While I wasn't watching the Michigan game yesterday, I spent my time watching the ND game. I talked a ND friend who watched the whole ND game, and I thought I'd post some observations from USF-ND.
1. Notre Dame Offense
a. Crist was horrible. He was late on throws and he just wasn’t accurate. His interception was completely on him, the ball was thrown way behind the receiver. He was pulled at halftime. He was 7/15 for 95 yards with 1 pick.
b. Rees was better than Crist, but not that much better. He was 24/34 for 296 yards, with 2 TDs and 2 picks. His 2nd TD came on when the game was pretty much in hand. I’d expect Rees to start next weekend.
c. Cierre Wood (RB) was good. 21 carries for 104 yards, his first time going over 100 yards in 14 games. 3 receptions for 44 yards too.
d. According to my ND friend, Wood’s back up, Jonas Gray, was horrible. Gray’s stats: 4 carries for 17 yards. He also had a fumble on the goal line that went back for 6.
e. ND’s O-line let everything through. ND was only sacked 2 times, but it felt like USF was getting pressure at will. My ND friend said that the left side was good but the right side sucked. Look for blitzes to the right side next week.
f. Michael Floyd was amazing. 12 receptions, 154 yards, 2 TDs. Although the second TD came with the game pretty much in hand. Still that stat line is amazing. He was double covered most of the night too. He’s definitely going to give us trouble next week. Although last year we held him to only 51 yards receiving.
g. TJ Jones (WR) comes in on rotation, TE goes out he comes in. He’s average. Not going to kill us, but you still have to watch out for him.
h. Theo Riddick (WR, PR) sucked at everything. He dropped passes, he muffed punts. I think we’ll see someone else returning punts for ND next week.
i. Eifert (TE) was above average. He dropped some passes, but he had some good catches too. 6 receptions, 93 yards. He’s definitely not Rudolph, but he’s still a threat. I’d say he’s definitely the #2 receiving threat on ND.
2. Notre Dame Defense
a. They had some trouble with BJ Daniels, a mobile QB. There were some times he scrambled 5, 6 yards to pick up the first. If it was Denard scrambling on those plays, he could have easily gone for 20.
b. The zone defense was exploited. There were some holes in the zone. ND friend said it was on the DC, not the players.
c. ND’s run D was nothing special. They only allowed 3.0 yards a carry, and 126 yards rushing but I think if you looked at rushing outside of the red zone, YPC would jump up. It felt like USF was running the ball for 4, 5 yards outside the red zone but once they got in the red zone, they were stopped.
d. The Pass D couldn’t stop the out routes. USF had their way with ND on out routes.
e. The Pass D also gave up no long balls, the longest USF reception was 18 yards.
f. My ND friend said that Te’o was the best defensive player, but that he didn’t play very well.
g. My ND friend said the D line was not good enough to stop the run until they got to the goal line, and on passing downs they didn’t get much penetration.
3. Notre Dame Special Teams
a. Missed a 30 yard field goal. Their kicker was 18 of 19 last year, so I expect that it was the weather. I’m betting he’ll be better next week.
b. The punting was terrible. The kicker average 34 yards on the night, but he had a couple of punts around 23 yards each.
c. The punt returning was not good. 2 punt returns, 2 muffed punts. One was lost, the other recovered for negative yards. Like I said, I expect them to have a different PR next week.
d. KRs nothing special. Return of about 25 yards each time.
e. KR and PR coverage was decent. No big plays, but no bad plays either.
4. Notre Dame Problems
a. ND friend said offense moved well with Cierre Wood in, and when passes weren’t dropped. The turnovers, 5 of them, killed the offense and lost the game.
b. The defense was not as good as last year. Out routes killed them. Holes in zone exploited.
c. The biggest problem was the turnovers. They gave the USF offense great field position. ND had almost double the yardage of USF, but that was because USF probably started close to the 50 yard line most of the time.
d. Penalties. 8 penalties for 73 yards. And they were bad, really stupid penalties too. Pass interference and late hits.
5. Brian Kelly is a major douche bag.
a. I know this was already covered earlier, but damn! Before I hated Brian Kelly because he was ND’s coach, now I hate Brian Kelly because he’s Brian Kelly.
b. My ND friend refuses to see it though, I tried everything to show him the light, but to no avail.
c. Him being an asshole like that is going to come back and bite him in the ass.
d. I really like this line from MGoBlog user Yeoman, ”…but I think the fundamental difference is that when Bo yelled at you it was because you'd let down your teammates. When Kelly yells it's because you've let down Brian Kelly.”
6. My ND friend on Damefan’s blog: “This shit is weird.”
I think that covers most of it. The players on ND's offense to watch for next week are definitely Michael Floyd and Cierre Wood. On ND' s defense, Manti Te'o. If you disagree with something, if I'm wrong about something, or if I missed something let me know so I can fix it or add it.
I think UTL will be a close game, but I think that we'll win. We'll see a lot of blitzes to the right of ND's line, and most of their yards will come from the air. I think we'll be able to run it fairly well and that Denard will be able to get some long scrambles on both broken plays and designed plays. A significant amount of our yards will come from the air, if I had to guess.
I called USF to beat ND, and I'm calling their final record to be 8-4. I'm predicting us to go 10-2, for what it's worth.
Edit: Sorry for the crappy indentation. When I go to fix it, everything is still properly indented.
USF 23, ND 20
Edit: They finished the game up on Versus, not NBC...hope nobody who wanted to watch missed out.
Link (albeit biased): http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/25889627/ns/sports-notre_dame_central/
I thoroughly believe that whichever quarterback learns the read option first and can run it to near perfection first will be the starting quarterback in years to come. It is the basic running play of our offense. I don't care if that player is Tate Forcier, Devin Gardner, or Nick Sheridan; if that quarterback can run the read option so we are getting 4+ yards just about every time, they will be the starter.
I think we all know that neither of our freshmen quarterbacks has been able to make the reads quick enough to run the play yet. Is this because they haven't had enough time to practice it yet? Maybe. However, I think the bigger issue is the ability to execute a fake hand off. A good fake hand off does two things: it forces the DE to make a decision to go after the running back or the quarterback instead of sitting in a comfortable spot to stop either outcome and it gives the quarterback an extra split second to read that DE.
To illustrate this, I have compiled several Picture Pages for different read options from different teams around the country. Several things to keep in mind:
- These are to illustrate why the fake hand off is important...not the read option itself
- Because of this, these are all QB keepers
- These plays are not identical; will, therefore, not have the same results; and are not intended to be directly compared with the results of our play.
- These are to illustrate why the fake hand off is important
Also, all of these images, aside from the Michigan vs. EMU game, were taken from ESPN360 or YouTube videos so they aren't perfect quality, but they still get the point across. I will try to post video for some of these later.
Illinois vs. MichiganIllinois ran the read option perfectly on the first drive against Michigan. The net result was a 27 yard gain.
As you can see they have a RB on either side of Juice Williams, two WRs up top, and a TE outside the LT. It is important to note where that the backfield is lined up around the 12 yard line.
After the play starts, the RB runs behind Juice as he begins the fake hand off to the left RB. The OL blocks right and the TE goes out for a pass leaving Brandon Graham to defend as the unblocked DE. Donovan Warren begins his coverage of the TE, but keeps his eyes on the exchange.
You can see that Juice still has his hands in the RBs gut. They are a full yard ahead of where they started the play at. Brandon Graham is forced to choose which to go for and he picks the running back. Donovan Warren has moved down field in coverage but still is keeping his eyes on the exchange. Jonas Mouton has started to move inside to go after the RB.
Juice pulls the ball and he is already 2 yards up field from where he started the play. Brandon Graham is out of position for the play. Donovan Warren is 10 yards up field from Juice. Mouton is still in position to make a play but...
The LT is able to get a block on Mouton and Juice is to the LOS with lots of field in front of him. Donovan Warren has come back to make the play, but he has to guard against the option.
Donovan Warren correctly plays contain and takes away the option, which springs Juice into the open field, at which point it is a foot race. He is forced out of bounds after going 27 yards on the carry.
Had the option not been in this play and all other things being held equal, Donovan Warren would most likely have tackled Juice after a gain of about 5 yards, which is what you hope for every time this play is run.
Michigan vs. EMUI looked through a couple of drives for Michigan in the Illinois game and I couldn't find a traditional read option play. I am convinced at this point in the season that the coaches have removed this responsibility from the QBs and will look to install it again next year. I did see a fake hand off, but the line moved with the quarterback keeper instead of the hand off, which tells me that this is not what I am looking for.
So to get a good example, I went back to the last game that I downloaded: the EMU game.
This is our traditional 4-wide read option. Tate is lined up at the 48.5 yard line.
Tate pivots on his right foot and fakes the hand off. The ball never even makes it to the gut of the RB; he essentially just taps the ball to the side of the RB and then keeps. The DE is going for the RB right off the bat (so maybe this isn't the perfect example, but just wait).
The OLB sees Tate keep the ball and breaks to the outside. This doesn't allow our RT to seal him to the inside, which would allow Forcier to break free.
Instead what happens is Tate has to cut back to the inside. If he is able to get by this block, he is open for a first down, but the OLB gets a shoestring tackle and Tate goes down for a small gain.
Now that we have seen the good and bad of what I am referring to, let's take a look at some more examples of good fake hand offs from teams around the country.
WVU vs. USF
Notice that Brown, WVU's new QB, is lined up around the 29 with 4-wide Trips right.
Before the snap, a WR goes in motion for the end around. You can hardly tell, but the ball is in mid-air at this point.
Brown's right foot makes it up to the 27 yard line before he pulls the ball. The DE bites on the fake and rushes in for the RB. The LBs are starting to come in to stop the dive as well. The safety is starting to come in for run support, but he is far enough out that the fake actually puts him in better position to make the play. Meanwhile, the end around and fake are forming into a nice option as well.
Brown makes it to the LOS and the safety has a nice contain on him. He pulls up and begins the pitch to the WR.
The WR has a block down field and all of the other players are now out of position to tackle him. The blocked CB ends up forcing him inside and tackling him to save the TD, only after he gets a first down though.
Had Brown not had the second option to pitch the ball, he most likely would have headed for the sideline and been out after 4-8 yards.
Same game, other team:
BJ Daniels is at the 37 yard line. It is hard to tell but the ball has just reached his hands.
You can see that BJ Daniels is two yards ahead of where he took the snap from before he pulls the ball. The WVU LBs bite on the fake even though they see this every day in practice.
BJ Daniels gets into open space with no one left to defend him other than the safety 8 yards up field. Chalk this one up as another big gain.
Oregon vs. CalThis will be the last one. I tried to find some footage of Tim Tebow's fake, but I couldn't find any and I am sure all of you have seen enough of him anyway.
Here, Masoli is lined up around the 14 yard line with the RB about a yard behind him on his left, trips right, and the TE lined up outside the LT.
Masoli pulls the ball about a yard and a half ahead of where he took the snap from. The DE is waiting for the play to develop.
Masoli gets outside of the DE and is tackled by the safety for a 4-5 yard gain.
This is what the average play should look like when the Defense reads the play properly and is in position. The other plays are what happen when one person on defense makes a mistake. The one thing that all of the plays from other teams have in common is a great fake hand off. The QB needs to sell the DE to get him to bite on the play and/or give himself enough time to make the correct read.
Like I said, I think the Michigan QB who is able to do this the best will be our starter. From what I have seen so far, Tate is on his way to being able to make these reads, but he lacks the ability to sell the fake. If he can do this, I think he will continue to be our starter. However, if Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner can learn this before him, I don't know if a Big10 defense will be able to continuously stop this especially with their speed and play-making abilities.
They aren't as big of a program so it hasn't gotten as much coverage, but Brian had alluded to USF's oversigning in the past. It seems as though they are using academics as a way to get rid of players from their 29 man class.
Even though the players get through the NCAA clearinghouse and are told everything is ok, they are sent to a review board within USF that ends up denying them.
It's not too big of an issue though because they were given an unconditional release by USF. They've got at least 3 or 4 days until camp begins. I'm guessing this guy lands on his feet.
The Capstone Report apparently keeps tabs on everything Brian writes. They took a shot at him on one of his TSB posts because he made fun of USF, which, I'm pretty sure has nothing to do with Alabama. The reason he drew the ire of Alabama once again? Obviously, for criticizing USF for over signing.
My favorite part:
Because it furthers Cook’s agenda.
Huh? So, Brian's "agenda" is to gather support to convince the NCAA to prevent schools from over signing. That's a bad thing?