First ND Drive/2nd Half:
Breakdown: The Irish take the opening second half kickoff and travel 77 yards in 11 plays (5:43) before settling for a 20-yard field goal after stalling at the UConn 1-yard line. ND 17 UConn 10
- (Power-I/James Aldridge at FB): Jimmy Clausen hits Michael Floyd for a 13-yard gain on a bubble screen to the right. Golden Tate got just enough of his defender to spring Floyd for extra yardage. According to Charlie Weis in Sunday's press conference, this pass is actually a called running play (for the halfback) but when Clausen sees the defender playing back against Floyd, his throw to Floyd takes the place of the called run. In other words, ND tracks this as a running play.
- (Offset-I/Bobby Burger at FB): Armando Allen gains 8 yards on a draw up the middle, carrying tacklers for an extra five yards. Solid effort by left guard Chris Stewart, first at the point of attack as part of a double-team block, then immediately after hitting the linebacker at the second level.
- (Offset-I/Bobby Burger at FB): Allen follows fullback Bobby Burger over left tackle for a gain of 16 yards and an Irish first down. Strong seal block by left tackle Paul Duncan and Stewart buried his man inside. Tate came down the line for a crack-back block on the safety to spring Allen at the second level.
- (2-TE): Floyd gains 7 on a quick-look pass to the right side (gained six yards after the catch and a broken tackle near the line).
- (2-TE): Allen loses 4 yards on a toss left as Burger loses his block on the edge.
- (3-Wide): Freshman Theo Riddick checks in to flank Clausen (with Allen on Clausen's right side) and Tate catches a seven-yard crossing route just short of the 1st Down marker. Solid protection all around for Clausen on the pass.
- (3-Wide): On 4th and 2 from the UConn 22-yard line, Allen bursts up the left B-Gap (between guard and tackle) for 26 yards (tying his career-best on a single carry). Duncan threw a tremendous down block to spring Allen; Stewart sealed the inside and a pulling Trevor Robinson alertly located the last defender in the hole before delivering a crushing block to allow Allen a running lane. Tight end Mike Ragone also stood up his man at the line of scrimmage and center Eric Olsen executed a backside block on the left defensive end. Allen made a defender miss at the second level but was caught from behind at the 7-yard line (a crucial, four-point tackle over the course of the game).
- (Offset-I/Bobby Burger at FB): Backup running back Robert Hughes is stuffed for no gain. Stewart was absolutely blown up on the play and Burger missed his lead block as well to contribute to the tackle.
- (2-TE/Taylor Dever as the second tight end): Hughes gains 6 yards as Robinson and right tackle Sam Young completely cave in the line and Dever holds his block at the point as well. Robinson lost his (second) block at the final moment as Hughes is stopped with a head of steam.
- (JUMBO): Matt Romine and Taylor Dever (eligible receiver) check in as extra offensive linemen. Both tight ends remain in the contest leaving just Clausen and Allen off the line of scrimmage but Allen is stuffed as UConn outmanned the Irish up front. Another nice play by linebacker Greg Lloyd at the goal line vs. Allen and the Irish are forced to kick a short field goal. Trevor Robinson reinjured his ankle on 3rd Down and did not return. Skill position subs on the drive: Taylor Dever and Matt Romine as described above. Robert Hughes and Theo Riddick at half back.
Second ND Drive/2nd Half:
Breakdown: Following a kick return touchdown by Jordan Todman, the Irish take control at their own 29-yard line but go three-and-out in just forty-seven seconds. 17-17
- (2-TE): Clausen fires incomplete to Tate on an out-route as Tate slips coming out of his break (nearly intercepted after deflecting off of Tate's outstretched hands).
- (Offset-I): Clausen hits Tate on the left side for a gain of 8 yards against a Cover 3 zone. Backup guard Andrew Nuss was collapsed into Clausen's feet at the tail end of an otherwise determined block.
- (4-Wide/Roby Toma and Duval Kamara as wide receivers): On the game's most crucial 3rd and short to date, the Irish dial up an immediate pass to freshman wide receiver Roby Toma (newly into the contest) from a bunch-right formation. Toma was blanketed on the play and Clausen's pass sailed wide. No pressure, just a bad read and a bad throw by Clausen. Smartest guy in the room syndrome strikes again for the head coach… Skill position subs on the drive: Andrew Nuss took over at right guard for the re-injured Robinson. Toma and Kamara on the crucial third-down.
Final ND Drive/3rd Quarter:
Breakdown: Another quality drive but nothing to show for it as Floyd fumbles at the tail end of a 7-play, 61-yard journey (3:30). ND 17 UConn 17
- (3-Wide/Kamara): Floyd gains 9 yards on a quick look (and broken tackle) to the right side.
- (3-Wide): Allen is stuffed for no gain as Ragone and Stewart are pushed into the backfield. Nice pull block, incidentally, by Andrew Nuss on the play.
- (Power-I): Senior fullback James Aldridge gains two yards on a belly dive for the first down. Nuss and Olsen executed their blocks while Young curiously left his man to down block (not sure about the design of the play, but it worked nonetheless).
- (Power-I): Clausen hits Tate for a quick slant over the right side for 13 yards (7 after the catch) and a first down.
- (3-Wide): Allen earns 5 yards off right tackle as Young, Ragone, Nuss, and Olsen all execute their blocks perfectly. Young completely pancaked defensive end Trevardo Williams six yards downfield. Allen should have gained much more than five yards on this carry as Kamara sealed the outside as well. Allen had to make one man miss and he couldn't, slipping at the second level.
- (3-Wide): Clausen hits Allen on a well-timed screen pass to the left flat as both Stewart and Olsen perfectly execute blocks in space. Allen gained 14 yard before being touched (and knocked out of bounds).
- (Offset-I): Floyd is called for a false start (incredibly sloppy at the line of scrimmage, wow).
- (3-Wide): On 1st and 15, Floyd temporarily makes amends for his mental error, catching a square-in for a 23-yard gain. But a physical error followed as Floyd has the ball easily poked out of his left arm while running after the catch. A major ball security gaffe by Floyd who is not yet the same (star) player after courageously returning from a broken clavicle (earlier than expected). Skill position subs on the drive: Roby Toma on the final play as the team's 3rd wide receiver
3rd Quarter Observations:
- Burger hasn't been the same as a lead blocker since injuring his neck vs. Washington (on a cheap shot after the whistle) on October 3.
- What happened to the Wildcat at the goal line? UConn outnumbered the Irish twice; a natural advantage the Wildcat is designed to negate.
- The Irish missed Trevor Robinson (ankle) greatly over the game's final 24 minutes.
- What does a field goal on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, leading by four points after an opening 11-play drive tell me? Same thing it tells you and the 11 players on the offense…