1st Half Review

A press box review of the first half's key moments.

Notre Dame Western Michigan First Half Notes A press box review of the first half's key moments.

Offense

  • Cierre Wood made his first career start but Michael Floyd stole the show, scoring the second longest touchdown of his career – an 80-yard post route on the game's opening play. Floyd slowed to catch Crist's purposefully underthrown ball (into solo coverage), corralled the ball with his chest and spun away from the fallen defender at the Irish 49-yard line before racing the final 51 yards for the score.

    It was Floyd's 20th career TD catch to move into 5th-place on the program's career list.

  • Dayne Crist showed poor pocket awareness on rolling pocket right, sacked on 3rd down when he turned back into the pursuit (that is coming free by design) and the Irish are forced to punt (WMU eventually ties the score with a 15-play, 59-yard drive).

  • A non-block by Theo Riddick limits Wood for a 3-yard gain…Wood gains six more on a next-play middle screen but a formation penalty changes the down-and-distance to 3rd and 6 rather than 3rd and 1: Tyler Eifert catches his second pass of the game (and third of his career) but promptly fumbles after a series of spin moves. The redshirt-freshman is bailed out by junior Braxston Cave's recovery. That's the 11th fumble by the Irish offense this season (lost six to date).
  • The 3rd series slop-fest continues as freshman T.J. Jones is called for holding (declined) on a loss of four yards on 1st down…Riddick appears to be held on an ill-advised pass from Crist…the Irish QB escapes backfield pressure on the next play but his 3rd down scramble is limited to four yards and the Irish are forced to punt, 9 yards short of the marker. ND 7 WMU 7 at the end of the 1st Quarter

  • The Irish respond after Fleming's interception with a (left-to-right) reverse to slot receiver John Goodman who stopped in his tracks in the backfield to find Michael Floyd on a post pattern for a 32-yard touchdown. Again adjusting to an underthrown ball, Floyd gathered himself at the 5-yard line to dive into the end zone for a 14-7 Irish lead.

  • After a Johnson fumble recovery, Notre Dame takes over at its own 46-yard line but the Irish offensive line apparently decided to begin their fall break one day early…Crist misses a wide open Goodman down the left seam, instead bouncing a right seam pass to a triple-covered Riddick…The line again breaks down, this time on a poorly executed screen to Allen (dropped) and the Irish are again forced to punt.

  • Thanks to quality special teams play and a three-and-out defensively, the Irish regain possession at the WMU 36-yard line with 10:52 remaining…Eifert catches another, this time on a delayed cross for 13 yards and an easy first down…Riddick breaks two tackles to gain 13 yards after catching a short out to the right side (Floyd was wide open down the post for a third touchdown…Crist executes his best sprint-option fake of the season then sprints to the vacated right side for a 9-yard touchdown, a 20-7 lead and his fourth rushing score of the season. Ruffer's PAT is blocked; it's the second missed extra point of his career (he missed his first attempt in 2008).

  • Crist's four rushing touchdowns are the most by an ND QB since Jarious Jackson had seven in 1999.

  • Leading 20-10 after a WMU field goal, Dayne Crist takes over at his own 21-yard line with 5:05 remaining: he's immediately sacked when LDE Paul Hazell splits Zack Martin and Trevor Robinson to take down the Irish QB for a 7-yard loss…Shades of 2007 with no communication or accountability up front and the Irish are forced to punt after Sack No. 3 of the half…

  • The Irish take over at the WMU 44-yard line with just over three minutes remaining: Crist bounces one (under pressure) to Eifert then throws high to an open Michael Floyd on the Irish sideline after scrambling away from pressure (Robert Hughes injured on the play)…

  • Outside of two throws to Michael Floyd, the Irish offense has been erratic…

  • Wood catches a middle screen, fumbles (No. 12 by the Irish), but recovers to set up a 4th and 5 at the WMU 39-yard line with 2:29 remaining. The Broncos call two timeout in response to Notre Dame lining up for a 4th down attempt – the latter when they were apparently convinced the Irish were indeed intent on going for it…Crist's scramble to his right buys time to find a wide open Eifert () for a 39-yard touchdown - the first of the redshirt-freshman's career and his fourth catch of the afternoon. 27-10 ND with 2:19 remaining.

Defense

  • After an ugly backyard formation resulted in a tipped pass incomplete, Manti Te'o absolutely lambasted WMU running back Aaron Winchester on the Broncos' second play. Freshman Prince Shembo entered the game on the first series as part of Notre Dame's Dime defense.

  • Gray is called for the front arm hook (often hidden from the official's sight line) and subsequent pass interference for the second time in three weeks. Junior DE Ethan Johnson responds with a next play sack of a rolling Alex Carder for a 2-yard loss.
  • Consecutive completions by Carder down the heart of the Irish defense bring the Broncos to the Irish 31-yard line. In addition to Shembo, Zeke Motta, Hafis Williams, Sean Cwynar and Robert Blanton have also appeared for the Irish in the first two defensive series.

  • Motta with the game's second big hit, crushing Tevin Drake after a minimal gain on a sweep right. Darrin Walls was beaten deep on the ensuing play but Carder chose to throw opposite (incomplete). Western Michigan's offset center formation (best described as the swinging gate with no "swing") picks up two yards on a QB sneak for a 1st Down. The Broncos threaten the Irish goal with a 5-yard Tevin Drake sweep to the 4-yard line. A hustling Ethan Johnson dives on Carder to stop the QB draw just short of the goal line. Carder is stopped short again on a standard sneak to set up 4th and 1 at the goal line.

  • Carder completes the 15-play, 59-yard drive with a fantastic spinning effort, breaking free of Carlo Calabrese's initial hit to break a 90-year scoreless streak vs. the Irish. 7-7

  • Junior CAT linebacker Darius Fleming makes the best play of his career in pass coverage, expertly dropping into the left flat to step in front of a 9-yard out-route for his first career interception…(7-7 score with 14:49 remaining in the half).

  • Fleming teams with Ian Williams for a 12-yard sack on the next defensive snap…Good throw by Carder to the deep corner vs. Cover 2 defense; the pass gains 20 to set up 3rd and 2 at the WMU 46-yard line. The ensuing pass play is easily converted for a first down but Gary Gray forces a fumble, recovered by a diving Ethan Johnson.

  • Needles spearing penalty (unnecessary roughness) on Kerry Neal to begin the drive with 9:00 remaining…Dan Fox in for Calabrese as the Broncos gain a third consecutive first down…Neal back in four plays after committing the penalty that buoyed this march downfield; he apparently learned his lesson…Fox makes his first tackle from scrimmage though on the 5th first down of the series (Calabrese checks back in for his classmate Fox)…Okay I'll ask: Would Broncos sophomore QB Alex Carder start at Notre Dame?

  • An unblocked Manti Te'o forces Carder to throw early and the Irish force a field goal from their 5-yard line. The 23-yard boot cuts the lead to 20-10 with 5:13 remaining…

  • WMU takes over at its own 45-yard line with 3:46 remaining: Tremendous coverage by Gary Gray on a go-route down the right sideline…Te'o times another blitz and drills Carder but not before a pinpoint out route to Juan Nunez gains 7 yards to set up 3rd and 3…Gray steps in front of a slant route (out-muscled Nunez on his route) to pick off the Carder pass and give the Irish possession at the WMU 44-yard line. Great play by Gray/poor route by Nunez…

  • With a chance to get the ball back at the 1:40 mark and with a 27-10 lead, Zeke Motta misses a tackle at the marker that results in a 17-yard gain and a Broncos conversion on 3rd and 10…A Johnson deflection sets up 3rd and 7 two plays later but an illegal substitution penalty on the Irish defenses changes the down-and-distance to 3rd and 2 just passed midfield: a horrendous holding call vs. Robert Blanton results in 10 yards and an automatic first down. Carder escapes pressure and scrambles for a 20-yard gain down to the Irish 18-yard line with 1:14 remaining…A 9-yard crossing route followed by an Aaron Winchester burst over the left side sets up the Broncos with a 1st and Goal at the ND 4-yard line…

  • The Broncos are limited to one-yard up the u and then use their final timeout of the half (at least they used two to watch the Irish score a 39-yard touchdown on the previous drive)…Carder walks in on a gutsy QB draw play for a 3-yard score, trimming the Irish lead to 27-17 heading into intermission.

Special Teams

John Goodman fair catches a punt for what seems like the 25th consecutive time this season…Back-to-back Broncos kick-offs land a solid 5-8 yards deep in the north end zone…Bennett Jackson makes special teams stop No. 6 on the year, erasing a poor punt by Ben Turk (35-yard line drive) with the zero-yard return…Bennett Jackson makes special teams tackle No. 7, this time at the WMU one-yard line after an initial muff by the return man…Goodman correctly signals for a fair catch four snaps later to set up the Irish with 1st Down at the Broncos' 36-yard line with 10:52 remaining…Ruffer's third kickoff results in his fourth touchback of the season…A third WMU kick-off lands past the goal but Bennett Jackson returns to the 21-yard line…

Of note: Representatives of the Orange Bowl were in the press box for today's contest.

The team's combined for 7 rushing yards in the first 26:11 of the opening half.


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