Irish Defense: 3rd Quarter

An ugly third quarter tackling effort by the Irish defense put the Irish in a 17-point hole Saturday night.

Below is Part III of our play-by-play recap of the Notre Dame defensive effort vs. the Panthers.

Click here to review the first and second quarters.

Panthers 1st Drive/2nd Half

Taking over at their own 20-yard line after a 17-yard Notre Dame punt, the Panthers drove 59 yards in five plays before settling for another field goal. The bulk of the drive's yardage occurred on its first play, as described below. The Irish played the entire drive with their 4-3 defensive personnel. Pitt 13 ND 3

  • QB Bill Stull hits sophomore star receiver Jonathan Baldwin for a 52-yard gain down the right sideline to begin the drive. Baldwin leapt over Irish senior CB Darrin Walls who had perfect position on the play but barely got off his feet to contend Baldwin for the ball in the air…a head-shaking epidemic that's plagued the Notre Dame CB group this season. Credit Panthers fullback Henry Hynoski for a teeth-shaking blitz pickup of Irish freshman LB Manti Te'o who timed his rush perfectly up the gut and would have dropped Stull for an easy sack on the play.
  • Freshman tailback Dion Lewis burst between center and right guard for a gain of seven yards. Irish junior Harrison Smith shed a block and dove at Lewis' back ankle before he could break through the second level of the ND defense. The Irish interior of Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams were completely controlled on the run and linebacker Brian Smith's run blitz was picked up by guard Joe Thomas.
  • Lewis trips while cutting back into the hole, setting up 3rd and 1 at the ND 20-yard line.
  • Ian Williams comes up with the play of the day for the Irish defense, bull-rushing center Robb Houser into the backfield to stop Hynoski for a loss on 3rd and 1 and forcing a Panthers field goal. Tremendous individual effort by Williams to save the Irish four points.
  • Substitutions: None.

2nd Drive/2nd Half

After an ND punt travels just 20 yards, Pitt took over at its own 45-yard line and took just two plays to take a commanding lead. Notre Dame played its Base 4-3 then Goal Line defense on the two play, 55-yard drive. PITT 20 ND 3

  • Backup freshman tailback Ray Graham blows through the Irish defense for a 52-yard gain to the ND 2-yard line. After Graham was forced to cutback by Ethan Johnson's interior penetration, the freshman backup eluded Harrison Smith with a tremendous cut in space; ran over Sergio Brown's curious tackle attempt, broke through a hustling, diving effort by Ian Williams downfield, and then powered his way for five more yards as Brown and McCarthy finally corralled him short of the goal line. Graham quite simply provided the Irish defense with its most embarrassing moment of the 2009 season. A terrible, inexcusable tackling effort by the entire defense.
  • Graham bulls over the right side for a two-yard touchdown. Williams again showed good penetration but was ultimately blocked. Manti Te'o, off-balance after he fought off an initial block, was subsequently buried by Hynoski into the end zone. Harrison Smith and Brian Smith were shielded from the play while Lewis-Moore went low but was caved in as Graham ran through his gap.
  • Substitutions: Paddy Mullen and Scott Smith entered for the one-play goal line effort.

3rd Quarter Observation:

  • Sheesh…

Note: The 4th Quarter review will be published after Charlie Weis press conference this afternoon. Top Stories