Eye in the Sky: 2nd Quarter

Part II of our look at Notre Dame's offensive performance vs. the Panthers shows a sobering backslide by what had been a much-improved offensive line.

For a review of the first quarter, click here.

First Full 2nd Quarter Drive:

Breakdown: Still trailing 3-0, Notre Dame took over at its own 10-yard line with 13:29 remaining in the half but after an initial first down, Clausen was intercepted downfield by Panthers safety Jarred Holley. (4 plays, 13 yards, 1:17 time of possession). Pitt 3 ND 0

  • (3-Wide): Jimmy Clausen immediately hit halfback Theo Riddick with a near-side (left) flair and the Irish freshman gained three extra yards with two jukes for 5 yards on the play.
  • (2-TE): Lined up with a bunched-formation (Bobby Burger, Michael Floyd, Duval Kamara ) right, Clausen fired left (near side) to Golden Tate off the line and the Irish junior powers his way for eight yards and an Irish first down.
  • (Offset-I): Burger dropped a flair route outside (would have been stopped for minimal gain). Clausen was immediately pressured by nose tackle Gus Mustakas who blew by right guard Trevor Robinson (still likely suffering from a sprained ankle) with an outside move.
  • (2-TE): Clausen had all day vs. a four-man rush but his deep post route to a double-covered Floyd was intercepted by cornerback Jovani Chappel. Live (not shown on replay) I saw Floyd take a false step/stumble about 10 yards into his route.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Burger at tight end and fullback; Kamara at WR; Riddick began and ended the drive at halfback.

Second Full ND Drive/2nd Quarter:

Breakdown: ND took possession at the Panthers 34-yard line and drove 43 yards in 9 snaps before settling for a David Ruffer field goal. Pitt 3 ND 3

  • (2-TE): Charlie Weis dusts off a play from his first game at ND with a fake reverse to Michael Floyd (right to left) and eventual throw to Floyd down the left sideline for a gain of two yards (Rhema McKnight ran the same route in 2005 at Heinz Field for a gain of 27 yards).
  • (Shotgun Split-Back): On a draw run to right halfback Armando Allen over the left side, left tackle Paul Duncan and center Eric Olsen controlled their defenders as did Golden Tate (wide left) downfield. From his left halfback spot, Riddick threw a textbook cut block to spring Allen in the hole and left guard Chris Stewart also found his assigned ‘backer in space (though Stewart lost his at the last moment downfield) as Allen powered for 15 yards and a first down. A tremendous block by the freshman Riddick on WILL LB Max Gruder made the play.
  • (Shotgun Split-Back): After a fake screen left, a spinning Clausen looked right and hit Allen in the flat but SAM linebacker Greg Williams ran around a Robinson block attempt to stop Allen for a loss of five yards. Robinson simply could not move well enough in space with his bad right ankle (and was eventually replaced by Dan Wenger). Terrible timing on the play due largely to the outside rush by Jabaa Sheard, who simply beat Sam Young outside.
  • (3-Wide): Allen is drilled as the check down receiver over the middle by Gruder (two yard gain). Matt Romine checked in as an extra tight end to Young's right but the pair were beaten by Sheard again. Olsen and Stewart were unsuccessfully in a double-team block vs. backup NT Myles Caragein as well (Robinson and Duncan, if you were wondering, did win their respective battles up front). The Panthers four-man rush simply beat Notre Dame's six-man OL on the play.
  • (3-Wide): 3rd and 13: Clausen found Kamara on a 14-yard comeback on the right sideline. Jimmy Clausen has a cannon.
  • (3-Wide): Allen followed a pulling Stewart over the right side for a gain of two yards. Stewart lost his block (Adam Gunn) at the tail end of the run. Both right side lineman (Young and Robinson) ended up on the ground early in the play. Kamara controlled his defender for the duration of the play.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen's out-route left to Tate is broken up by CB Aaron Berry (great break on the ball by Berry though not a good route by Tate who telegraphed his out route).
  • (4-Wide): On 3rd and 8 from the Pitt 28-yard line, Clausen was flushed left by outside pressure (behind him, decent recovery by Paul Duncan after he was initially beaten) and forced to scramble for five yards. I noticed live that Clausen had plenty of time after his initial move, but he was technically correct to leave the pocket with a rusher seemingly free behind him.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Robby Parris entered at WR on the drive's final play; Kamara served as the team's third receiver for the drive.

Final ND Drive/1st Half:

Breakdown: Trailing 10-3 after a Jonathan Baldwin diving touchdown catch, Notre Dame took over on its own 30-yard line with 2:31 remaining. Their drive stalled after 4 plays (11 yards) and the Irish were forced to punt back to the Panthers who took control with 1:31 remaining. Pitt 10 ND 3

  • (3-Wide): Clausen hit Tate for 11 yards despite outside pressure from LDE Jabaal Sheard, who beat Young badly off the edge. Tate lined up slot left and came across the defense, underneath the linebackers in zone coverage to provide Clausen with a late target as his protection broke down. Clausen not only shook off Sheard's grasp, but after stepping up in the pocket, collected himself to flick a pass with Caragein in his face. Tremendous pocket presence from the Irish junior.
  • (3-Wide): A diving comeback attempt by Parris is ruled incomplete (and upheld by a booth review). Parris was a hair late coming out of his break (not viewable on the TV tape, unfortunately).
  • (3-Wide): Clausen received pressure on a delayed blitz from Max Gruder and threw incomplete (too high) outside left to Tate. Gruder simply ran through backup guard Dan Wenger's right gap when the senior doubled down on nose tackle Myles Caragein. Either a poor line call by center Eric Olsen or Wenger blew an audibled assignment (and that, fellow fans, is the weakness of a TV tape review).
  • (3-Wide): On 3rd and 10 from his own 41-yard line, Clausen received good protection vs. a three-man rush but had no open targets and was forced to throw intentionally out of bounds after scrambling right.
  • Position subs on the drive: Dan Wenger took over at right guard for Trevor Robinson.

Three 2nd Quarter Observations:

  • Notre Dame's receiving corps behind Tate and Floyd has not developed to the point where they scare any secondary with a pulse (though Kamara is a plus-player as a downfield and in-line blocker).
  • A key to Notre Dame's offensive execution next season could lie in the necessary improvement of potential 5th-year senior Dan Wenger.
  • The offense missed the presence of injured sophomore tight end Kyle Rudolph as third dangerous target. Clausen's receivers (namely Kamara and Parris) have to work harder to get open after the initial route is covered.

Halftime Score: Pittsburgh 10 Notre Dame 3

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

  • Three-Wide Receiver Sets: 13
  • Two-Tight End Sets: 6
  • Shotgun Split (two-back) Sets: 3
  • Four-Wide Receiver Sets: 3
  • Wild-Cat (Tate as "QB"): 2
  • Off-Set I-Formation (Burger as FB) 1
  • Run to end half: One play

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