Scouting the Notre Dame Offense
This may or may not be a running series based on time constraints and feedback.
Legitimate scouting of an offense should have 2-4 of the most recent games, but only one has been played. Online video sources efficient for scouting purposes are hard to come by, as well. The bitTorrents take 8-10 hours to receive with my computer and NBC.com (which I used) made me want to kill myself. The need to constantly rewind for 5-10 seconds with poor tools is beyond tedious (Tom Hammond didn’t help). TV is also notorious for cutting important information out of the shot and, where this occurred, I didn’t record data.
- If you enjoy this and know a way to get full game video quickly please let me know.
A Few Disclaimers
- The focus was on data and not particular players’ ability. I didn’t watch anything trying to figure out how good a particular player or position group is. Regardless, I picked up some things that I note at the bottom.
- I recorded 56 total plays, stopping when they were up 23-12 and bleeding clock
- I link to my own site to explain some terms utilized.
- Nominal analytical errors certainly exist, but don’t effect points made in a meaningful way.
The Irish never make analytical errors
2010 Notre Dame Offense vs. Purdue
By Down and Distance
- On 1st and 10, the Irish were 68% run, 32% pass. On all other downs they were 21% run, 79% pass
- On 3rd and 2+, they were 90% 5 Step
- Overall 45% Run, 55% Pass, but you can see where the runs come from
By Field Zone
- Unsurprisingly, the Irish are more conservative inside their own 20. In 5 plays they relied on Power, Play Action, and a Jailbreak screen
- No other meaningful tendencies solely by field position
By Personnel, Backfield, and Formation
(A quick note on Personnel: Rudolph moves around a lot between TE and receiver. I used whichever position he actually lined up in, rather than identifying him as a TE every play.)
- ND most popular backfield is Empty, using 00 Personnel. In 13 plays they used a version of the Trips Open formation (3 x 2) 12 times and Quads Open (4 x 1) once. All plays were 5 Step except one, where they faked a sweep to a player in motion and ran Crist unsuccessfully on a Power.
- In 10 Personnel ND uses a formation I call Detroit. Because the play concepts are similar regardless of backfield, I combined instances of the Gun Near and Gun Far backfields for 14 total plays. 9 were 5 Step, followed by Draws (2), Play Action, Trap, and Inside Zone (1 each).
- From here, things get more interesting. Again in 10 Personnel, ND used Gun Near Trips Open 9 times, 8 of which were runs (6 different zone plays, a Power, and a Draw). When the #3 receiver lines up as a true slot (1 x 1 off the OT, always Rudolph) ND called 4 runs to the weakside and nothing else. Those plays netted 16, 13, 15, and 13 yards, respectively. This could have been solely to exploit a defender or the scheme, but a major tendency nonetheless.
- When the Irish go to 11 Personnel they lined up in Trey Open (Gun Near and Gun Far) for 11 of 12 plays. 9 runs, 3 passes. Runs were balanced between strong/weak.
- The obvious: they throw a lot of 5 step (27 of 56 plays)
- Most popular runs: Power (8), Inside Zone (5), Draw (3), Read Zone (3)
By Passing Zone and vs. Blitz
- Crist threw to the strong or weak curl zone 13 times.
- Of the 7 passes he threw over 15 yards, 2 were complete (+21, +19) and one was called for defensive PI.
- Purdue only blitzed 3 times before the score was 20-3. The Irish handled it at that time (+5, +12, +7). After, Purdue blitzed 8 times netting 2 sacks, 3 incompletions, 1 scramble (for 0 yards), and a safety on a run play. Against the late blitzes, the Irish succeeded once on an Inside Zone run (+18).
- Crist is not a great run threat, but like any QB he can scramble for yards in a pinch
- Floyd will be moved around as necessary to create favorable matchups
- Rudolph, though utilized often, is not a great receiver in terms of measurables. His routes are about as round as a circle and he’s not fast. I didn't see what the hype is about. In the Empty set, ND put him in the weak slot a couple times, had the 3 strong receivers clearout that side and dragged him across for easy yardage. They also hit him 3 times in the weak curl zone for +8, +9, +9.
- Crist audibled into a counter weak for ND’s first TD (+22).
- ND pulls their center or backside tackle often to lead through the hole rather than the backside guard. (Those are some of the plays I labeled Power. Some may disagree with that name, but the concept is the same.)
- Purdue plays a 4-3 and was happy to sit in Cover 2 for almost 50% of all plays. Often a nickel back was in the game replacing the Sam, but serving the same function. The safeties sat at 10-12 pre-snap and weren’t going to let anything over their heads.
- It’s impossible to know how much of ND’s offense is “what they want to do offensively” vs. “what Purdue was allowing.” Michigan played a lot of Cover 3 last week. Based on the the ND scheme and what happened vs. Purdue I’d guess M plays much more Cover 2, Cover 4, Cover 6, and rolls to Cover 3 more often, if employed, to give Crist a different look. I’d also expect M to pressure or show pressure more often than Purdue did, based on how Crist performed against it.
- I didn’t pay too much attention to the RBs because I focused on data, but they are legit. I’m sure Brian will have plenty on them.
- If someone wants my chart, I can try to find a way to put it up.