The Eye in the Sky: 3rd Quarter

Part III of our offensive game tape review examines the third quarter Saturday night as the Irish offense finally found a way to stop itself.

Below is the Part III of IrishEyes full game-tape review of the Irish offense vs. the Cougars. Click here to read our review of the 1st Quarter as well as the 2nd Quarter.

First Drive/2nd Half:

Breakdown: Leading 30-7, Notre Dame drives 25 yards in 8 plays (4:11 time of possession) but the Irish drive stalls near mid-field. ND 30 WSU 7

  • (2-TE): Notre Dame opens the 2nd half with the same (or similar) play that opened the contest…sneaking Kyle Rudolph underneath on a Jimmy Clausen bootleg right. Once again, WSU backside DE Casey Hamlett stays home and this time applies more up-field pressure and Clausen is forced to throw the ball away. Tight End Mike Ragone was running a deep cross to the right as well.
  • (3-Wide): Robert Hughes finds a middle lane created by center Eric Olsen, right guard Dan Wenger, and pulling left guard Chris Stewart for four yards on 2nd down. Right tackle Sam Young was a tad soft on his block in space vs. MIKE LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis.
  • (3-Wide): On 3rd and 6, Rudolph lays out to catch a slightly-errant hook-route throw for a 7-yard gain and an Irish first down.
  • (3-Wide): Hughes gains 7 yards as the Irish collapse the Cougars line with down blocks to the right. Each of the five Irish linemen executed (or were in position to execute) their individual blocks on the play but backside RDE Travis Long made the tackle in pursuit.
  • (3-Wide): Hughes powers for four yards on a 2nd and 3 draw play for a first down. Paul Duncan, Wenger, and Stewart won at the point but Olsen couldn't get to MIKE LB Hoffman-Ellis on the play (Olsen was effectively chipped by the nose tackle).
  • (3-Wide): Hughes again gains 5 yards on a determined run over the right side as the Irish enter WSU territory. Solid initial blocks by Young and Wenger but Olsen could not execute in space vs. the MIKE LB. Time to take out the usually solid Irish captain and let him know there's 30 minutes remaining.
  • (3-Wide): Tate is corralled on a bubble screen for a loss of two yards. Excellent open-field tackle by FS Xavier Hicks on the determined Tate.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen fires low to Goodman on the sideline incomplete. The Irish sophomore receiver has to shield the defender with his body better when his back is to the defense at first-down yardage.
  • Skill Position Substitutions: John Goodman as the No. 3 WR.

Second Drive/2nd Half:

Breakdown: The Irish drive 40 yards in 11 plays (6:10) but settle for a 23-yard field goal by Nick Tausch. ND 33 WSU 7

  • (Power-I with James Aldridge at FB): Hughes runs behind center Eric Olsen and left guard Chris Stewart (both won at the point) and Aldridge meets MLB Mike Ledgerwood in the whole but the Cougars MIKE ‘backer sheds him and brings down Hughes after a four-yard gain. Right guard Dan Wenger won his one-on-one battle up front as well while Rudolph lost SLB Mattingly late in the play (Mattingly combined with Ledgerwood for the tackle).
  • Offset-I with James Aldridge at FB): After play-action, Clausen hits Hughes on a middle check-down and the Irish runner sidesteps a tackler for an additional 7-8 yards on a 14-yard gain to the WSU 27-yard line.
  • Power-I with James Aldridge at FB): Hughes gains 3 yards over left tackle as Duncan executes his first outside block but can't spin in time to locate a second defender who brings down Hughes with the help of WLB Jason Stripling, who bounced off a lead block by Aldridge on the edge.
  • (2-TE): Following a timeout, Theo Riddick hits the left side on 2nd and 7 for a 5-yard gain between Duncan and Stewart. Riddick earned additional yardage with a dead-stop cutback in the hole. Tight end Mike Ragone threw yet another good seal block outside of left tackle.
  • (3-Wide): Facing 3rd and 2, Clausen hands to Riddick on an inside draw for a 7-yard gain. Riddick followed a strong block by Olsen and a tremendous seal by Wenger through the gap and bounced off the unblocked FS Xavier Hicks for an additional five yards. Riddick was one broken ankle tackle from a touchdown down the pipe.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen hits Goodman in the right slot for a 9-yard bubble screen. Kamara (outside right) dominates his cornerback to allow Goodman the sideline before being knocked out of bounds inside the 3-yard line.
  • (Offset-I): Riddick gains a yard up the middle as the Irish unbalanced front line is stalemated at the point. Duncan and Young (on the left side) arguably won their assignments but Stewart and Olsen were both slightly pushed back, allowing a clean hit on Riddick.
  • (Offset-I): Hughes is crushed by Ledgerwood for no gain over the right side. Sam Young executed his block(s) but the Irish were simply outnumbered on the play. Wenger was sub-marined on the move which lessened the intensity of Aldridge's lead block. Ragone held up on the right side while Rudolph lost his block at the tail end. LT Paul Duncan could not get to LDT Anthony Laurenzi on a down block and Laurenzi was the unsung hero on the play.
  • (Offset-I): Clausen trips over his own foot backpedaling (might have been touched just enough on his back foot) and re-injures his turf toe on the play. Tony Turbin is credited with a minimal contact sack on the play. A pretty adjustment on the snap by LB Myron Beck took away the slant route to Rudolph from the outside right (game announcers incorrectly diagnosed a fade by the big tight end).
  • (3-Wide): With Dayne Crist at QB, the Irish run a fake flair pass to Hughes left and spin back right for a tight end screen to the right side to Rudolph with three blockers (Wenger, Olsen, Stewart) in front. The nimble tight end had a chance to score as Wenger destroyed his man on the outside but center Eric Olsen inexplicably whiffs/watches his assigned defender (could not have been set up better, either) Mattingly run by him for the solo tackle. The only acceptable explanation is that Stewart, trailing the play, was assigned to Mattingly and Olsen was caught "looking" at the approaching LB.
  • Field Goal: Nick Tausch sets a Notre Dame record with his 13th consecutive field goal on 4th down.

Third Drive/2nd Half:

Breakdown: Following a Robert Blanton interception, the Irish drive 15 yards on 5 plays (2:29) but the march stalls with a punt at their own 45-yard line. . ND 33 WSU 7

  • (3-Wide): Crist turns and fires a 10-yard pass to a wide open Tate standing about 12 yards away in the slot. Tate looks less than pleased at the short-hopped throw…
  • (Power-I with Aldridge at FB): A delayed handoff to Hughes gains 18 yards between center and right guard as Olsen ushers his DT completely out of the play and Wenger easily controls his assigned defender as well. Subbing at RT for Sam Young, Matt Romine shields his defender and Aldridge throws his most authoritative block of the day as Hughes, cutting after 7 yards, rumbles untouched for the first 12 yards before going down in the arms of two tacklers on the gain. Kyle Rudolph threw the key wham block inside to spring Hughes through the line.
  • (2-TE): Hughes cuts back at the line of scrimmage and finds a seam to the left side (cleared outside by Duncan and Ragone and collapsed inside by Stewart) with another 5-yard run through arm tackles. Wenger again executed a strong block while Olsen was a step slow going after his LB assignment.
  • (Power-I with Aldridge at FB): Hughes blows through the middle for another 16 yards but Rudolph is called for holding in the hole. The Irish lose another 15 yards as Stewart is called for a (weak) personal foul penalty (he tripped and hit a defender on his stumble to the ground).
  • (Offset-I with Aldridge at FB): Facing 2nd and 24 near midfield, Crist fires a pass five yards in front of a noticeably displeased Tate. Crist appeared to hit his hand on a pad/helmet on his follow-through.
  • (3-Wide): On 3rd and 24, Hughes gains 11 yards on a draw to his own 45-yard line and the Irish are forced to punt. Fine blocking across the board though the defense invites an 11-yard gain on 3rd and 24.

Three 3rd Quarter Observations:

  • Aldridge is 100 percent willing as a lead blocker but has to work on keeping his feet upon contact to finish his blocks at the point.
  • The Irish are better off in the 3-Wide spread formation when facing Goal and more than four yards to score. The offense limits itself removing talent on the outside in favor of bulk and a lead blocker up front.
  • Had Crist completed either of his bounced passes to Tate the Irish receiver would have likely topped the 100-yard receiving mark for the sixth time this season and record-breaking fourth consecutive week.

Third Quarter Score: ND 33 WSU 7

Note: The 4th Quarter offensive review will be published mid-afternoon. Top Stories