After watching the ND vs. Purdue game, my fear/paranoia level has dropped dramatically. Here's some scouting notes:
The strength of their team is the running back position. The wide receivers are serviceable, but Crist as a first year starter doesn't look ready to take advantage of their ability yet.
#5 Armando Allen is their most experienced RB. He's their best pass blocker and does just about everything pretty decently.
#20 Wood, dynamic, shifty runner. Reminds me of vincent smith. Doesn't have great hands, not as big of a threat in the passing game. Usually gets pulled for allen on third down.
#9 Rudolph, looks to have put on some bulk from last year. But by the same token, seems to have lost some speed. Soft hands, makes for a good possession receiver from 5-10 yards. ND likes to use him on drags over the middle and outs and ins from an 'extended' TE position
#3 Floyd. Still big, still fast, still got great jumping ability. Unfortunately for him, Crist doesn't seem able to hit him on a fly. Twice they tried a double move, with crist missing badly. Somethings not right with their timing. But he's a huge threat on deep hooks and other sit down routes against a zone.
Kamara something duvall something. Lanky kid, seemed serviceable. Could cause mismatches against shorter db's.
Crist, He's a big athletic pro style QB. Sucks for him that he's running a spread option. He doesn't really have a feel for reading the DE. He's got good speed once he knows where he wants to go, but he's not shifty by any means. He's much closer in ability to Steven Threet than Tate Forcier when it comes to running.
Big strong arm. But it's surprising that he doesn't have better touch on the long balls for being a pocket passer. Perhaps it was just first game jitters.
The interior linemen seemed ok. But again the problem is that they're not designed to do what the offense is trying to do. These are big strong, slow, kids. They get a pretty good push up the middle on running plays. But time and again they missed downfield blocks due to a lack of speed. Craig Roh should have a field day speed rushing around the tackles on either side coming from a 2 point stance. He might get pushed around a bit if he's down in a 3 point stance, however.
The spread that kelly runs is different than ours, but similar enough that our defense should be able to recognize and blow up plays pretty quickly. Plus they won't be going up against denard, so they'll be pretty happy about that. The #1 threat is the running back. Most times on the read option, crist will hand off, since he doesn't read the end well. And ND called many designed runs, even when there was a QB/RB mesh handoff. Their coachers are probably well aware of crist's limitations in the run game.
There were a variety of draws and tricky ways to get the ball to the RB, including our favorite counter draw that saw MSU tear us up a few years back. The RB will line up at a variety of depths when in the shotgun. Sometimes, nearly in a pistol formation. The further back he is, the more likely it will be a run play. If he lines up 3 yards directly to the side of the QB, it's going to be a lateral motion mesh. If he's closer, like 1 yard, then watch out for the counters and traps.
Due to their lack of speed on the OL, they cannot run the wide screens like we can now. Screens will be toward the middle of the field, so it's important that our linebackers pursue inside out and not get too sideways, since they'll be coming back against the grain. Most of their passes were hitches and crosses, square ins. Crist is at his best when he's got a stationary target he can rifle it to.
This is a very different mindset from last year. Gone are the bazillion blitzes. They do look much improved on D, but they were coming from pretty far back, so there's still a lot of weaknesses to attack. (hmmm... that sounds vaguely familiar)
Hard to tell. Big and strong, not so swift. Had a couple sacks where the DLinemen managed to shed a block. But Purdue spent the entire afternoon running bootlegs, so the DL didn't factor in much.
They did this one crazyass play on third down where no one was in a three point stance and all the front seven were bouncing around trying to confuse the pass protection. Purdue promptly ran it for like 20 yards. I doubt we'll see much of that this week.
#5 Teo, the kid from Hawaii, is still their best athlete. He has a good instinct for the game and great speed to get where he wants. But he's usually out of control, relying too much on his athleticism. He doesn't breakdown and make a solid tackle. he's more like a loose missle. He can be juked.
#45 A run stopper. Good straight line speed. Not very fast on the edge. Reminds me of Obi ezeh.
#59? OLB. Smith He's a weak link. Not good at maintaining contain. can be sucked in on reverses and read options. Denard should have a field day running circles around him.
Mostly played off the ball. Were good in run support. Look like they don't have the speed to run with our receivers. ND played a soft zone much of the time. Can be beaten deep.
Hard to tell. Marve didn't throw deep down the middle often since he was always rolling out. These guys were mostly back in a cover two all day.
We match up really well against them. Better than last year even. It looks like their offense is not ready to take advantage of our depleted secondary. I'd have floyd doubled whenever possible, have obi knock rudolph to the ground on every release, and have the rest of the team keying the running backs, or better yet, blitzing into the running backs on passing plays to blow up any draws.
Our dilithium fueled offense, (*now with passing attack!) should be able to put up at 35 on these guys.
It's still ND, at ND, so there's always concerns about shenanigans in their sheleighlies, but on paper we should win this game by a couple of TD's. So of course I expect a wild shootout with us winning by a mere point.
gawd I love college football!
Apologies if this was posted, but here it goes:
The whining can stop (at least for that issue).
(Edit - NINJA-ed)
Playing against a WAC defense must be every OC's wet dream. Nevada's DB's were small, and slow, and timid. ND seemed concerned about Nevada's DE's who managed to make a few plays, and so they ran a lot of screens and draws and even some QB zone read from the wildcat. Nearly every deep pass was off of playaction. The running game looked better than it had in recent memory, but against a pretty soft defense. Most of the runs were off tackle or outside.
QB: Clausen did look pretty sharp. But he's still not very mobile and was taken down by the shoelaces on several occasions. He was making good decisions and was very accurate on the deep balls. Has a good playfake. His confidence seemed pretty high (as it should be vs. last year's 119th ranked pass defense) and was putting the ball on guys even when they were covered. Against our more athletic DB's this should result in more tipped balls and hopefully an interception or two. He was continually throwing high to his taller wideouts and TE's. Lucky for him that his receivers are tall and strong. Cryst looked like a real QB (not some gay balding emu) but very inexperienced. If Clausen goes down, there is a big drop off.
RB: Armando Allen was the featured back, and he has good speed. Likes to cut to the outside. Not a real strong runner and doesn't break very many tackles. Was used in a wildcat formation several times. Jonas Gray (who we remember as the guy that Carr and staff passed over for Mike Cox) has pretty thick legs and good speed. He's more of a straight line runner who can run through arm tackles but doesn't have much wiggle. Their third back Riddick or something showed off some good hurdling ability but not much else.
TE: Rudolph (i think) looks like a good pass catcher who is pretty nimble for being so tall, but he's a bit skinny to be an effective run blocker.
WR: Floyd and Tate are the real deal. Floyd is a bit taller and stronger at 6'4". His two long catches came on a jump ball where he out muscled the defender and kept his feet and the second was on a simple buble screen where tate got a great block and Floyd used his speed around the outside.
OL: This unit was not very exceptional in speed, size, or strength, but they seemed much more technically sound than in the past two years when they couldn't block anyone. They executed pretty well on screens and did a fairly good job of giving clausen time.
Can you say blitz? Can you say blitz 47 times? (estimate). ND's front seven was pretty unexceptional in every way. The only time they looked good was when they brought 6 guys and someone came through unblocked. But that was frequent enough to kill drives after Nevada had marched into ND territory.
This was one of the least impressive shutouts I've ever seen. Nevada missed a FG, had an unforced fumble in the redzone, and pretty much marched up and down the field on ND until something flukey happened to keep the from scoring. It was 28-0 at the half but could have easily been 28-17. ND got some help from its crowd which caused a couple false starts and delays of game once nevada got to the closed ends of the field. The only play that really made you stand up and say "Now that's good D!" was when they got penetration on 4th and inches to stop another scoring threat.
Dline: Nothing to really note here. They didn't fight through blocks very well and were not much of a factor in the game. Nevada's Oline was opening up running seams left and right to the tune of 150+ yards and over a 5 yard per carry average.
LB: Showed good speed on the blitz, and the blitzes came from all over. But they didn't seem very strong or smart. Nevada's QB (who is a pretty good runner, and kind of looks like a cross between vince young and Gumar, but sadly Whitecastle is not in Korea) managed to get away from them several times. Their best player is a true frosh from Hawaii who doesn't start. He has good instincts and brings the hammer, but can probably be tricked into a bad play or two.
DB's: Hard to evaluate here. They seemed to tackle well, but they weren't pushed very hard as Nevada was missing their best receivers from last year and the Nevada QB had a problem with slippery balls (No giggling!) This probably means that the DB's have gotten better since the days of Manningham getting "OH, WIDE OPEN!". Not being mentioned much is a vast improvement over the toastings they used to get with regularity. But, with so much blitzing it was strange to see the DB's playing so far back at the snap.
ND definitely looks better, but they're vulnerable on both sides of the ball. I like the way we match up with them. We seem to have faster and stronger athletes along both lines. And with home field advantage and barring any major injuries we should be able to answer anything they throw at us.
When we have the ball:
Our RB's against their front seven looks like a definite advantage for us. We should be able to control the pace of the game with our rushing attack and put together lots of long drives. The key in the passing game will be all about our ability to pick up the blitz. We need a big day from the TE's are RB's and good communication along the line. But I expect our QB's to run for over 100 yards and our RB's to combine for 150. So here's to hoping that Koger, Webb, Brown, Minor, and Grady (24) have a great week of practice.
When they have the ball:
If we can get pressure with our Dline, we should be able to shut down their offense pretty well. Graham and Roh should be able to get around their tackles, and Martin shouldn't have much problem with their centers and guards. Donovan should be glued to Floyd all day and Bouboucar on Tate if he's healthy. Stevie can take their TE. That just leaves our other LB's vs. their RB's on screens and zone options. This looks like a push or a slight ND advantage. The one thing we cannot do is fall for their excellent playaction. We need a big game from our safeties.
I expect we'll be able to move the ball with ease. I'm just not sure how our 3rd, 4th, and 5th DB's will hold up. I expect ND will gain decent yardage on screens and a few runs, but we might give up a huge play every now and then. I think the game will be shortened due to long drives and we'll pull out a squaker in the 34-30 range as we control the clock and their D gets tired.
Or if we can knock out Clausen it'll be 38-0.