The Eye in the Sky: 4th Quarter

IrishEyes' final look at the Notre Dame offense's performance vs. the Cougars Saturday night examines the Irish backups and a few flashes of brilliance from three first-year players.

Below is the final part of our four-column review of the Irish offensive game tape from Saturday night. Click here to read parts I, II, and III.

First Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: The Irish managed just 16 yards on 4 snaps (1:27) and were forced to punt at midfield. ND 33 WSU 7

  • (Offset-I with James Aldridge at FB): Theo Riddick is the beneficiary of Aldridge's best block of the day, a perfect cut-block in the hole that allowing Riddick a cutback lane through the right side. The freshman followed seal blocks by right guard Dan Wenger and center Eric Olsen as well as a pancake block in space by left guard Chris Stewart and an equally effective strike by tight end Kyle Rudolph, then broke a second-level tackle (Wenger eventually lost his feet and his block) for extra yardage and an 11-yard gain.
  • (Offset-I with James Aldridge at FB): Riddick picked his way through a hole over center for 5 yards. Aldridge effectively cut his defender over left guard while Olsen threw down his assigned DT. Rudolph effectively sealed at the second level and Wenger won his battle up front. Stewart uncharacteristically lost his block in space (SLB Andy Mattingly) and the productive Cougars tackler made yet another stop of an Irish ball carrier.
  • (Offset-I with James Aldridge at FB): On a fake hand-off left, Crist rolls and eludes backside LDE Casey Hamlett but misses an open Rudolph downfield toward the right sideline with an errant (inside) throw.
  • (2-TE): Crist eluded interior pressure then rolled and threw low and outside to Riddick on the sideline (caught adroitly by the freshman parallel but out of bounds) and the Irish were forced to punt. Irish head coach Charlie Weis appeared a tad displeased with Crist's accuracy on the drive.
  • Substitutions: Mike Ragone entered as the second TE on 3rd Down. LT Matt Romine took over for Paul Duncan on the blind side.

Second Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After a tongue-lashing from their head coach, the Irish scored on a 3-play (including a holding penalty), 55-yard drive to make the score: ND 40 WSU 7

  • (3-Wide): Romine in for Sam Young at RT; Mike Ragone in at tight end for Rudolph and John Goodman as the team's No. 3 WR. Riddick is bottled up inside for a gain of a yard (Mattingly on the tackle). The Irish were simply outnumbered as the Cougars began to play the pass on 1st Down.
  • (3-Wide): Riddick follows Romine, Ragone, and Duval Kamara (crack back with authority) on a toss right and a cutback opens the sideline for the elusive freshman. Center Eric Olsen effectively cuts MIKE LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, but the Hoffman-Ellis (impressively) bounces up and angles Riddick out of bounds after a 24-yard gain. Riddick looked like a speedier Lee Becton on his cut inside that would have faked out Cougars DB Aire Justin in flag football as well (that much separation after the cut). Ragone contributed two blocks on the 24-yard run but the play was called back by a Dan Wenger hold (tackle) in the backfield.
  • (3-Wide): After a play-action fake, Crist sets his feet in the pocket and hits Goodman on the pass of the day: a 64-yard post pattern from the left slot for an Irish touchdown and 40-7 advantage. It was the first touchdown pass and catch for both Crist and Goodman, respectively. Goodman covers ground in a hurry in the open-field with his long strides.
  • Substitutions: Deion Walker enters on 2nd Down as the outside left receiver.

Third Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: 3 plays; negative 8 yards, (1:27 off the clock) a lost fumble, and an injury to backup QB Dayne Crist. ND 40 WSU 7

  • (Power-I with Steve Paskorz at FB): Taylor Dever checks in at RT; Mike Golic at Center; Jonas Gray at half back; Deion Walker and Roby Toma are the wide receivers to start the drive. Gray gains nothing up the middle as it appeared Paskorz chose the wrong blitzing linebacker to block in the hole (Ragone had engaged the defender Paskorz attacked).
  • (2-TE): A toss-right to Gray is fumbled and recovered by the sophomore for an 8-yard loss.
  • (3-Wide): Dever is beaten off RT (but recovers) by a speed rush outside, forcing Crist to step up in the pocket on 3rd and 18. The sophomore QB collapses awkwardly when hit on the foot from behind and fumbles with the Cougars gaining possession. An MRI is planned for Crist (today) to discover the extent of the damage to his knee.
  • Substitutions: Andrew Nuss entered on 2nd Down as a tight end and Shaquelle Evans checks in on 3rd Down.

Final Drive:

Breakdown: Following a WSU TD drive, the Irish move 19 yards in 6 play (4:13 time of possession) but the Irish are unable to run out the clock, punting back to the Cougars with just over a minute remaining. ND 40 WSU 14

  • Personnel Breakdown: Evan Sharpley enters at QB for the Irish replacing the injured Dayne Crist. The Offensive Line (left-to-right) shows: Lane Clelland (TE wearing #96); Romine, Stewart, Golic, Cave, Dever, Andrew Nuss (TE) with George West at WR and Jonas Gray in the backfield behind FB Steve Paskorz.
  • (Offset-I with Paskorz as the staggered FB): A toss right to Gray is stopped as Romine is unable to make his (difficult) block in space while Paskorz and Dever execute solid cut blocks in front of Gray.
  • Offset-I with Paskorz as the staggered FB): The Cougars continue to sell out vs. the run and Gray is held to four yards setting up 3rd and 5.
  • (2-TE): Gray follows solid blocks over the left side by Romine and Clelland as well as an effective effort by Cave in space. George West, who missed a cut block on the previous play, controlled CB Terrance Hayward on the run downfield. Barry Gallup took out his man with a cut back in the slot after coming in motion to the right. It was Cave's assigned defender who dropped Gray after the 14-yard first down run.
  • (2-TE and Power-I with Paskorz at FB): The Irish are called for a false start (Gallup) setting up 1st and 15 at their own 47-yard line. Gray is outnumbered at the line for a minimal gain.
  • (2-TE): Gray's toss left is again overrun as the Irish attempt to run out the clock. Gallup technically missed his cut-block after coming in motion left.
  • On 3rd and 13 with 2:02 remaining, Gray gains 13 on a toss left. Cave won at the point; Romine executed his cut-block; and Clelland briefly sealed for an opening over left tackle.
  • (Offset-I with Paskorz at FB): The Irish take a delay-of-game and punt back to the Cougars for the final drive.
  • Substitutions: Barry Gallup entered at WR on 3rd down.

4th Quarter Observations:

  • Freshman half back Theo Riddick will be a player for the Irish. He has the skill set to challenge for serious playing time next season in (heavy) relief of seniors Armando Allen and Robert Hughes.
  • WSU strong side linebacker Andy Mattingly can play for my team any day.
  • When Jonas Gray is your fourth tailback…you've done something right on the recruiting trail. But Gray will have to concentrate more (no more fumbles) to earn a spot in back in the close-game rotation by season's end.

Final Score: Notre Dame 40 Washington State 14

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

  • Three-Wide Receiver Sets: 16
  • Off-Set I-Formation: 10
  • Two-Tight End Sets: 9
  • Power I-Formation: 5 Top Stories