The names of these groupings are what I have used in my offenses. I have no idea what Notre Dame calls each grouping. The key below explains each grouping. This will allow you to know who is in the game on each play.
BASE – 2 Backs, 2 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End
TREY – 1 Back, 3 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End
ACE – 1 Back, 2 Wide Receivers, 2 Tight Ends
POWER – 2 Backs, 1 Wide Receiver, 2 Tight Ends
POS, D-D, PG Play Description
POS – Field Position (N = Notre Dame / P = Penn State)
D-D – Down and Distance
PG – Personnel Grouping
All of the route names are my terminology. Again, I do not know what Notre Dame calls each route.
The Irish started two true freshman (Clausen and Allen), three sophomores (West, Young and Wenger), four juniors (Schwapp, Grimes, Turkovich, and Duncan), and two seniors (Sullivan and Carlson).
N20 1-10 BASE – False start by Paul Duncan.
This obviously isn't a good way to start the game. Not only do you lose five yards but you also get the crowd immediately into things. This would be a sign of things to come for Duncan. You teach offensive linemen to watch the ball and not listen to the snap count. That rule is especially true in a loud setting.
N15 1-15 BASE – Pass complete to Armando Allen for 5 yards.
It appeared ND had a high-low play called here. John Carlson was running a short crossing route and Armando Allen was running a swing. If the backside linebacker sunk, which he did, the ball goes to Armando. If he would have come up to Armando you would have seen Clausen hit Carlson coming behind on the crosser. Penn State brought only the front four. Wenger got beat on the second move by the defensive tackle, but held him off long enough for Clausen to get the pass off.
N20 2-10 BASE – Pass complete to Armando Allen for 15 yards.
The Irish had a three-step pass play called. I like what the Irish are doing with their three-step game with Armando in the game. Rather than having both backs block they are flaring Armando out. This was not a designed swing to Armando. Initially Jimmy was looking to the strong side where David Grimes was running a speed out and John Carlson was running a quick out. There might have been some confusion on who was blocking who up front. John Sullivan and Dan Wenger blocked the same guy which allowed the strong-side inside linebacker to come free. Asaph Schwapp picked him up so there was no one to account for the strong-side outside linebacker who came free. Sam Young whiffed on his cut block so there were two guys free to Jimmy's right. He spun out and dumped it off to Armando who made a very nice run on the sideline for a nice game.
N35 1-10 TREY – Run to Armando Allen for minus-1 yard.
I wonder if Armando Allen messed up on his footwork here and got to the hole too fast. The Irish were pulling both John Sullivan and Michael Turkovich from the backside. Sullivan did a great job putting Sean Lee, who was blitzing, on the ground. Turkovich would have had to pick up Dan Connor but Armando beat him to there and so did Connor. Dan Wenger needs to sustain his block longer.
N34 2-11 TREY – Pass complete to Armando Allen for 13 yards.
Great play call here by Coach Weis. Paul Duncan did a nice job inviting the defensive end up-field, wide, and then cutting him. It wasn't the prettiest cut you'll ever see, but it got the job done. Turkovich and Sullivan were the downfield blockers. Turkovich whiffed on his guy but Sullivan did a nice job of getting in his way, preventing him from getting to Armando, and then getting up-field to get someone else. This was a really nice play by Sullivan. Jimmy and Armando did a really nice job of being patient and selling the play.
N47 1-10 TREY – Run to Armando Allen for 4 yards.
Penn State was bringing a double outside pressure and playing man behind it. Dan Wenger, John Sullivan, and Paul Duncan all do a nice job of blocking down/back and sealing off the defenders. John Carlson does a really nice job of washing the defensive end down. Sam Young doesn't get good contact on his defender who makes the tackle. His man was Dan Connor who did a nice job of shedding Young and making the play. If Young makes this block you've got another couple of yards and Armando one on one with the safety. Armando stumbles a little bit accelerating through the hole.
P49 2-6 BASE – Pass complete to George West for 5 yards.
The Irish had a run play called here. Based on the blocking and the action by the backs I believe it was going to be a draw play. Jimmy saw a loose corner and threw the "Look" pass to George West for 5 yards. Not a bad decision in my view. Penn State was overloading the Irish to the call and it was obvious some kind of blitz was coming. Jimmy got them out of a potentially bad play and into a nice, easy 5 yard gain. This was a nice job by George West fighting for an extra yard or two.
P44 3-1 POWER – Jimmy Clausen runs for a gain of 9 yards.
This was another nice play call by Coach Weis. It was a max protection backside with a two-man route to the call side. If not for the pressure, Jimmy had Schwapp wide open in the flat. Penn State brought an outside blitz and the safety sunk. Jimmy made a really nice play here avoiding the pressure and getting outside. He froze the defender and then beat him to the perimeter. The decision to run instead of throwing to Schwapp was also good. Schwapp does a nice job of blocking back and blowing up Sean Lee. The defender who came free I believe was Travis Thomas' man. Thomas might have been able to pick him up but he had to pick up the defensive end that beat Sam Young inside. The Irish had John Carlson in single coverage on a corner route and he had the safety beat. Had Jimmy been able to set up and make a throw he would have been able to take a shot to Carlson in the end zone. This was a missed opportunity.
P35 1-10 TREY – Pass complete to Armando Allen for minus-1 yard.
This was a designed swing screen to Armando. I'm not sure of the specific blocking scheme for this but there were a few obvious misses. At the snap its obvious Penn State is in a Cover 3 defense. I'm not sure why David Grimes would run past the safety here. I would assume that he is supposed to block this guy. Otherwise you have Grimes running down field fooling no one and no one accountable for the flat defender, who makes the tackle. I don't know this for sure, but this makes the most sense to me and is how I would design the play. Turkovich isn't able to get Sean Lee down who comes in and finishes off Armando. Duncan also isn't able to get him man.
P36 2-11 ACE – Jimmy Clausen runs for a gain of 3 yards.
Penn State is in a Cover 3 defense and only brings four defenders. The Irish keep in seven players in protecting. Carlson and Grimes are bracketed off by the underneath coverage. I'm not sure what route George West was running to the field. He would have been the only option for an open defender. Jimmy looked to Grimes on the curl route initially. I don't think based on the pre-snap look that this is where he should have gone. I think he should have looked to the field and read there. He does a nice job of seeing nothing there he liked and getting 3 yards.
P33 3-8 TREY - Incomplete pass – Drop by Armando Allen
The Irish had a screen set up for Armando but he wasn't able to make the catch. Duval Kamara did a nice job of sealing the defender outside. It appeared, based on the blocking scheme, that Armando would have come back inside after the catch. I'm not sure how much the Irish would have been able to get here. Penn State was zone blitzing and wouldn't have had anyone to account for the defensive tackle that dropped. It would have been up to Armando to make that man miss. Even if the Irish would have only gained 4 or 5 yards it would have set up for a shorter field goal.
P33 4-8 – Missed field goal by Nate Whitaker.
This was a good drive by the Irish that put them in position to get points on the board early. Coach Weis did a nice job of getting Jimmy into an early rhythm, getting Armando some touches, and then calling taking a shot downfield on 3rd and 1. The missed field goal hurt but a dropped pass prevented them from making it an easier chance for Whitaker. The missed block by Sam Young on 3rd and 1 prevented the Irish from taking a shot on a one-on-one play where John Carlson had a step on the safety. The Irish must be able to capitalize on these big play opportunities.
ND – 7 PSU – 0
What an outstanding start for the Irish defense. Before the Irish second offensive series Darrin Walls locks down Deon Butler, makes a great interception, and returns it for a touchdown. He was helped by some great blocking by his defensive mates. Then the Irish force a fumble by Austin Scott and recover it at the Penn State 37-yard line. Get one first down and you are in field goal range. The Irish go backwards. Instead of being up 13-0 or even 17-0 it's only 7-0 after this second series.
P37 1-10 BASE – False start by Paul Duncan
P42 1-15 BASE – Run to Travis Thomas for 2 yards
This was actually a nice play call. If everyone makes their block the Irish have a chance for a big gain. Your goal when designing a run play, as everyone knows, is to find a way to put yourself into a situation where you have a hat on a hat. With the motion the Irish were in great position here. Schwapp completely whiffs attempting to seal the defensive end. Duncan whiffs on Dan Conner. Grimes gets beat by Sean Lee. All three guys to the call fail in their responsibility. Thomas actually does a real nice job of gaining two yards here. He ran with a bit more authority than he did against Georgia Tech.
P40 2-13 BASE – Jimmy Clausen sacked for minus 12 yards.
This sack belongs to Jimmy Clausen. Penn State brought six defenders and the Irish did a great job of picking up the pressure. Jimmy had time in the pocket. George West beat his man off the line on a "Go" route and John Carlson had his man beat on the "Deep In" route. Jimmy has to make this throw. This was another deep route call that Coach Weis made early in the game. It kind of blows the "conservative" accusations out the window. The fact is the call was made, they had Penn State in the right defense, the line picked up the blitz, but Jimmy didn't get rid of the football. This is another missed opportunity for the Irish.
N48 3-25 TREY – Pass complete to Duval Kamara for 6 yards.
P46 4-19 – Punt
Yet another series where mental mistakes cost the Irish a chance at points. It began with Duncan's false start and ended with Clausen not able to hit the open man. The calls are being made but they aren't being executed. On the first two series the Irish have called two plays that were meant to be "home runs". They just weren't executed properly.
ND – 7 PSU – 0
This series should have started at the Penn State 44-yard line. After Travis Thomas committed a very silly personal foul the Irish were backed up to the 29. A 5th year senior captain can't be doing this sort of thing.
N29 1-10 BASE – Run to James Aldridge for minus-3 yards
Again the Irish had the Nittany Lions right where they wanted them. Penn State was blitzing their outside linebackers quite often early in the game. The Irish call a "flip" play with the outside linebacker to the call stunting inside. You can't ask for anything better than that. But Aldridge puts the ball on the ground and the Irish lose three yards. This play could have gone for a very nice gain. Yet another good call by Coach Weis and more poor execution.
N26 2-13 BASE – Pass complete to David Grimes for 6 yards
Nice play by David Grimes to make a guy miss and pick up 6 yards. This is a good decision by Jimmy to throw the "bubble". This puts the Irish in a much more manageable 3rd down situation.
N32 3-7 ACE – Clausen throws the ball away.
Penn State brings another double outside pressure. Both outside linebackers blitz wide and the defensive ends slant in. Sam Young does a very poor job of working out to the linebacker. He and Wenger are to work together here. When the end slants in Young should punch and then work out to the linebacker. Instead he turns his hips in, which makes it impossible for him to get back out to the linebacker. The same thing happens on the other side but this time the defensive end comes free. Clausen does a nice job of avoiding the pressure and getting rid of the ball. The Irish had Carlson in another one-on-one with a safety, and Clausen was looking for him but was forced from the pocket. Another down the field play call where the Irish have what they want. But again the inability to block six defenders with seven blockers prevents the Irish from taking that shot.
N32 4-7 – Punt
Am I sounding line a broken record yet by saying another series of missed opportunities? The Irish had three plays with three huge mistakes. Each call they made had potential for a very good gain but failure to simply execute assignments forces a three-and-out. The Irish didn't need guys to make plays on these calls they just needed them to execute their assignment.
ND – 7 PSU – 7
N20 1-10 ACE – Run by Travis Thomas for 4 yards
The line got a good surge on this first down play. I believe Travis Thomas misses one here. Will Yeatman does a good job hooking the defender after initially slipping. The design of the play I believe is for Yeatman to seal the end but the end went inside and Yeatman sealed him off. Thomas needs to see that and cut right behind Yeatman. Paul Duncan also gets beat on the second level by Sean Lee.
N24 2-6 ACE – Run by Travis Thomas for 5 yards
Penn State brought another double outside pressure and the Irish have the right call for it. Yeatman does a nice job with the "wham" block on the defensive tackle. The line does a really nice job opening up this play and the free safety has to come up and make the play. Thomas might have been able to pop it outside of Sullivan's second level block, but that would have been a phenomenal read. Wenger does a really nice job mauling his guy.
N29 3-1 POWER – Run by Travis Thomas for minus-1 yard
Yeatman does a real nice job hooking the linebacker and setting the edge. D.J. Hord doesn't get a good block on the corner. He needs a better effort there. Schwapp totally misses the free safety that makes the play on Thomas. I have no clue who they called the holding on but it was bogus. I believe it was Yeatman but he flat dominated his guy and pancaked his guy.
N28 4-2 – Punt
Once again a blown assignment prevents the Irish from gaining any momentum. The Irish get two nice runs on first and second down but Schwapp whiffing hurts them here. I realize the phantom holding call would have made it 3rd and 11, but 3rd and 11 would have meant an opportunity to once again try for the first down. A missed block and 4th and 2 means the Irish are punting after another three and out.
ND – 7 PSU – 7
N10 1-10 ACE – Pass complete to David Grimes for 8 yards
Nice call here by Coach Weis. The Irish are able to pick up a nice chunk on first down and get the ball out to the 18 yard line. Jimmy needs to get the ball up a bit but Grimes needs to keep his feet there. A better throw and/or a better job by Grimes and the Irish are likely moving the chains.
N18 2-2 BASE – False start by John Carlson
The false start by Carlson negates the good pickup on first down.
N13 2-7 BASE – Run to Travis Thomas for 0 yards
With Duncan unable to seal the edge, Thomas wanted to cut this back inside. The play-side defensive tackle was untouched and prevented him from doing so. Sullivan and Turkovich also both missed Dan Connor. Penn State then did a nice job of stretching the play. Someone messed up here on the line.
N13 3-7 TREY – Jimmy Clausen sacked for minus-8 yards
Duncan never touches the defensive end that sacks Jimmy as he gets to the top of his drop. Other than that the Irish had this play well protected. I believe Carlson was going to be open in the seam and the Irish had Kamara one-on-one outside. Another downfield play call that was blown up by poor protection.
N5 4-15 – Punt
It's the same story over and over. Mental mistakes and blown assignments prevent this drive from going anywhere. Instead of 2nd and 2 you have 2nd and 7. Duncan not touching his man prevents Jimmy from going through any kind of progression on third down. Not only that but the sack backs the Irish up, and despite a 46-yard punt by Geoffrey Price, the Nittany Lions get the ball at midfield. They go down and score to make it 14-7.
ND – 7 PSU – 14
N17 1-10 ACE – Pass complete to David Grimes for 5 yards
It appears Jimmy made the right decision throwing the "bubble" instead of running the called play, which was a toss into the boundary. There likely would have been one defender unaccounted for on the toss. Grimes does a nice job of getting 5 yards on this play.
N22 2-5 ACE – Run to Armando Allen for 1 yard
Yeatman goes after the wrong guy, which allows the defensive tackle to come up field untouched. Turkovich also whiffs on Connor, who is standing right in the hole. I'd like to see Armando use his speed here and try to outrun the safety to the sideline. He has nothing if he cuts back. His only chance to make anything happen is just to outrun his man outside. Carlson and Duncan do a good job on the edge.
N23 3-4 ACE – Pass to George West incomplete
I have one big issue on this play and that is the personnel on the field. In this down and distance you know you are going to get some kind of pressure/man defense. The Irish are running a "Y stick" play to the trips side and West converts his route to a fade. I feel you need to have a bigger guy on the field in George's spot. In a one-on-one situation with a smaller guy your pass as a quarterback has to be almost perfect unless he simply blows his man away off the line. With a bigger guy, say Kamara or Parris, you don't have to be as fine with your pass. I like the fact Jimmy took the shot here but I'm not sure I wouldn't have rather seen him stick with the "Y stick" read and hit Carlson on the "stick" route.
N23 4-4 – Punt
ND – 7 PSU – 14
N10 1-10 TREY – Clausen sacked for minus-7 yards
This one is one Jimmy. The line did a solid job holding up the four defenders who were coming. Even if nothing was open downfield on the vertical routes you have your checkdown. Jimmy either needs to launch that sucker downfield and outside (perhaps out of bounds) or dump it off. He can't hold the ball here.
N3 2-17 BASE – Run to Travis Thomas for 2 yards
They actually had a little something here but Turkovich whiffs on Dan Connor. Everyone else did a nice job of getting a hat on their man and getting a push.
N5 3-15 TREY – Run to Armando Allen for 1 yard
Ideally Armando would have liked to stay right on this play, but both guards got beat and forced him to bounce it back. At this point the Irish are just trying to run the clock out and get to the half.
N6 4-14 – Punt
ND – 7 PSU – 14
Once again the defense forces a turnover and gives the offense a shot to do something before the half. It would have taken a HUGE play to do something here, but you'd like to see the Irish take a shot rather than take another delay of game and prevent that shot from being taken.
P44 1-10 TREY – Delay of game
This one is on the quarterback.
P49 1-15 TREY – Pass complete to Armando Allen for 7 yards
The Irish had a three-step play called here so it was going to be short no matter where it was thrown. I think they wanted to get an extra 7-10 easy yards and give them a much more doable "hail mary" situation.
P42 2-8 TREY – Jimmy Clausen rushes for 10 yards
Four defenders come and the Irish aren't able to keep them at bay. John Sullivan just whiffed on his guy forcing Jimmy to scramble.
END OF THE FIRST HALF
ND – 7 PSU – 17
N34 1-10 ACE – Pass complete to Armando Allen for 1 yard
This was another designed swing pass to Armando. Wenger is unable to make his block on the perimeter, which prevents anything from getting going here. Not a bad design but not executed very well up front.
N33 2-11 TREY – Pass incomplete to John Carlson
This was a good blitz by Penn State. The Irish had no one to account for the blitzer off the edge. This also prevented Jimmy from going through a read on the play. Had he been able to do that David Grimes likely would have been the target. He had to throw quick to Carlson. I can't tell from the film whether Carlson dropped the pass or it was knocked away. It was a good pass that hit him right in the gut but he wasn't able to hang on either way.
N33 3-11 ??? – Pass complete to Will Yeatman for 6 yards
The question marks on the personnel grouping are due to the fact I have no name for this set. The Irish have two tight ends, three receivers, and no backs on the field. The line does a very good job of protecting the quarterback and Jimmy does a nice job dumping the ball off. The reason this play doesn't work I believe is on David Grimes. Penn State was playing off and the Irish had their vertical package called. In this situation Grimes should have broken his route off back to the sideline. Jimmy was looking for him but Grimes didn't break it off. This forced him to dump the pass off. The linebacker over the slot receiver never buzzed underneath the out and the play would have been there.
N39 4-5 – Punt
ND – 7 PSU – 17
Tom Zbikowski made a great return to get the Irish their best starting position of the day. His 46-yard return allowed the Irish offense to start at the Penn State 7 yard line.
P7 1-G ACE – Incomplete pass to David Grimes
This is the bread and butter red zone pass for the Irish offense. The Nittany Lions know that too and had the play sniffed out. Nice job by Clausen to simply throw it away. The line did a very good job protecting Clausen.
P7 2-G BASE – Run to Armando Allen for 2 yards
Turkovich didn't finish his block on Sean Lee who made the tackle. Schwapp didn't get a very good blocker on Dan Conner, either. A better block by Turkovich allows Armando to be in a one-on-one situation inside the 5 with the free safety. At the very least they get the ball well inside the 5 yard line.
P5 3-G ACE – Incomplete pass to Robby Parris
I'll be honest this is one of the few play calls up to this point I strongly disagreed with. The Irish ran a sprint out play from the 5-yard line into the boundary. On third-and-goal from the 5 you have to think Penn State will be in cover mode, especially knowing how much Coach Weis likes to throw in the red zone. Clausen is forced to throw the ball away. I don't disagree with the actual call, but I feel it should have been run to the field. Yeatman does a nice job of setting the edge.
P5 4-G – Field goal by Brandon Walker is GOOD
The Irish were unable to capitalize on tremendous field position. A field goal got points on the board but I believe Penn State was able to gain momentum back by stopping the Irish from reaching the end zone. A touchdown would have really swung the momentum in the Irish favor.
ND – 10 PSU – 24
N25 1-10 TREY – Run to Armando Allen for 0 yards This play is actually blocked up pretty well. Armando simply misses the cut back on this play. This should have been a positive play, perhaps at least a 5 yard gain.
N25 2-10 BASE – Incomplete pass to David Grimes
The offensive line does a nice job of setting the edge and protecting this sprint out play. David Grimes needs to have better sideline awareness. His footwork trying to stay in bounds was poor. Jimmy also needs to come back to Grimes quicker. He stays with West's deep route too long, which was well covered.
N25 3-10 TREY – Delay of game
This is something Jimmy will have to learn. The Irish broke the huddle with :14 seconds left on the play clock. He knows they have a motion called in that play. He needs to be shouting out to the offense to hustle up to the line of scrimmage to get set. There is no sense of urgency among anyone on the offense at this time and it costs them 5 yards.
N20 3-15 TREY – False start on Sam Young
The Irish actually caught a break here by having Sam Young jump early. It's poor by Young to jump but the penalty allowed the Irish to punt from better field position. Both Duncan and Turkovich got beat right off the ball and Jimmy was forced to scramble before he was even able to finish his drop. Penn State only brought four defenders on this play.
N15 3-20 ??? – Jimmy Clausen runs for 3 yards
Down 24-10 late in the third quarter, on a third-and-20 play, and with the play call being your vertical package I'd like to see Jimmy take a shot here. Once again I have to take issue with the personnel on the field. Its 3rd and 20 and you call your vertical package. Chances are your only opportunity here is with a jump ball or one of the seams to come free. The problem is with the outside go routes you have your two smallest receivers in the game. You've got Robby Parris in the slot and Duval Kamara on the bench. I just don't get this.
N18 4-18 – Punt – Roughing the kicker
The Irish catch a break here with the roughing call but as we know they don't take advantage.
N33 1-10 BASE – Holding
Jimmy does a great job of standing in the pocket and letting rip with a very nice throw. Golden Tate does an even better job of beating his man and making a great catch for what should have been a 42-yard completion. It was all for nothing as Sam Young was called for holding. What is even more disappointing is that Young was beat because he gave a poor effort. I know the technique he showed is not what John Latina teaches his linemen. That's disappointing coming from a player with the size and talent of Sam Young. He must play better. The rest of the line and blockers did a nice job of giving Jimmy time to throw.
N23 1-20 TREY – Pass complete to John Carlson for 5 yards
Finally the Irish call the vertical play with Duval and Robby in the game. They also get in a situation where they are getting one-on-one outside. Wenger gets beat soundly by his man and forces Jimmy to scramble. Duncan also is ineffective in his attempt to cut the rushing end. Jimmy dumps the ball off to Carlson for a 5 yard pickup.
N28 2-15 ??? – Jimmy Clausen sacked for minus-11 yards
Once again the Irish call for a downfield throw and once again Jimmy isn't able to get the pass off. Wenger is unable to get off his combo and pickup the stunting linebacker who makes the sack. This play didn't have a chance.
N17 3-26 TREY – Run to Armando Allen for 3 yards
Dan Wenger and John Carlson are ineffective in their attempts to block the draw play. The Irish were simply attempting to pop a draw for a big play. Worst case scenario you get a decent gain to give yourself more room to punt the ball. They were unable to do either.
N20 4-23 – Punt
ND – 10 PSU – 24
END OF 3rd QUARTER
N14 1-10 ACE – Run to Armando Allen for 1 yard
Two things go wrong on this play. I'm not sure which blocking issue was the mistake. Either Will Yeatman failed to seal the edge, or Sullivan got beat by the defensive tackle. I believe that the latter was the case. It appears the Irish wanted to block down with the right side of the line and have Yeatman kick out the end if he came upfield. I believe the play is designed to be run behind the block of Sullivan and Wenger and inside the kick out of Yeatman. The line got a good surge everywhere except with Sullivan. I also think Armando missed his read. With the initial hole plugged up by the tackle I believe he should have cut it back inside.
N15 2-9 ACE – Incomplete pass to David Grimes
It's hard to tell if anything is open. I won't begin to guess what the route combination was or if Jimmy missed a read here.
N15 3-9 BASE – Incomplete pass to David Grimes
This was a very poor decision by Jimmy. The Nittany Lions do a good job of re-routing John Carlson and there isn't anywhere for Jimmy to go with the football. Sam Young also gets beat off the line of scrimmage by Sean Lee, who put the hit on Clausen. This is one of the few poor throws by Clausen on the day.
N15 4-9 – Punt
ND – 10 PSU – 31
N25 1-10 TREY – Pass complete to George West for 4 yards
The cut blocks up front were better here and overall on the day, but still have MUCH room for improvement. Nice throw and catch.
N29 2-6 TREY – Incomplete pass to John Carlson
Clausen makes the wrong read, makes a bad throw, and almost gets intercepted. Grimes had much better leverage on his defender and that is where Jimmy should have gone with the throw.
N29 3-6 TREY – Pass complete to Robby Parris for 35 yards
John Carlson needs to do a better job of riding the defender wider and staying engaged. The rest of the line is solid and allows Clausen to step up and out of the pocket. Robby Parris makes and outstanding catch and run on this play. He really is going to be a fine player at Notre Dame. He did a great job of working to an opening and giving Jimmy someone to throw too.
P36 1-10 TREY – Pass complete to David Grimes for 14 yards
I think he could have stayed in the pocket on this play but wasn't necessarily wrong for getting out of it. The line does a nice job protecting the four defenders who come. Nice throw and catch on this play to keep the chains moving.
P22 1-10 TREY – Defensive pass interference
This wasn't a great route by Robby Parris. He went a little too wide of the defender after making an ineffective initial in move. He needs to sell the inside move much better, and do a better job of fighting through the defender and getting on top. Jimmy needs to see that the receiver didn't get his man beat and throw the ball a little bit more outside and up, allowing him to make a jump for the ball.
P7 1-G TREY – Jimmy Clausen sacked for minus-3 yards
Penn State does a nice job here defensively. They showed pressure but dropped every body off and left Clausen with no where to go with the ball. He shows very good pocket presence and mobility stepping up and out of the pocket and avoiding the rush.
P10 2-G ACE – Pass incomplete to Duval Kamara
You've got the matchup you want here with Duval in a one-on-one with the cornerback. Kamara doesn't run a great route off the line but at 6-5 and 222 pounds, Jimmy needs to throw a better pass here and give him a chance. You'd also like to see Kamara go up stronger for the football. Jimmy put too much air on the fade route and floated it outside. Not a great job by either freshman.
P10 3-G TREY – Pass incomplete to Duval Kamara
The line does a good job of protecting here. Duval runs a good route and Jimmy throws a decent pass but Duval is unable to come down with it. I believe the Irish need to put him on the field more and give him more opportunities. He shows some really good ability and presents opponents with a size/speed mismatch no other Irish receiver presents. The ball was about 3 inches behind where it should have been but was still a catchable pass.
P10 4-G TREY – Pass intercepted by Justin King
Duncan gets beat quickly off the edge. Clausen does a nice job of stepping up in the pocket and getting rid of the football but his pass is about an inch two high for Robby Parris.
This is the final series I reviewed.
I read after the game how the Coach Weis needs to "open things up" and to "take the handcuffs off". I would like to see some changes to the play calling and schemes, but I don't believe that Coach Weis was overly conservative in his play calling against Penn State. If you go through this review you'll see a great number of play calls where the design was to get the ball deep. Either the quarterback didn't make the throw to the open receiver, the line was unable to protect the quarterback, and they had a 42 yard pass completion nullified by a holding penalty.
Once again as I went through the film I saw several opportunities in the pass game and run game wasted by a lack of execution. For the most part they are mistakes that I will be able to grit my teeth, bear, and know they are part of the growing pains of a young football team. There are other mistakes, however, that are inexcusable and I believe I made that clear during the review. As the players begin to execute what is called we will see a much more effective and productive offensive football team.
The one area that was mentioned that I do agree with is the Irish inability to throw the football over the middle of the field. Almost everything they throw and are designing right now is outside. With the shorter receivers in the game I'm surprised the Irish aren't running more crossing routes, middle of the field "high-low" packages, and an occasional inside receiver screen. Perhaps this isn't part of Coach Weis' offense, although I seriously doubt it. I remember this being a part of what he did with the Patriots and remember some of this stuff being ran in 2005.
There is one area where I believe Coach Weis needs to adapt in my opinion. In the NFL it's all about your scheme. No matter how good your players are you can't really isolate players a great deal and allow them to go one-on-one. You can't screen with your receivers in the NFL like you can in college. I understand that with Coach's schemes the idea is to take what the defense gives and they don't often run plays designed to look for one player. It's all about the system and the read. But at times, especially times like these, he needs to do more things to isolate his receivers. He did it with Armando Allen but it has to go further. I would like to see more of what I mentioned earlier and see Coach Weis do more to ensure that guys like John Carlson, Duval Kamara, and Golden Tate are touching the football.
I was very encouraged by what I saw of Jimmy Clausen on Saturday. Did he miss some reads? Of course. Did he hold on the football a couple of times? Absolutely. But there was much to like about his performance on Saturday. The most important thing was his poise. Outside of LSU there isn't a tougher, noisier, or hostile crowd than the one he dealt with on Saturday against Penn State. Despite the struggles of the offense you never saw him get rattled. He continued to battle and hung in there. Many people (that's you Tom Luginbill) questioned how he would respond to getting hit. I believe Jimmy Clausen answered those questions loud and clear against Penn State. He got hit often and kept firing away. He'll need to continue to grow as a player. He needs to learn what open means at this level. But he showed great ability and poise against Penn State. One area he needs to develop is to not always be so fine. Guys like Jimmy, who are so accurate, who don't make a lot of mistakes, often times don't take certain shots that they should. Despite that Jimmy Clausen is special. The Irish have a future star.
The pass protection improved since the Georgia Tech game. There still are too many missed reads going on with the tailbacks. Asaph Schwapp still is missing too many blocks from the fullback position. I would still like to see the two young guys (Aldridge and Allen) get more touches. I believe they are the horses, along with Robert Hughes, to really get this running game going.
I am concerned by the technique used by David Grimes. He isn't good enough or fast enough to have such poor technique at the line of scrimmage. The younger guys show better technique off the line than does David. He wastes too much time and movement getting himself into running position. Coach Ianello says he emphasizes this every day. Well he needs to make sure his junior leader of this unit plays like Ianello preaches. Robby Parris and George West aren't as bad but still leave much to be desired. This unit is solid but isn't talented enough to play with poor technique. Every step counts and this group isn't maximizing their abilities with their technique. They need to do a better job of getting open. Right now Duval Kamara gets off the ball and downfield better than any other wide receiver. I'd like to see Kamara, Parris, and Tate in the game more in the base offenses.
The tight ends improved in their blocking since the Georgia Tech game. There were a couple of misses but for the most part this unit did quite well in the run game. John Carlson has gotten open more than any other receiver on this team but they have been unable to get him the football. The Irish must do a better job here. Whether it be protection breakdowns or the quarterback unable to pull the trigger, they aren't getting their best player the ball enough. I believe Coach Weis needs to do a bit more to get John involved early in the game.
There are certain mistakes that you can live with as a coach. I can live with the mistakes Dan Wenger and Michael Turkovich are making right now. They are making rookie mistakes, but they make them going hard. As they gain more experience you hope you'll see those mistakes decrease. The mental mistakes, the poor technique being used by some, and the inconsistency of the tackles isn't something coaches can live with. I don't know if putting in one of the freshman (Dever or Romine) is the answer but something needs to be done. I don't believe the Irish are using too many or too complex blocking schemes. I do believe, however, that the inconsistency up front is hurting this football team. This unit has to get better, and get better fast.