Eye in the Sky: Dialing up the Dime

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco turned to a Dime defensive package in third-down passing situations over the last two weeks. Though they've received mixed results to date, look for the practice to continue over the next three weeks as key personnel settles into various roles.

Notre Dame

Click here for Part I and the game's defensive recap.

Third And In-Progress

A year after being unable to feature a dime package due to a dearth of trustworthy defensive backs, Kelly and Diaco have embraced the six-DB look in most third-down passing situations.

Dime package personnel includes:

Notre Dame employed its Dime set on 10 snaps, all in situations in which Purdue faced 3rd and 6 or greater.

- 3rd and 7 at ND 21: 7-yard slant in front of Luke for a first down. Notre Dame blitzed both its inside and outside 'backer on Luke's side, opening the field to a slant route. (Purdue scored on a 3rd and 12 screen pass vs. Notre Dame's base 4-3 three snaps later). The line showed a 3-man front.

- 3rd and 17 at PU 36: Against a 3-man front (Williams aligned at "inside" linebacker), a swing pass gains eight yards, well short of the first down (Grace on the tackle), forcing a punt.

- 3rd and 6 at ND 10: Against a 4-man front (Williams as a pass-rushing end), a slant route is defended well by Luke and incomplete. Purdue misses a 27-yard field goal.

- 3rd and 7 at PU 38: Against a 4-man front, QB Rob Henry completes a 16-yard scramble pass throwing late over the middle of the defense but complete between Luke and Collinsworth.

- (Same Drive) 3rd and 12 at ND 44: Against a 3-man front, Henry hits RB Akeem Hunt on a short dump out of the backfield and Hunt outruns Williams and Grace for 13 yards to the sticks.

- (Same Drive) 3rd an 8 at ND 30: Notre Dame's 3-man front diagnoses another screen attempt and Henry is forced to throw into the ground. The drive ends in a 47-yard field goal and 10-0 Purdue lead.

- 3rd and 10 at PU 39: The defense's first three-and-out includes a 3-down dime look in which a dump pass to Hunt is limited to four yards thanks to Collinsworth and Shembo on the boundary. Purdue is forced to punt.

- (Second Half) 3rd and 7 at PU 42: Notre Dame blitzes from a 3-down alignment but Henry beats the heavy pressure with a crossing route against Luke in man coverage for eight yards and a first down. Tough cover for the freshman. Purdue scored a touchdown to take a 17-10 lead later in the drive.

- 3rd and 7 at PU 20: A screen to Hunt gains nothing with Russell and Luke closing on the play and the Boilers were forced to punt.

- 3rd and 12 at PU 42: Purdue's final possession is stopped by a 3-down dime in which Shembo applies immediate backside pressure with the IRish dropping eight into coverage. Grace breaks up a sideline pass and Purdue is forced to punt, never regaining possession over the final 7:22.

The Irish dime package forced four punts in 10 opportunities. They won a fifth holding Purdue to a field goal attempt on a 33-yard march and stiffened to force a 47-yard field goal (made), though were beaten by two third-down situations on that same drive.

Overall, the Dime "Won" six times and lost four. Considering the offense's disadvantage in third and 6 or more, the Irish are likely looking for at least eight wins in 10 opportunities.

Of note: Notre Dame employed a base 4-3 look on Purdue's final touchdown, a 4th and 7 pass for a nine-yard score. The Irish defense was in a base 4-3 when Purdue scored its first touchdown as well, a screen pass on 3rd and 12 to Akeem Hunt.

Purdue's other touchdown, a quick look to the slot that turned into a catch-and run through the Irish secondary, came against a base 3-4 defense.

Jackson's 34-yard interception touchdown occurred on 3rd and 3 with the Irish in a 4-3 front.

Around the Gridiron

Interesting to see "Stud" defensive end (it's the position name, not my observation) Stephon Tuitt aligned to the boundary at times Saturday night. Tuitt usually plays to the field but I noted both Sheldon Day and Ishaq Williams as Stud (field side) DE at times vs. the Boilers. My guess? Tuitt's not moving as swiftly as last season and some time covering boundary roll-outs is considered prudent rather than putting him in open space.

Of course, it might have been strategic -- the left side of Purdue's offensive line is stronger than its right, and in each instance, Tuitt matched up as such.

- I'm not sure how much Collinsworth brings to the table over other safeties in coverage, but he's been fantastic as a blitzer off the edge over the first three games. Unfortunately for the Irish secondary, it appears both Collinsworth and Elijah Shumate are better closer to scrimmage than on the back end….

- Speaking of safety play: time to step it up, Matthias Farley. He had a hand in three of Notre Dame's five worst defensive plays at Michigan and in two of Purdue's three touchdowns.

- Backup defensive lineman Kona Schwenke played better vs. Purdue than he did vs. Michigan, and much better in both than he fared vs. Temple. Scwhenke brought late pressure that should have resulted in a turnover on downs near the Irish goal line but miscommunication between Dan Fox and KeiVarae Russell resulted in a touchdown instead.

- Both Sheldon Day and Ishaq Williams were blatantly held (arm and jersey grabs) in front of the line judge on the right side of Purdue's offensive line. Neither drew a flag…

- Though I thought he played poorly vs. the Wolverines, Shembo was the defensive player of the game vs. Temple and was better on film than live Saturday at Purdue. Look for more production from the senior OLB/DE over the next three weeks.

- Of Note: Notre Dame faced 62 snaps Saturday night. The 64 recorded below include two Purdue plays called back due to penalty.

Defensive Sets vs. the Boilers:
- Base 3-4: 30 snaps
- Base 4-3: 24 snaps
- 3-Down Dime: 8 snaps
- 4-Down Dime: 2 snaps

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