Eye in the Sky: Linebackers

A film review of the linebackers' efforts in Saturday's win over Pittsburgh.

Sophomore Calabrese earns his second consecutive game ball though the Irish 'backers probably owe the front wall a few meals following Saturday's 23-17 win.

Carlo Calabrese

Took an extra step deep with the tight end running past him but recovered to smack down WR Mike Shanahan after a 7-yard grab in his zone on the Panther's opening pass play…Caught up in traffic on the next snap and Lewis gained 8 yards up the gut…Shed a block to stop Lewis after 3 yards on 1st and 10 in the red zone…Failed to sift through traffic at the line but recovered to dive on RB Ray Graham 12 yards downfield on a right tackle run…Jumped over a cut block by Hynoski to force Sunseri an underneath pass to Lewis.

Second Half: Second stop on the "Hynoski screen" though this one worked for 7 yards to open the half…Buried by Hynoski on Graham's 13-yard run to begin the second half…Helped Brian Smith stop Graham for one-yard later in the 3rd Quarter…Failed to break down and missed badly as a result vs. Graham in the hole; Graham gained 7 on the play after shaking Calabrese in the backfield…Nice shed and stop of Graham on the following play to stop the sophomore in the backfield.

Manti Te'o

Buried in the backfield in his first collision with FB Henry Hynoski…Blew an assignment in coverage vs. Hynoski (can't see how it would have been anyone else's responsibility) and the fullback snuck out of the backfield for an easy 13-yard gain into the flat…Needless, pointless, soft hit/nudge on QB Tino Sunseri – technically late, and if you're going to hit him, make it count – incurs a 15-yard personal foul…Secured by Hynoski again on a 5-yard carry by Dion Lewis, good for a Panthers first down…Whiffed on Sunseri in space, allowing a 7-yard scramble on 1st and 10; Te'o was obviously affected by missing practice due to the stomach flu as this was his least impressive effort since uneven opener...Impressive coverage down the middle seam vs. Cameron Saddler, a 5'7" returner/receiver. A perfect pass would have resulted in a touchdown, but Sunseri was rarely perfect. All-around fine effort in a difficult (ridiculous, actually), downfield matchup.

Second Half: Controlled and turned by Pitt LG Chris Jacobsen as Graham gained 13 yards up the gut…Missed Lewis (failed to wrap-up) dead-to-rights and the hard-nosed back gained four extra yards to set up 4th and 1 on the Panthers second drive of the half (converted with an eventual TD)…Controlled by Hynoski on the edge and Lewis gained 30 yards on 4th and 1, the longest rush vs. the Irish in 12 quarters…Took one on the chin from right guard Lewis Nix but Calabrese cleaned up the mess at the line of scrimmage…Benefitted from a nice surge by the Irish interior line to team with Calabrese on a stop of Hynoski, who lost the ball on a 3rd down run (Sean Cwynar made the initial hit)…Shed a block to make a solid hit on Lewis, setting up 3rd and 5 on the Panthers' penultimate drive. Big hit in the hole by Te'o who struggled most of the game.

Brian Smith

Stayed home on the edge (no blocker) to aid Kapron Lewis-Moore in a backfield stop of Lewis…Secured the edge and stopped Lewis on a run over left tackle but failed to wrap-up (he might have been held in the process) and Lewis escaped with a 4-yard sprint to the right side, making two more defenders miss before Harrison Smith stood him up to make the play.

Second Half: Stayed home to apply a solid pop in the hole vs. Ray Graham at the line of scrimmage…Not certain, but I believe Smith blew an assignment vs. Graham on what became an easy 17-yard catch and run in the flat. If not Smith, then the Irish had no chance to cover the play…Gave up his body vs. Hynoski, who buried him on the following play but the result was a clean look by Calabrese for the tackle at the line.

Prince Shembo

Credited with a QB pressure late in the first half thanks to a nice inside move vs. RT Jordan Gibbs followed by a bull rush through blocking back Dion Lewis. Shembo will be a player in 2011.

Second Half: Registered a half-sack of Sunseri thanks to a strong interior rush and outside help from Robert Blanton, whose blitz forced Sunseri to step up on the pocket on 3rd and 9. Shembo has 2.5 sacks on three 3rd Downs over the last two contests…Missed a difficult tackle in space vs. Sunseri though Shembo was shielded by a block to his thigh on the play…Bit badly on the following play (along with Robert Blanton) to allow a naked bootleg touchdown by Sunseri. Way too easy.

You'll get the occasional missed assignment from a freshman, though Robert Blanton appeared to be the chief culprit on the play.

Darius Fleming

Shed the left tackle's block to stop Lewis from behind on an off-tackle run to the right; Fleming lined up as a down lineman on the play…Exploded around right tackle Jordan Gibbs to bury Sunseri on a front-side sack, his third takedown of the season…Penetrated and dove to stop Lewis for a one-yard gain, though that's all he needed to set up Pitt with a 1st and 10 at the Irish 22-yard line with 0:31 remaining in the half.

The Irish need more (impact plays) from Fleming, though he does secure the edge better than the rest of his position mates and is charged with DE responsibilities when the Irish give a 4-3 look.

Kerry Neal

Good speed and hustle to cover Baldwin in the flat, though the talented junior fell down on the catch (no gain). I can't decide if its good or bad that I barely noticed Neal during the film review. I'll pay attention on my final look and the review of the defensive line.

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