The Eye in the Sky: 1st Quarter

Part I of our four-part film breakdown of the Notre Dame offense vs. the Huskies on Saturday.

First Notre Dame Drive:

Breakdown: After a UConn three-and-out, Notre Dame drove 69 yards in 9 plays (3:11) for the game's opening touchdown. The Irish employed the no-huddle offense for the bulk of the drive. ND 7 UConn 0

  • (3-Wide - Robby Parris as the third wide receiver): Armando Allen gains five yards up the gut. Left guard Chris Stewart executed his pulling block (to the right side) while both center Eric Olsen and right guard Trevor Robinson sealed their defenders in the middle.
  • (3-Wide): In a no-huddle offense, Jimmy Clausen hits Allen over the middle on a check-down throw for six yards and a first down.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen hits Parris on a quick turn-out from the slot for three yards.
  • (3-Wide): A draw to Allen gains 10 yards as both Stewart and tight end Mike Ragone execute 2nd level blocks in space as does Robinson, late. Olsen neutralized his defensive tackle with a hold that was not called.
  • (3-Wide): A square-in to Golden Tate (left to right), the first of a season-high 12 first half passes between the hash marks, gains 14 yards.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen to Tate again, this time on a four-yard slant but Tate breaks free and bursts straight ahead for an additional 10 yards on the play to the 15-yard line.
  • (3-Wide): An out to wide receiver Michael Floyd (wide left) sails out of bounds. Bad timing on the play between Clausen and Tate (it appeared Clausen threw too early, but the QB usually looks "wrong" on TV tapes and that's not often the case).
  • (3-Wide): Allen gains 5 on another check-down out of the backfield. He's not special on that "circle-route" or check down, but Allen is certainly reliable.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen hits Tate for a skinny post (with a slight hesitation move to break free after Clausen faked a handoff to Allen) and an 8-yard touchdown. Tate's 15th (total) touchdown of the season, 13 through the air.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: None. Parris manned the 3WR spot for the entire drive.

Second Notre Dame Drive:

Breakdown: Taking possession at its own 17-yard line, ND drove 26 yards in 5 plays (2:05) before punting back to the Huskies. ND 7 UConn 0

  • (4-Wide with Parris and Duval Kamara): Allen gains five over the left side as Stewart buries his man inside. Olsen was a tad late getting to the middle linebacker and both Robinson and right tackle Sam Young missed blocks on left defensive end Lindsey Witten who charged down the line to make the tackle from behind, along with LB Lawrence Wilson.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen hits Floyd on a quick slant (right side) for 15 yards. Floyd barreled ahead for extra yards after the catch. That's the best he's looked since returning from injury.
  • (4-Wide): Allen gains five yards over right guard as Robinson wins at the point and Olsen secures the middle linebacker. Stewart also executed his weakside block.
  • (4-Wide): Allen is held to one yard as left tackle Paul Duncan completely misses his block on Witten.
  • (4-Wide): A poorly run slant by Tate is broken up by CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
  • Skill position subs on the drive: None. Kamara and Parris served as the extra receivers for the duration of the drive.

Last ND Drive/1st Quarter:

Breakdown: Leading 7-0 with 4:37 remaining in the quarter, Notre Dame embarked on an 11-play, 80-yard drive (5:05) that culminated in a Jimmy Clausen touchdown sneak from the 1-yard line to begin the 2nd Quarter. Notre Dame 14 UConn 0

  • (3-Wide/Parris): Allen gains 7 on a circle-route from the backfield (left side across to the right).
  • (3-Wide): Again in the no-huddle attack, Tate catches a 2-yard slant and is wrapped up immediately by Wreh-Wilson.
  • (Power-I/2 TE) My vote for the prettiest play-design of the season: Tate, lined up as the tailback in the Power-I with fullback James Aldridge in front of him, runs a wheel route up the right sideline for an easy catch-and-run of 39 yards. Clausen first faked to Aldridge, then faked a pitch to Tate, before briefly looking downfield to Floyd and firing out in the flat to Tate.
  • (3-Wide): Allen dropped a circle route (same as the first play of this drive) for what would have been a nice gain.
  • (3-Wide): Still in the no-huddle, Ragone catches a delayed 3-yard crossing route and holds on while taking an immediate shot.
  • (3-Wide): Freshman half back Theo Riddick checks in to join Allen flanking Clausen in the shotgun split-back formation. Clausen, with good protection, hits a wide open Tate across the field (left to right) for a gain of 15 yards to the UConn 14-yard line.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen is flushed from the pocket but manages four yards up the middle. Olsen lost his block late to cause the primary pressure on the Irish QB.
  • (2-TE): Clausen's playaction pass to Tate on a comeback near the goal line bounces but the Huskies were hit with a 5-yard offside penalty.
  • (JUMBO Power-I): Facing 2nd and 1 at the UConn 5-yard line, Allen gains one yard behind Notre Dame's JUMBO formation, which pits right tackle Taylor Dever (outside Sam Young) and left tackle Matt Romine (outside Paul Duncan) as sixth and seventh offensive linemen while both Ragone and Burger (lead fullback in the Power-I) remain in the contest. Seven OL, 2 TE, Clausen and a half back. Tough to tell on the TV tape but it appeared Young let go of his block a tick soon but Allen gained enough for an Irish first down.
  • (JUMBO Offset-I): 1st and Goal at the UConn 4-yard line. Allen gains 3 yards up the gut and is deemed just short of the goal as the quarter ends. Excellent blocks by Stewart (pulling) and Young on the right side and by Robinson sealing his man to allow Allen a running lane.
  • (JUMBO Power-I): Allen is drilled for no gain (and a lost helmet) on a goal line power run. Allen went airborne at the 2-yard line and was met before the goal by linebacker Greg Lloyd….an old school mid-air collision that we generally see from defenses against the Irish these days. A tough Allen got up barking at the Huskies defense but score one for the defense on that play.
  • (JUMBO Power-I) Clausen scores on a QB sneak behind Stewart and Olsen and a down block from Paul Duncan..)
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Bobby Burger joined Ragone in 2-TE sets. Taylor Dever and Matt Romine entered as extra offensive linemen (Dever was an eligible receiver) in the JUMBO sets late in the drive.

1st Quarter Observations:

  • Incredible start by Tate. It's a shame I know how this ends.
  • Floyd's timing with Clausen remains off after his Week Three injury. Get used to it…there's no chance the Irish receivers will have an early rapport next season with (likely) Dayne Crist at the controls.
  • Tate needs to run his inside routes with more consistency (and urgency).
  • The Irish always go left (behind Stewart, generally with Duncan blocking down) on QB sneaks.


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