch…Managed a strong drive block later in the drive to help Allen gain one yard on 2nd and 1 for a new set of downs…Quick out from the near slot two plays later gains 5 yards…Took his eyes off the ball on an uncharacteristic drop one play later…

Mike Ragone

Caught his first pass of the season: an out to the right side for 11 yards and a first down at the Panthers 5-yard line; Ragone lined up attached to the right tackle and snuck into the flat upon the snap. Ran a little high after the catch, allowing an easy one-on-one tackle…

2nd Half:Executed a seal block of Lindsey to aid Allen in a 2nd and 1 run for an Irish first down (Allen fumbled on the play but his forward progress was ruled down). Missed in space two plays later but got in a chippy late-hit for good measure…Missed Sheard, then failed to block anyone on a 1st Down run by Armando Allen on the final drive…An unconscionable drop by Ragone who had an easy first down on a bubble screen/flair to the near side on 2nd and 4. That's not allowable in co-ed flag.

Final Thoughts: I'd consider sitting Rudolph for at least the week leading up to Western Michigan and through the following Tuesday, easing him back to part-time action on November 23rd vs. Navy. Tyler Eifert (shoulder) must be ready to go and Ragone must put a poor debut behind him. He's better than he showed Saturday.

Dayne Crist

Definitely gets a pass on the first play/sack; that smacked of 2007 protection - thankfully for a single play…Surprisingly poor third down throw outside to John Goodman on the game's opening drive; it didn't appear Goodman took the out-route too deep…Broke one arm tackle on his first read-option keeper but ran into MLB Greg Williams two yards later…Missed a corner route to Michael Floyd who was undercut by the defender; Crist put too much air under the throw, regardless…Began a 12-12 streak with a quick out to Theo Riddick who made two defenders miss in space for a 14-yard gain…Best throw of the day: a 14-yard post to Michael Floyd from the near (boundary) side to set the Irish up inside the 7-yard line…Poor pocket awareness led to a sack and 7-yard loss on the following snap; Crist looked far too mechanical on that particular play…Actually threw too short of Floyd (who could have been called for interference along with the cornerback) on the game's first touchdown.

Better on his second bubble screen (threw far ahead of Floyd on the first), hitting Riddick relatively in stride albeit on a minimal gain…Again showed he can unleash some heat when he has time, drilling Riddick for an 11-yard hook on the ensuing play; a rhythmic Crist is pretty impressive in this offense…Bought time on his 10-yard touchdown run with a quick move to his right, then deked oncoming DE Jabaal Sheard before sprinting down the sideline for an easy touchdown (Sheard fell for the oldest backyard hesitation move in the game). 14-3 ND

Perfect post toss to T.J. Jones for a 37-yard gain to open the fourth series; Jones had to dive, but that pass couldn't have been thrown much better in a slow-developing play vs. decent coverage…Had a string of 12 straight broken by a miscommunication with Floyd, then threw far outside Floyd who had an easy touchdown on a fake-slant/fade at the goal line. Floyd made an incredible one-handed catch but his knee landed out of bounds. Crist needs serious work on nearly every type of touch pass…Terrible pocket awareness and ball security on the game's third and final sack: Crist was stripped by Sheard stepping up in the pocket. Just a careless play by the junior who had plenty of room to slide to his left…The Irish are held to a field goal as a result: ND 17 Pitt 3

2nd Half: Betrayed by four poor routes from his intended targets on the second half's first 3rd down situation, throwing incomplete to a covered Rudolph 20-3 ND …Looked for contact at the tail end of an 8-yard gain on a designed 1st and 20 QB draw…On the following snap, fired errant and high of Riddick on a crossing route over the middle (that's begging to be intercepted by a quality free safety…Threw off his back foot in a scramble to his right, throwing short of Floyd in a one-on-one situation downfield. Although you want to give Floyd a chance in a jump ball situation, the received did have a step on the defender…

Nice toss on a 45-yard post to Floyd that was negated by an obvious hold…Missed a nearly crippled Rudolph to begin the fourth quarter. Any other skill position player on the Irish team turns that into an 84-yard touchdown… Responded by drilling an out route to Riddick for 14 on the next play…Hit Riddick in relative stride on a bubble screen the following play but the sophomore still had to go low for the grab. That pass should be automatic…Fired to Riddick a third consecutive completion this time for 16 yards on a tunnel screen…Nice pass to Rudolph on a scramble to his right but the big, banged up target dropped the face-high throw. The Irish settled for field goal No. 3 two plays later: ND 23 Pitt 10

Took a read option for five yards on 2nd and 2, turning it upfield into contact to finish the run…Confidently hit Floyd on a 13-yard out to begin Notre Dame's final drive. Floyd pushed off to break free…Hit Ragone for an easy first down but the tight end dropped the perfect throw…Crist was pressured into a bad throw to Allen, open in the right flat and the Irish gave the ball back to the Panthers for a final series.

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