Eye in the Sky: 4th Quarter

With 1:10 remaining, the Irish offense uncharacteristically fails to mount a drive and the Huskies prevail in double overtime.

Below is Part IV of our offensive film breakdown. For a review of the first three quarters, click here.

1st ND Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After a momentum-killing 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Toryan Smith moved the ball back to the UConn 47-yard line following a 21-yard punt return by Golden Tate, Notre Dame marched 41 yards in 11 plays (5:32) but again settled for a field goal in close and a three-point lead. ND 20 UConn 17

  • (Offset-I): A flea-flicker between Jimmy Clausen and Armando Allen is foiled by solid downfield coverage (Clausen had a full second to load and fire downfield before the pocket collapsed) but Clausen, in the arms of a sure sack, lobs an underhand pass to Allen for a gain of 8 yards.
  • (Power-I): Allen gains 4 yards off left tackle for an Irish first down. Stewart was beaten after an initial block and Allen was dropped with the ensuing arm tackle.
  • (Wildcat/Sprint Option): John Goodman takes a direct snap and runs a sprint-option keeper left but is limited to a one-yard gain to begin the 4th Quarter. The near-side sprint-option? I can't believe I'm still breaking down this film…
  • (3-Wide/Duval Kamara): Golden Tate comes from the left slot and takes a direct(inside) handoff from Clausen and gains 12 yards over the left (near) side. Tight end Mike Ragone, left tackle Paul Duncan, and wide receiver Duval Kamara threw fantastic blocks to open a running lane. Credit right tackle Sam Young for getting all the way over the left boundary for a block in space. Allen threw a lead block downfield as well.
  • (3-Wide): Allen gains 5 yards over left guard with a spin move that accounted for an extra two yards upon contact. The entire front five plus Ragone executed but there were no blocks to be had beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • (3-Wide): Allen is limited to a yard over left tackle to set up 3rd and 4 at the UConn 17-yard line. Stewart could not finish his block on the edge and Tate was stacked up as well.
  • (4-Wide): With Robert Hughes in at halfback for Allen, Clausen finds Robby Parris on a quick stick route looking outside for 5 yards and a first down.
  • (Offset-I): Hughes gains 3 yards over right tackle. Not a good run by Hughes as backup right guard Andrew Nuss had buried his man at the point and Hughes fell over both of them.
  • (Offset-I): Hughes gains two trying to pick his way up the middle. Hit the hole for crying out loud…
  • (3-Wide/Roby Toma): A stop-fade (back shoulder pass) to sails wide to and incomplete to Michael Floyd and the Irish again settle for a field goal inside the 10-yard line. Poor communication and/or timing between Floyd and Clausen again.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Bobby Burger at fullback. Robert Hughes at halfback. Roby Toma and Robby Parris at wide receiver.

2nd ND Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: After an end zone interception by Brian Smith, ND loses 9 yards on three snaps as the wheels continue to fall of the wagon. ND 20 UConn 17

  • (3-Wide/Duval Kamara): Allen is stuffed over right guard as Nuss is stood up and center Eric Olsen loses his block late in the play. No push by the Irish offensive line.
  • (3-Wide): Allen loses 3 yards slipping on a run over left tackle. Stewart lost his seal block inside and Kamara chose to crack as his cornerback came free to set the edge vs. Allen, denying an outside lane.
  • (3-Wide): Nuss is flattened by DT Kendall Reyes who sacks Clausen on 3rd Down. Unacceptable pass protection by Nuss who was singled out by Weis in early September as a player knocking on the door for playing time. Just absolutely crushed by Reyes on the play.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: None.

3rd ND Drive/4th Quarter:

Breakdown: Following a Connecticut field goal the Irish took control with 1:10 remaining from their own 22-yard line but turned the ball over on an Armando Allen fumble, setting up the Huskies with first down at the Irish 41. ND 20 UConn 20

  • (4-Wide/Kamara and Parris): Kamara drops a quick slant (behind him) to set up 2nd and 10. Clausen was a bit off Saturday upon further review.
  • (4-Wide/Kamara and Parris): A seam-route intended for Parris is broken up by linebacker Robby Parris. Incredible coverage by a linebacker on the Irish wide receiver.
  • (3-Wide/Kamara with Ragone at TE): Following a Notre Dame timeout (their last), Clausen throws a screen pass to Allen on the right side. Allen follows a great block by Olsen and seal by Ragone for near-1st Down yardage before being tackled two yards short from behind by a hard-charging Kendall Reyes. Allen fumbles on the play and UConn recovers at the ND 41-yard line with 0:49 remaining. Olsen was incorrectly called for holding but the penalty was obviously declined.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Mike Ragone for Parris on 3rd down.

1st ND Possession/Overtime:

Breakdown: UConn missed a 37-yard field goal that would have won the game in regulation. The Huskies then scored in the first overtime on 3rd and 7 with an 11-yard pass to Kashif Moore. The Irish, trailing for the first time, had to score a touchdown to force a second overtime and they responded with a 4-play drive that culminated in a 4-yard fade touchdown pass from Clausen to Floyd in the right corner. ND 27 UConn 27

  • (3-Wide/Parris): Clausen rushes a throw and misses Ragone low with the tight end open in the right flat.
  • (3-Wide): Clausen misses Tate on an out-route/back-shoulder fade to the right (Tate ran a go). I was on the field next to the play and Clausen chewed out Tate for running the wrong route.
  • (3-Wide): On 3rd and 10, Clausen buys time with a scramble left and finds a crossing Floyd for 21 yards and an Irish first down inside the 5-yard line. Solid pass protection with the exception of Nuss who was overpowered at the point again.
  • (Offset-I/Bobby Burger at fullback): Clausen throws a high back-corner fade to Floyd near the right pylon for the touchdown.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: Burger at fullback on the scoring play.

2nd ND Possession/Overtime:

Breakdown: The Irish manage just three snaps and settle for a fatal field goal (clutch kick by walk-on David Ruffer, I might add). UConn scores the game-winning touchdown in the second half of the overtime period. ND 30 UConn 27

  • (3-Wide): Allen gains 5 yards over right guard behind solid blocks from Nuss and Olsen and a nice pull by Stewart.
  • (3-Wide): Allen is held to one-yard over right tackle as Kamara successfully crack-blocks the safety but his cornerback comes free to hit Allen before he could find an inside lane. I can't imagine the design of this play is to allow the corner to come free on an outside run.
  • (3-Wide): Facing 3rd and 4, Tate picks the wrong time to run a lazy slant, as CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson jumps the route and forces an Irish field goal. Hard to fault Tate, without whom the Irish would not have finished above .500, but that was a terrible route.
  • Skill position subs on the drive: None.

4th Quarter Observations:

  • Upon further review, Clausen suffered through his least impressive outing of the season. Bouts of inaccuracy and happy feet coupled with a few bad (quick) decision in his pass progression. He's human.
  • Tate's lazy slant-route in the second overtime killed the Irish, though the game was lost long before the extra sessions.
  • A huge fumble by Allen in regulation. Thankfully the junior was taken off the hook by a missed field goal in regulation. Allen made himself into a legitimate college starter this season and should have an even better season in 2010.
  • Clutch performance by kicker David Ruffer.

Final Score: UConn 33 ND 30

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