Great dramatic game. Glad we won. Here's some final thoughts on the game:
I was right about a lot of things, and wrong about a few things in my scouting report.
ND doesn't have the right linemen for their offensive scheme yet
ND WR merely serviceable due to inexperienced QB play
Crist overthrows on the fly (except for one major exception!)
Te'o was a beast
Roh was a beast
Allen was very dangerous
Lots of tricky ways to get the RB the ball (shovel pass, counter draw, shotgun quickpitch)
Wood muffed a kickoff (just like last week) and didn't factor into the passing game.
ND corners good on run support
ND outside backers lost contain
Our D reacted well to familiar plays they see in practice.
Weird things happen in south bend (phantom TD that should have been a touchback)
We won a shootout (not really THAT many points, but lots of yards by both teams), by a close margin (not exactly one point)
Crist is a much better athlete than given credit for as shown by his first TD scramble that was called back on a penalty. Had one good read on the option.
Rudolph was not slow (at least in a straight line)
Te'o didn't miss many tackles (except on Denard, but that was due to speed, not jukes)
ND corners were not burnt deep. We didn't really try any one on one matchups, because that's the way our scheme was for this game. They did play soft giving us lots of 8 yard comeback routes. But our big pass plays came on busted coverages and playaction suck-ins, not speed on toast.
Crist missing half the game. As big as he is, didn't think he'd get dinged up.
With Crist out, ND pretty much ditched the spread for a while and went to more under center power formations.
ND's D-line was much better than anticipated.
Our secondary played much better than expected! (but that's not saying much)
Our WR did a great job of holding onto the ball even when taking big hits.
We are making up for last year in the turnover battle.
I never thought that any ND coach could be as amusing as Jabba the Weis, but Brian Kelly's facial expressions were priceless.
And now for the fun stuff
If it was a scripted hug, RR wasn't in on it. Don't know what got to Tate, but whatever it was, I'm glad it happened.
Slow Linemen take away a big chunk of the "spread" playbook
Here's ND's first attempt at a wide screen. Notice that 4 of the offensive linemen aren't even getting to the play, and the fifth is taking his defender with him.
This leaves one defender completely unblocked. Combine that with Rudolph being a better receiver than blocker and you get massive fail. The whole point of a screen is to get your linemen down field to block the 2nd and 3rd levels. But ND's linemen are still too slow for that.
So later in the game, instead of running the bubble screen like you should to the sideline, ND calls for the middle screen.
But we're running a zone blitz (disguised nicely) and Herron bats the ball.
The wide screen would have prevented the batted ball because of the angle created. But when you don't have the right personnel to get down field...
Our Defense blew up some familiar plays
When you see a play over and over again in practice, the reads become reflexive and it's easier to defend. Here's a sweep play that could have gotten big yards for ND.
They pull two o-linemen around the outside, so we should be outmanned on the corner.
Roh does a good job of holding his ground making it a longer way to go. Then Floyd? who is playing rolled up, makes an excellent play by taking on the lead blocker. Our middle backers see the pulling action and flow instinctively with the ball carrier.
But what really blows up the play is Ezeh getting on his horse and flying through the gap before Allen can get to the edge. If he's a step slower, then the play gains at least 10 yards down the sideline, and maybe goes all the way. But because of the quick recognition, it results in a TFL.
Here's a play that shows what a beast Roh is turning into.
It's just a simple base zone read option, but the QB isn't making a read on the play because he's too inexperienced. There's no way he should have handed off the ball. Keeping it or throwing the flare would both have been better options. But check out Roh!
He fights through a double team to make a TFL.
And he was being held!
Roh did get pancaked once when he did a spin move right into one of the hulking guards, and he missed a couple of tackles, but he was in the backfield most of the day.
Speaking of Beasts. There's this kid, maybe you've heard of him, called Denard. People say he's fast. Errrrmmm... yeah. So what does speed do to a defender?
It makes them look stupid! Check out the angle the ND OLB has to take to account for warp drive. And
Too bad for them that Denard doesn't run in straight lines
WOW! Just a nice little 30 yard gain, when there was a completely unblocked defender.
But what's the difference between a nice gain and a homerun?
Answer: DOWNFIELD BLOCKING! On the 87 yard TD, there was just great downfield cut blocks.
And He can pooch punt!
You da man!
I thought we did a really nice job containing him. But he showed flashes. Here's a play were Mouton was a step slow to react or didn't read the pre-snap alignment.
Allen lines up a half yard behind the QB signaling either pass or inside run.
The left guard pulls but Mouton doesn't immediately recognize it. (he had a very nice day, just a little slow on this one play)
ND does a very good job of holding. But on this instance it didn't affect the play, so I don't care. Mouton still has a chance to make the tackle,
but Allen has enough ball skills to get by him and pick up a nice gain.
On the next play he made 3 people miss with a jump cut and a spin, and then he ran over Cam Gordon, causing the announcer to repeat his favorite "Quick Twitch" line.
He really got things going in the second half, nearly breaking one for the distance on a shotgun quickpitch.
We can has functional DB's?
JT Floyd got an INT when Montana misread the coverage, which like, WOOOOOO!!!!!
Don't you just love Frosh QB's? I mean, when they play AGAINST us, not FOR us.
The Kid from Hawaii
Teo was a beast for ND all day long. Here's an example of him reading the screen and just flying to Shaw almost before the ball can get there.
Teo pretty much single-handedly destoryed our screen game.
My name is JONAS!
Jonas Mouton had a pretty good game. Here he is against that same play as before.
Ezeh was faking a blitz before the snap, but you get virtually the same action.
Mike Martin takes on the double team, preventing the center from getting to the second level. Mouton fills the hole and hits Allen head on before he gets a chance to even make a move.
And Kovacs was there to clean up, since at that point we had 8 in the box against the ineffective Montana.
Mouton's pass drops look to be much improved. He got the INT on the flea flicker, and he tipped the ball to Kovacs after our first missed FG attempt. He also layed some lumber on a number of hits. Not perfect, but much improved from last year. I credit GERG!
ND's D-Line was pretty strong
At least when Denard wasn't making them look silly. I think Molk was having trouble with the size of and strength of the ND nosetackle. Here he is getting pushed back in a short yardage situation.
He almost gets pushed all the way back into Vincent, but the little guy picks up the first down.
Here's another play where Molk (who is a pretty darn good lineman) had trouble with the nosetackle.
It's a QB sweep to the left. And it looks pretty well blocked.
But the playside guard didn't get enough of a chip on the nosetackle as he released to get on Teo.
And Molk can't keep him engaged enough.
Their D-Line play probably explains why the other running backs couldn't do much. Here's Shaw making a bad read on an earlier zone dive.
First off, Denard should have thrown the flare, since Teo was playing run all the way. But it might have been a called run, not an option since there's no double team.
Our left tackle has given up inside leverage, but for some reason Shaw cuts left, instead of to the right.
On this play, Patrick actually gets a good drive block opening up a lane, but to no avail.
Kinda hard to blame kelly for losing that game, but ND fans did anyway. Sure he did Weis them at the end of the first half (bwAHahahahah! I love that his name has turned into a verb!) But he's playing with personel (especially linemen) that don't fit his system. And his starting QB missed half the game.
So, what do you do when three different QB's throw interceptions and you end both halves of the game with an uncatchable ball into the cheap seats?
You make faces.
First I was like
Then I was like.
First I was like...
then I was like...
And then I was like....
PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE A GOOD ANIMATED GIF OF THIS! I hate microsoft and can't get moviemaker to import .mp4 files.
The Phantom TD
I'm kinda glad that the refs didn't call Jones on this douchebag move. Not that dropping the ball makes you a douchebag, but dropping it so that you can put your hands up to your ear in a douchebag manner makes you a douchebag. Because if the play had been called CORRECTLY, there would be even MORE whining from the notre lame fans.
Tips for MSU:
Crist holds the ball too long because of inexperience and he's not confident (or accurate) enough to stick the ball into coverage to take advantage of physical mismatches. But he's a good scrambler who looks to make the long pass when coverage breaks down. Probably worth keeping DB's back and giving up some smaller runs by him.
Use combo coverages to always have a man near Floyd and Rudolph. Floyd will get discouraged if he's not a big part of the game. But rolling corners up into the flats worked well for us. We got at least two INTs because of the underneath zone.
Always key on Allen when he's in the game, He's the most dependable part of their offense, and if you can neutralize him, you're really limiting what they can do.
GET A HAT ON TEO! And drive block him. He caused Denard's fumble by coming off of vincent smith's block and pursing from behind. Vincent actually had a decent block oh him, but couldn't sustain it.
With State's power running game, I'd run it right at him! He's super fast, but not as big as some other linebackers.
Slow developing plays and cutesy draws won't work as well against their strong D-Line. And their corners come up well on outside runs. Quick hitting iso's, dives, and inside traps are your best bets. When they start to pinch or go to 8 man fronts, I'd work the veer option on the edge to take advantage of their OLB. (don't know if state has this in their playbook)
Good luck spartans.