The Eye in the Sky: 2nd Quarter

Part II of today's offensive film review examines the Irish 2nd Quarter effort and a 30-7 halftime advantage.

Below is our play-by-play review of the Irish offense in the 2nd Quarter Saturday night in San Antonio. Click here for a review of Notre Dame's offensive performance in the 1st Quarter vs. the Cougars.

First Notre Dame Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: Beginning at its own 29-yard line, ND drove 71 yards in 8 plays (4:01) with a drive ending in a 16-yard TD run by Tate. ND 16 WSU 0

  • (2-TE): Freshman Theo Riddick begins the drive at half back for the Irish. A toss-right to Riddick gains six yards behind right tackle Sam Young and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Backup right guard Dan Wenger also holds up well at the point and center Eric Olsen expertly kicks out to block Cougars productive MIKE LB Andy Mattingly. Rudolph eventually loses his block as Riddick as strung out a bit too far wide as WR Duval Kamara, for the first time in the contest, loses his block at the last second and Riddick jumps Kamara's assigned defender (rather than cutting back for what looked like a substantial gain.
  • (2-TE): Riddick takes another toss right, cuts inside Young's seal block and follows offset tight end Mike Ragone, who absolutely stones his defender at the point of attack to allow Riddick a rushing lane. Tight end Kyle Rudolph executes a down block to seal the inside. Riddick gains 14 before being taken down by LB Mike Ledgerwood (who evaded Olsen's second block).
  • (2-TE): Riddick gains one-yard inside as DT Tony Turpin overwhelms Olsen at the point to drop Riddick. Cougars MIKE LB Mike Ledgerwood evaded Wenger's cut block attempt in space.
  • (Offset-I with James Aldridge as staggered fullback): Following play-action, Jimmy Clausen finds Robert Hughes over the middle on a check-down pass for 11 yards.
  • (2-TE but both split wide): The Irish show an empty backfield with Ragone, Rudolph, and Riddick lined up as receivers with Kamara and Golden Tate. Clausen's deep sideline stop to Riddick sails out of bounds (bad miscommunication on the play as Riddick ran the wrong route).
  • 2-TE with Ragone split wide): After play-action, Clausen rolls right and hits Kamara sitting in the zone on the left sideline for a 17-yard gain and Irish first down.
  • (Power-I with Aldridge as the lead fullback): On 1st and 10 at the WSU 20-yard line, Hughes takes a handoff over left tackle (receiving a nice backfield seal block from Paul Duncan) and follows Aldridge's effective double-team block (with Rudolph) on SLB Andy Mattingly for a four yard gain. Slot-receiver Duval Kamara also executed a strong crack-back block in space. Backside blitzer Xavier Hicks made a tackle from behind (and downfield). An impressive hustle play by Hicks who came off right tackle to stop Hughes four yards downfield on the left side.
  • (Wildcat with Golden Tate as QB): Tate fakes a hand-off to a motioning Riddick and after drawing initial contact, (Ledgerwood evaded Wenger's pull attempt and Mattingly pursued from the backside), Tate spun at the 15-yard line, lost both tacklers, and sprinted down the left sideline for an Irish score. Duval Kamara handled Xavier Hicks to allow Tate a clear lane for the touchdown. Another incredible run by Golden Tate.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Hughes spelled Riddick for two plays at half back.

Second Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: After forcing another Cougars punt, the Irish drove 80 yards in 8 plays (4:02) to take a commanding lead on a Hughes TD plunge. ND 23 WSU 0

  • (Power-I with Aldridge as the lead fullback): Clausen shows play-action to Hughes then after going through his progressions, checks down back to Hughes for a 16-yard gain to the right side. Hughes added a nice cutback inside and finish to the run for the final 9 yards on the reception.
  • (2-TE): Clausen hits an uncovered (nice plan) Tate in the left slot ("Bubble" pass) for a 21-yard gain down the left side. Ragone, split wide, controlled his defender on the left sideline as Tate was untouched for the first 17 yards.
  • (2-TE): After play-action, Clausen fires an arrow-route to Ragone on the right side for a 6-yard gain. Nice backside block by Paul Duncan as pointed out by the game announcers. Ragone should stay on his feet at the end of runs rather than jumping (fumbled when he hit the turf).
  • (2-TE): Hughes follows a pulling Young over the right side on a toss for 10 yards and another Irish first down. Solid blocking at the point by Rudolph to help seal a lane for Hughes and by Ragone straight ahead as the downfield lead. Rudolph and Ragone both lined up in down positions to Young's right side on the formation. Wenger stayed with his block into the hole and Hughes bounced off two tacklers for additional yardage on the run. Left guard Chris Stewart executed two separate solo blocks on the play all the way through the whistle.
  • (3-Wide): WSU calls timeout
  • (2-TE): Split wide right, Rudolph runs a quick out for 11 yards an another Irish first down. A personal foul (face mask) on the Cougars adds 15 yards to the play setting up the Irish with 1st and Goal at the WSU 8-yard line.
  • (Wildcat with Hughes as the QB): Hughes hands to a motioning Tate but the Irish playmaker is held to two yards over the left side. Had Tate followed Kamara's seal block outside he would have score (Tate cut in, jumped, and was taken down by a host of Cougars). It appeared the left-handed Tate was originally looking to throw a pass into the end zone to Clausen but the outside corner stayed with the Irish QB (split wide left) on the play.
  • (Power-I with Aldridge as the lead fullback): Hughes gains 5 yards over right guard thanks to a strong seal block by Young (kicking defender outside) and two solid blocks by Wenger, the first helping Olsen inside, then finding WILL LB Jason Stripling in space. Aldridge shot through the hole to slow MIKE LB Ledgerwood and Rudolph opened the running lane on the play though his assigned defender (Mattingly) eventually stopped Hughes downfield. Kamara got just enough of Myron Beck (LB) to be effective on the play.
  • (Offset-I with Aldridge as the staggered fullback): On 3rd and Goal with Ragone as the "move" tight end on the right, Hughes dives over low blocks by Young and Wenger as both Rudolph and Ragone win their battles at the point (near right tackle). Aldridge executed his lead block then for some reason blatantly wrapped up the defender at the tail end of the play.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: John Goodman in 3-Wide (prior to a timeout).

Final Drive/1st Half:

Breakdown: After a Cougars touchdown drive cut the ND lead to 16, the Irish took possession at their own 25-yard line with 1:16 remaining and drove 75 yards in 6 plays, scoring with no time remaining in the first half on a Hail Mary pass from Clausen-to-Tate. ND 30 WSU 7

  • (3-Wide with John Goodman): Matt Romine checks in at LT for Paul Duncan. Clausen hits Rudolph inside on a 9-yard hook route.
  • (3-Wide with John Goodman): On 2nd and 6 following a procedure penalty on Romine (that negated a long catch-and-run by Rudolph who had hooked up in the seam before carrying defenders downfield), a scrambling Clausen hit Riddick for a 6-yard check down over the middle for a first down at the ND 35-yard line. The subsequent personal foul penalty on Olsen put the Irish at 1st and 25 back at their own 20-yard line. Olsen, who delivered a vicious, and completely legal block on Mattingly downfield at the end of the run, then dove on top of Mattingly and delivered a needless shot to the fallen defender's back post-play.
  • (3-Wide with John Goodman): On 1st and 25, Clausen again hits Riddick for six yards outside right and the freshman ‘back wisely skated out of bounds to stop the clock.
  • (3-Wide with John Goodman): Clausen scrambles to his right and found Kamara who makes a fine all-hands sideline catch on a frozen rope from Clausen.
  • (3-Wide with John Goodman): On 3rd and 7, Clausen hits Riddick who cuts back for five additional yards and the first down (to temporarily stop the clock though the Irish burn their final timeout with just seven seconds remaining).
  • (3-Wide with John Goodman): On what we now know as "50-Go" and the ball marked at midfield, Clausen buys time by rolling right and uncorking a pass 60 yards in the air to the right corner end zone. A leaping Golden Tate stabbed, then secured the ball from three WSU defenders for a dramatic Hail Mary Touchdown.

    An absolutely incredible catch by the junior playmaker…the best skill position player in college football (at least the best non-QB).

  • Skill position subs on the drive: John Goodman as the No. 3 WR.

Three 2nd Quarter Observations:

  • Weis should have benched Olsen for his ridiculous post-play personal foul penalty (his second of the game) on the final drive.
  • If Michael Floyd returns to action at 90 percent of his former self, the Irish offense will be completely unstoppable at season's end. The Clausen/Tate/Rudolph/Floyd quartet will dominate college football if given the chance in 2010.
  • Mike Ragone played his best half of the season since the opener vs. Nevada, another game in which the Irish often employed the power 2-TE set.

Halftime Score: Notre Dame 30 WSU 7

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

  • Two-Tight End Sets: 17, including one that turned into a 5-receiver, empty backfield set.
  • Three-Wide Receiver Sets: 14 (including a play prior to a timeout and subsequent change).
  • Power I-Formation (Aldridge as FB): 6
  • Wild-Cat (Tate or Hughes as "QB"): 6
  • Off-Set I-Formation (Aldridge or Ragone as FB) 4

Note: The 3rd Quarter review will be posted near noon today. Top Stories