The Eye in the Sky - 2nd Half

Part II of our breakdown of the ND offensive performance vs. Washington

Below is the second half of our full game-tape review of the Irish offense vs. the Huskies. For a breakdown of the first half, click here.

First Drive/2nd Half:

Breakdown: ND gained 77 yards on the first play of the 2nd Half: a catch-and-run (59 yards after the catch) from Clausen to Tate, but the Irish lost a yard over their next three plays and settled for Tausch's go-ahead, 21-yard field goal and a 19-17 lead. Washington CB Desmond Trufant saved the Huskies four points with a hustling shove of Tate inside the 5-yard line.

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Though the Irish executed their assigned blocks, an untouched Cort Dennison (LB) forced Allen to cutback on first down for no gain (the play illustrates how defenses can play "plus-one" vs. an offense that's not in the Wildcat formation… The Irish lined up in the offset-I with Burger, Ragone, and Rudolph and the three tight ends flooded the right side but Clausen was forced to throw it into the seats. No confidence in the power game with this predictable 2nd and Goal play-action pass at the Washington 2-yard line…the Irish are outnumbered again on 3rd and goal as an uncovered Dennison makes another stop (Burger, the lead blocker, neutralized one of two Huskies LB and Dennison cleaned up unabated into the backfield.

'Backs and Receivers: Tate is, once again, dynamic with the ball in his hands, gaining 59 yards after the catch to begin the second half.

Second Drive/2nd Half:

Breakdown: After a Huskies touchdown drive, the Irish punt for the second and final time after a 5-play, 25-yard drive (3:32) that ends in a 3rd and 5 sack of Clausen at the Washington 36-yard line. Washington 24 ND 19

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Solid protection allows Clausen to shift to his right and hit his middle safety valve, Rudolph, for six yards on first down…Burger is guilty of a false start (one play after getting leveled by Aiyewa as described below) and ND's 3rd and 1 becomes 3rd and 6…Clausen is sacked for a four-yard loss when he slips in the pocket with decent protection (Clausen did need to step up, but there was a certain throwing lane.

'Backs and Receivers: Tate bobbles a simple-in route, recovers to catch the pigskin dangling in the air and gains 18 yards (12 after the catch) on the play… Clausen steps up for six free yards on a middle scramble…Allen breaks a backfield arm tackle to gain three yards on 2nd and 4. Offset-I fullback Bobby Burger is absolutely crushed at the end of the play by #41 Victor Aiyewa, who also (according to Weis and ND Sports Information) took out Anthony McDonald (concussion) on the opening kick-off and went after Nick Tausch during the contest. The run marked Allen's final carry Saturday (ankle).

Third Drive/Bisects 3rd and 4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After a four-play goal line stand inside their own 8-yard line denies the Huskies points (on a 10-play drive), the Irish march 93 yards in 9 plays (3:14) but settle for Tausch's fifth and final field goal of the afternoon. UW 24 ND 22

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Behind Burger, Olsen, Robinson, and Young, half back Robert Hughes blows through right B-gap whole for 12 yards to the UW 13-yard line…Hughes fight for three yards behind Olsen, Burger, and Robinson though Robinson's defender spins to take down Hughes from behind…Perfect protection by the 5-man OL on the pass to Hughes that gained 25 yards…Rudolph is beaten badly in one-on-one pass protection, forcing Clausen to scramble right (he hit Evans for a 13-yard gain)…Chris Stewart throws the key pull block from his right guard spot, pulling the the right side to blow open a hole on Hughes' 37-yard carry. Robinson, Young, and Rudolph all win at the point and Olsen picks up a blitzer (through Stewart's vacated gap) perfectly…Tremendous protection on Parris' dropped TD…Duncan the main culprit when Hughes is limited to one-yard on 2nd and goal from the UW 7-yard line. Duncan failed to keep his feet while shielding RDE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (who played well most of the afternoon)…

'Backs and Receivers: Hughes with three big plays on the drive including a beautifully designed 25-yard release out of the backfield (Weis ran Tate, Rudolph, John Goodman, and Parris on go routes to clear the zone) and a 37-yard carry to the Huskies' 7-yard line (described above). The run was the longest by an Irish player since Hughes' 45-yard gain vs. Stanford in the season-finale 2007…Evans shows nice awareness, coming back to help a scrambling Clausen for a 13-yard gain....One play later (Hughes' long run) Evans throws a solid block vs. his outside cornerback. Hughes showed excellent patience, setting up a cut to the right to gain 10 more yards at the end of the run…Clausen's perfectly thrown ball to the backside corner bounces off Parris' facemask incomplete. Parris' ran a "smash-move" (in-then-out) and likely lost concentration as Huskies DB Desmond Trufant made a swing at the ball…Tate is deftly hooked/held on a back end zone square-in (no call) by Trufant, forcing yet another Tausch field goal.

Go-Ahead Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After the defense's epic double-goal line stand limits the Huskies to a field goal and 27-22 advantage Clausen marched the Irish 63 yards in 5 plays (1:44) for the go-ahead touchdown and resulting two-point conversion. ND 30 Washington 27 with 1:44 remaining.

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Good blitz pick-up by Hughes and overall protection on 1st and 10 at the Huskies' 30 but Clausen had to tuck and run for minimal yardage…Good effort to recreate the Bush Push (Sark and Weis have been involved in both) on Hughes' two-point conversion. Weis mentioned the coach's tape (so not our DVR's) in no way shows that Hughes' knee hit the ground before he crossed the goal line).

'Backs and Receivers: Evans made an underrated play, going low to secure a Clausen pass in the rain on 1st and 5 for 8 yards…Excellent step-up by Clausen to find Parris sneaking inside the zone for a 20-yard gain. Parris looked the ball in carefully while hitting the turf…Too soft coverage on Tate who hooks up, beats his defender (Trufant) to the corner by running through an ankle tackle, and gets out of bounds for a gain of 17 yards on 2nd and 9…The Walking Mismatch, Kyle Rudolph, runs the "Floyd Fade" for the go-ahead touchdown. Rudolph twisted his body to make the high catch but mentioned post-game that he actually had lined up to far inside and the pass was exactly where it was supposed to be. Clausen-to-Rudolph in the two-minute drill strikes again. Time to throw the direct-snap to the half back for a two-point play into the trash heap as it's worked perfectly (Stanford '05) and luckily (Saturday). Weis mentioned the blocking schemes and defensive sets differed when asked post-game.

Overtime Drive:

Breakdown: Two plays, 25 yards, and a Robert Hughes one-yard touchdown. The Irish defense held on four downs during Washington's only overtime possession and emerged with a 37-30 Overtime Victory.

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Olsen, Robinson, Young, Rudolph and Burger (lead blocker) all win at the point on Hughes' game-winning touchdown plunge from the one-yard line. Young and Burger collapsed their assigned defenders. Though not their gap, Stewart and Duncan both drove defenders into the end zone as well. Ragone missed initially but got just enough of edge rusher Mason Foster to allow Hughes backfield momentum.

'Backs and Receivers: Tate and Clausen have developed an excellent rapport on scramble plays this season. Weis mentioned Tate is "a Packer fan" due to his insistence on leaping into the air at the tail end of plays…HUGHES would not be denied late in the game.

Final Score: ND 37 UW 30 in Overtime

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

  • Three-Wide Receiver Sets: 29
  • Two-Tight End Sets: 11
  • Off-Set I-Formation (Bobby Burger as FB): 16
  • Wild-Cat (Armando Allen as "QB"): 3
  • Unaccounted: 1

Offensive Game Balls: Clausen, Tate, Hughes, Young (and Tausch). Other than Clausen, each played his best individual game of the season.


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