The Eye in the Sky

IrishEyes breaks down the Irish offense, drive by drive, in Saturday's win vs. the Huskies.

Below is the part one of IrishEyes game-tape review of the ND offense's effort vs. the Huskies. The second half will be published later today.

First Notre Dame Drive:

Breakdown: The Irish took possession trailing 7-0 and embarked on a 7 play, 49 yard drive (2:59 time of possession) that ended in a 34-yard field goal by freshman place-kicker Nicholas Tausch. The Irish featured multiple two tight-end sets, as well as 3-wide receivers, the offset-I formation with Bobby Burger as the fullback and one Wildcat personnel grouping. Washington 7 Notre Dame 3

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Left tackle Paul Duncan's hesitation in space likely cost wide receiver Golden Tate a free sideline sprint for a 65-yard touchdown on the drive's first play end-around…Right tackle Sam Young, tight end Mike Ragone, and right guard Trevor Robinson do an excellent job of blocking at the point to spring half back Armando Allen for a 5-yard toss off the right side. Center Eric Olsen pulled successfully as well…Robinson collapsed his man while Olsen shot out to cover the linebacker on a 21-yard draw to Allen the following play…Ragone (and WR Duval Kamara) both miss blocks on a loss of six yards by Allen from the Wildcat formation. Ragone is also called for holding on the play.

'Backs and Receivers: Tate showed speed but not the necessary patience (or cutback) that might have turned his 31-yard end around into a longer gain or touchdown. Wide receiver Robby Parris threw a nice downfield block on the play…fullback/tight end Bobby Burger destroys the Huskies MLB on Allen's 21-yard burst up the gut. Both Kyle Rudolph and Parris executed one-on-one blocks as well…Freshman Shaquelle Evans might have cut the wrong way after a quick tunnel screen (Parris threw a solid, neutralizing block). Evans fumbled by was ruled down… Rudolph, split wide, trips at the goal line on the "Michael Floyd Fade" but the Huskies' defender can't secure the easy interception in bounds.

Second Drive/1st and 2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: A10-play, 58 yard drive (5:27 time of possession) that finshes with another FG (40 yards) from Tausch. The Irish again featured three 2 TE sets along with three offset-I formations, two Wildcat looks, and one 3-WR formation which turned into an empty backfield by the snap. Washington 7 Notre Dame 6

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Burger executes his block but no one covers LB Donald Butler who drops Allen in the hole for a loss of one yard…Allen for 8 yards the result of tremendous blocks by a pulling Robinson and Ragone at the point of attack on another toss right. Young, Rudolph, and Parris all neutralize defenders on the run as well…Both Rudolph and Robinson are stood up on the right edge on the following Wildcat play (one-yard gain)…the right side (Robinson, Young, and Rudolph) are stood up by four UW defenders and Burger's lead block is stalemated as Hughes fails to gain on a 3rd and 1 conversion attempt (results in a field goal).

'Backs and Receivers: A gimpy Jimmy Clausen had no chance vs. untouched linebacker Cort Dennison on what was an otherwise well-executed double-reverse (from the Wildcat formation). Clausen was looking deep for (an open) Robby Parris on the play before Clausen suffered a clumsy sack…Parris answered with a 26-yard square-in after a Clausen scramble and semi-roll to his right for the Irish first down. Parris did a nice job after the catch to gain additional yardage…The first of several plays that began with Tate as the motion "fullback" in the Irish backfield results in a sideline hitch for four yards and a personal foul on the Huskies unable to bring Tate down out of bounds for 15 more…Nice escape by Clausen and late block by a recovering Allen to turn a sure sack into a three-yard gain…Clausen returns the favor, hitting Allen on a 13-yard comeback from an empty backfield for the 1st Down…Allen continues to run hard on toss plays but is bottled up for a one-yard gain from the Wildcat formation…Hughes runs meekly into the line on 3rd and 1 (zero push up front) and the Irish settle for another field goal. It was easy to write that sentence knowing how well Hughes played in the second half.

Second Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: Trailing 7-6, the Irish drive 72 yards in 10 plays but manage only a field goal for a 9-7 advantage over the Huskies. The drive featured four off-set I formations; four 3-WR sets and one 2-TE look.

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Young and Robinson dominate at the point, Rudolph stands up his defender, and lead fullback Bobby Burger destroys drills the linebacker to spring Hughes for a powerful 14-yard carry. Hughes is a different player on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage…Young and Olsen kick out to block the same linebacker and the uncovered defender eventually stops a spinning Hughes for two yards… Allen gets nothing on the right despite a great block by Young as the rest of the Huskies' defense strings out the play. Left Guard Chris Stewart just missed a nice pull block but UW had the play diagnosed…Duncan is beaten around the left edge (one-on-one) and forced to hold, negating a Clausen-to-Rudolph TD pass. In fairness to Duncan, the play-action was slow to develop.

'Backs and Receivers: Rudolph runs a shallow cross (behind the linebackers) but adjusts and runs in front of Huskies zone CB Desmond Trufant to catch a sideline pass for five yards on first down… Hughes spins out of trouble but an unblocked LB stops him for a two-yard gain…Tate runs a patient, settling post route from the slot vs. the Huskies zone for an easy 14 yards from Clausen who had all day…Rudolph runs directly down the right seam (from a three-point stance on the line) for 30 yards including about 10 after the catch due to a nifty cut inside. I agree with game announcer Pat Haden (failing to jam Rudolph off the line is ridiculous)…Rudolph is jammed this time, then held for 10 yards down the left seam (no call) to the corner for a touchdown but the play is called back due to (an accurate) holding call on Duncan…Clausen hits Tate for a stop-route and 14 yards (9 after the catch)…Trufant rushes Clausen into a 2nd and 6 throw-away and then helps defend Rudolph on 3rd down in the corner, forcing a third Irish field goal…Clausen missed a wide open Tate standing in front of him for the first down.

Third Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: The Irish go backward, on a 3-play, minus 10-yard drive as Clausen's poorly thrown swing pass to Allen results in a live-ball lateral (fumble) and a gift-wrapped TD for the Huskies. Washington 14 Notre Dame 9

Offensive Line: Backup LG Dan Wenger is deked by Trufant while trying to execute a block in space (screen to the left) and the unheralded Huskies CB makes yet another big play, dropping Allen for a loss of two yards. Matt Romine enters at right tackle and appeared to hold (no call). Paul Duncan blocked the play perfectly to give Clausen time, but Trufant destroyed the play...Duncan fails to execute a cut block and LB Mason Foster is able to stay with Allen on the half back's swing pass route out of the backfield, resulting in the lateral/defensive touchdown by, who else, Desmond Trufant. Additionally, Wenger gets air on a chip block and the Huskies DT pressured Clausen into the (terrible) decision.

'Backs and Receivers: A 2nd and 12 toss to Allen is again well-played but the Irish junior shows speed to gain five yards…Just a poor decision and uncharacteristically careless throw by Clausen on the lateral/Defensive TD.

Fourth Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: Trailing 14-9 after the defensive touchdown, the Irish travel 78 yards in three plays with the end result, a Clausen-to-Tate catch-and-run for a 67-yard touchdown. The three-play drive featured three 3-WR sets. ND 16 UW 14

Offensive Line: Duncan and Wenger solid while Robinson, Olsen and (especially) Young are dominant on the 67-yard touchdown from Clausen to Tate. Young caved in his pass rusher which allowed Clausen free reign on his scramble to the right and an easy passing window to a crossing Tate.

'Backs and Receivers: Clausen's show nice touch on a arrow route (right) to Allen from the backfield for a 9-yard gain…delayed draw to Allen on 2nd and 1 results in two yards and 1st Down thanks to solid blocks from Olsen and Wenger at the point…Clausen buys time with a pirouette in the pocket (generally a bad idea, but no defender was providing direct pressure) and hits Tate who does the rest with a signature 67-yard touchdown catch and run for the Irish lead. Tremendous job by Tate to come across and help out his quarterback and a fantastic blitz pickup by Allen to spring Clausen from the pocket.

Fifth Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: A two-play, 13-yard drive ends with a dropped pass by Allen and subsequent easy interception by LB Donald Butler. ND 16 UW 14

Offensive Line: Great protection up front on Allen's dropped pass/INT.

'Backs and Receivers: Nice catch and quick shake by Evans for 13 yards (four after the catch) for a 1st Down on the drive's first play…Bad drop by Allen that results in a pick.

Sixth Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: The Irish get the ball back after a sack by Ethan Johnson and fumble recovery by John Ryan. ND's four-play, minus four-yard drive ends in Ben Turk's first career punt (39 yards and a fair catch). The Huskies drive 53 yards in 5 plays (0:51 seconds) for the go-ahead 40-yard field goal to end the half. UW 17 ND 16

Offensive Line: Duncan slow feet on an LB blitz but a healthy Clausen (who eluded the defender anyway) would not have fallen so easily…the Huskies get to Clausen vs. max protect (5 OL, Rudolph, Allen) with four rushers to force a throw-away (looked like 2007). Clausen threw a stiff-arm to avoid the sack.

'Backs and Receivers: Clausen begins with an 11-yard comeback to Tate solo right (Tate poses over the defender after being swung out of bounds…that's twice as bad of a taunt as was Allen's "shhh" that drew the back-breaking penalty in Ann Arbor. A taunting call awaits Tate in the future.)…Clausen ends the drive with a fall; throw-away (sure sack) and slip in the pocket forcing a Turk punt.

Halftime Score: Washington 17 ND 16

Personal Groupings (Includes Penalties and Irish sets prior to time-outs):

  • Three-Wide Receiver Sets: 17
  • Two-Tight End Sets: 7
  • Off-Set I-Formation (Bobby Burger as FB): 8
  • Wild-Cat (Armando Allen as "QB"): 3


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