The Eye in the Sky - Second Half

Part II of our full offensive game tape review examines another too-close-for-comfort ending by the Irish.

Below is the second part of IrishEyes full game-tape review of the Irish offense vs. the Eagles. For a look a breakdown of the first half, click here.

First ND Drive/3rd Quarter:

Breakdown: After surrendering an opening-half touchdown to the Eagles offense, Notre Dame began the first series from its own 37-yard line but were held to 16 yards on 5 plays (3:35 time of possession) to begin the second stanza. The Irish drive ended with a 38-yard punt from the BC 48-yard line. BC 16 ND 13

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: On the drive's third play, halfback Armando Allen gains a yard over the right side on a delayed shotgun draw. LT Paul Duncan shot out to block WLB Luke Kuechly but the BC freshman slipped the block to combine with RDE Alex Albright to make the stop. Albright came in uncovered from the backside (lined up over Duncan). This is either a flawed blocking scheme or Allen took too long hitting a gap over the right side.

'Backs and Receivers: Jimmy Clausen opens the half with a quick out to Golden Tate for a 6-yard gain and follows with a outside hook to the left to junior Duval Kamara (his 6th catch of the day) for a 7-yard gain and Irish first down…two plays later, Clausen again hit Tate for 6 yards on a quick out to the right setting up 3rd and 3 from the BC 43-yard line…Clausen scrambled left against a soft 4-man BC rush and probably could have had a first down had he simply sprinted up the middle…After trying to draw the Eagles off-sides on 4th and 2 the Irish punt and trap the Eagles inside their own 10-yard line.

Second Drive/3rd Quarter:

Breakdown: After forcing a fumble inside their own 5-yard line, ND managed just 5 yards on 3 plays before punting back to the Eagles. BC 16 ND 13

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Eric Olsen misses a kick-out block on 2nd and 5 but Allen's footwork allows the Irish 5 yards on a cutback up the gut. Sam Young and Trevor Robinson each execute a solid block at the point while Chris Stewart shoves an interior defender to the ground (who had a clear shot at Allen's running lane) on the backside.

'Backs and Receivers: Clausen takes his only shot deep of the contest, looking down the right sideline for Tate who almost made a leaping grab despite strong coverage by Donnie Fletcher...Allen makes a nifty inside cut to gain five despite suspect blocking up front by the Irish line…On 3rd and 5 from his own 8-yard line, Clausen is pressured into a throw-away by an inside stunt blitz from SLB Mike Morrissey. It appeared LG Chris Stewart misread the blitz and kicked left to double-team Albright on the right side (Duncan was locked up with Albright) and Allen shifted to his right in pass protection, allowing Morrissey a free run at Clausen. Clausen took a shot to his right shoulder upon landing.

End 3rd Quarter/Beginning 4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After a Kyle McCarthy interception, the Irish drove 56 yards in 11 plays (5:15) but were stopped on 4th and Goal at the BC 1-yard line. BC 16 ND 13

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: On a stretch hand-off to the left (short side), Stewart is too late on a kick-out block vs. Kuechly and the BC frosh forces Allen to cut back inside where MLB Mike McLaughlin makes the initial hit after a 3-yard gain. Tate also failed to execute a cut block on the outside…A false start on Duncan sets up 2nd and 12…Later on 1st and 10 following the BC personal foul (below), slot receiver John Goodman fails to execute an in-line cut block; Kyle Rudolph can't hold his block and Sam Young never gets to his as the BC defense flows left to stop Allen for no gain. Kuechly easily slipped Olsen's block attempt as well… Allen gains 9 yards on 2nd and 10 on a delayed draw up the gut. Stewart (moving right) Olsen (sealing left) and Duncan (another seal outside) all execute their blocks but the play was made by both Young (stoning a hard-charging Kaleb Ramsey) and Trevor Robinson, who shot out in space to take on McLaughlin in the middle…Clausen follows an uncovered Eric Olsen for a 3-yard sneak and 1st Down on 3rd and 1.

'Backs and Receivers: On 2nd and 12, Clausen hits Kamara for a gain of 11 yards on a quick hitch to the outside right. Kamara gained six yards after first contact. BC rushed just two (both DE) on the play…Allen gains 5 yards up the middle on a shotgun draw on 3rd and 1 for an Irish first down to end the 3rd period. Both Duncan and Olsen dominated at the point on the play while Stewart executed his block in space perfectly. Robinson misses his on Kuechly five yards down field and the instinctive freshman ‘back makes the stop…Clausen hits Tate for a 6-yard out to begin the quarter and Tate's refusal to go down helps draw a late-hit penalty on MLB Mike McLaughlin…Clausen's 1st and Goal fade from the 10-yard line to Tate sails out of bounds but CB Donnie Fletcher had perfect coverage… Clausen hit Tate on a bubble for 6 yards on 2nd and G. Had Tate continued outside he might have scored as Goodman threw a stalemate seal block for his teammate. Tate's inside cut drew three tacklers (including Goodman's CB assignment) for the stop…Clausen is unable to find a target and scrambles for 3 yards to the right sideline and pylon. Tate threw a nothing block on the play or Clausen might have scored.

4th and Goal from BC 1-yard line: Following an Irish timeout and subsequent BC stoppage after viewing ND's alignment, the Irish changed formations (from 6 OL including junior Matt Romine and 3 TE with Bobby Burger offset in the backfield in front of Robert Hughes) to the Wildcat with Hughes as the QB and freshman Theo Riddick as the runner in motion. Hughes faked the handoff to Riddick and barreled into the right B-Gap (between guard and tackle) where he was met (and knocked woozy) by Eagles SS Marcellus Bowman. It appeared Chris Stewart could have sealed Bowman on his kick-out but instead shot through to the right to hit an already-blocked McLaughlin. (Note: Another plausible scenario for the failure on the play involves a blocking error by Burger kicking out backside, which appeared unnecessary to the play. He could have been assigned to lead Hughes through that hole. Ultimately it might have just been an excellent read by Bowman to leave one gap and drill Hughes for the stop).

3rd Quarter Observations:

  • BC freshman weak side ‘backer Luke Kuechly sheds and slips blocks as well as any young defender in the nation.
  • An occasional series off for Paul Duncan might help the big man as a pass blocker. Junior Matt Romine could help the Irish in this role as Duncan has excelled in the running game but struggled for nearly a month now in pass protection.
  • BC's 4th Down stop of Hughes was a microcosm of the six-game dominance the Eagles previously held over the Irish. A physical play was there to be made and BC made it.

2nd Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After holding the Eagles to 3-and-out in the shadow of their goal line, the Irish took just three plays to travel 49 yards for the score and final margin. ND 20 BC 16

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: With Olsen and Robinson holding the point; Young and Duncan sealing outside; and Chris Stewart finding McLaughlin in space, Allen used his vision to patiently find the gaping hole over the left B-Gap for a 9-yard gain. Rudolph could not secure Kuechly downfield as the WLB made yet another stop/initial hit…Allen followed Robinson and Young blocks over the right side for a 4-yard gain on 2nd and 1. Rudolph lost Kuechly again though FS Wes Davis made the play filling Allen's running lane. Rudolph was by no means the only Irish blocker to struggle vs. Kuechly on Saturday.

'Backs and Receivers: With a new set of downs at the BC 36-yard line, Clausen rifled an out-route to Tate who slipped a sideline tackle and sprinted down the left sideline before cutting inside to easily evade Davis for the Irish touchdown. Davis had zero chance at stopping Tate in space had the two simply been playing flag football.

3rd Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: Three plays, 6 yards, and just 56 seconds burned by the Irish who forced a BC punt on the previous possession (also a three-and-out) series. ND 20 BC 16

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: Duncan and Stewart win at the point but Rudolph was too slow vs. the run blitz of Kuechly, forcing Allen farther to his left as CB Roderick Rollins goes under Duval Kamara's block to submarine tackle Allen for no gain. Great defense by two BC Eagles on the play.

'Backs and Receivers: Jonas Gray gains 6 yards over the short (left) side on 2nd and 10 from the ND 33-yard line. It was Gray's first appearance from scrimmage since the Week Four win at Purdue. Duval Kamara absolutely lit up Davis on a crack back to give Gray room and Rudolph found and shoved Kuechly out of the play, 10 yards downfield…Clausen misses Rudolph low over the middle though Rudolph ran a lazy route for 3rd and 4.

4th Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: Following another Kyle McCarthy interception, the Irish gain just 2 yards on 3 snaps (1:01) before punting back to the Eagles who took possession at their own 32-yard line with a chance to win (3:22 remaining). ND 20 BC 16

Offensive Line and Key Blockers: On 2nd and 13, Allen gains 5 yards behind quality blocks from Young, Robinson and Rudolph at the point. Rudolph secured Kuechly (who technically combined with Davis on the tackle).

'Backs and Receivers: Allen loses three on a toss right as Burger whiffs on Kuechly in space and a run blitz by Wes Davis destroy the play. If Tate was assigned to Davis (50/50 Davis or the CB in front of him) he was about 2 full seconds late on his block. Kuechly is an incredibly instinctive freshman linebacker. It's worth noting I've never seen Burger miss so badly as he did on Kuechly on this play…Clausen misses Rudolph (who lined up in the right slot) on a 3rd down hook route and narrowly escaped a game-changing, diving interception by Kuechly (correctly overturned by replay) as the Irish punt.

Of interest is that both Tate and Rudolph blatantly pushed off on their hook routes from the slot.

ND held BC thanks to a Brian Smith interception, which will be detailed in tomorrow's defensive film review. Three Clausen kneel downs officially ended the Eagles six-game winning streak over the Irish.

Notre Dame 20 Boston College 16

Two Key Thoughts:

  • Golden Tate, quite simply, is a special offensive talent.
  • BC's Luke Kuechly played as well as any linebacker Notre Dame has faced in its first seven contests.

Final Score: ND 20 BC 16

2nd Half Personal Groupings (Includes penalties and Irish sets prior to time-outs):

  • Three-Wide Receiver Sets: 22
  • Two-Tight End Sets:2
  • Power I-Formation (Bobby Burger as FB): 1
  • Wildcat (Robert Hughes as "QB"): 1

Offensive Game Balls: Clausen and Tate. Allen (running hard between the tackles) and Kamara for bouncing back from last week's final play vs. the Trojans. Top Stories