Final thoughts on ND

Submitted by drexel on September 18th, 2008 at 12:22 AM

Just to give you some background, I played football through college.  It was div 3, but we had a lot of success, and I learned a lot about the game.  I played wide receiver so I mostly know technique and route combinations.  I don't know as much as a full time coach, but I'll give some of my insights after watching the game again.  Maybe somebody will find it interesting. 

  • I think the illegal chop block was a bad call on our first drive.  Coach Rod said this in his presser, and he was right.  Right after the snap, Molk went for the cut.  Mooseman did not engage the DT, the DT just put one hand on Mooseman's shoulder.  It really should not have been called.
  • I watched Matthew's TD catch about 30 times on my DVR and was lucky enough to pause it right before he hit the ground.  His hand was under the ball, and it was a catch.  It was hard to see on the replay though.  I'm still not surprised the call wasn't reversed.
  • On ND's long TD, Graham may have sacked Clausen if he wasn't getting bear hugged by the TE.  It was pretty obvious holding.  I'm not sure how anybody misses a call like that. 
  • On ND's other long pass play, Warren got smoked at the line.  Tate didn't even give him much of a move, but it put Warren on his heels and allowed him to go open on the slant.  He still caught up to him and slowed him down.  Brown should have made an easy tackle.
  • I didn't think the LB's were very good.  I'm not sure what they were reading, but they bit on several ND counter plays.  They also allowed the lead blocker to get into their body and push them back.  They need to work on keeping the correct shoulder free and shedding those blocks.  Ezeh also has a bad habit of dropping his head and lunging at tackles.  The could be bad news against a back like PJ Hill.
  • I thought the DL actually played pretty well.  They got a pretty consistent push.  When Johnson or Taylor got doubled, they held their ground and freed up the linebackers.  Jamison threw their tackles around like a rag doll.  Van Bergen and Mike Martin are going to be outstanding players for the next couple years.
  • The passing game seems to consist of fader routes, bubble screens, slant bubble combos, and routes to sell four vertical.  On the 4th and 6 after the fake punt, Stonum ran a route where he sold the vertical seem and stopped.  It was like comeback, but to the inside.  I think Matthews was on the other side and ran the same route.  Butler ran a TE delay sit route.  All three of these guys were open, but Threet threw the fade to Odoms.  He thrwos it to anybody else, and its a first down. 
  • On Threet's fumble, Stonum put a nice move on the press corner and was running downfield wide open.  The safety was rolling to the middle of the field to take the place of the safety rolling down.  This was the touchdown Rod was talking about at the presser.  It looked like Threet was rotating the ball to find the laces and just dropped it.  This could have been a huge play.
  • Our receivers do not do a very good job of staying vertical on fade routes.  If you stay vertical, the qb puts the ball over your outside shoulder.  It is very hard to defend this way.  Our receivers seem to fade to the sideline during the route leaving almost no room for a pass.  Maybe they are coaching it differently than what I know, but it looks much harder to complete. 
  • On Sheridan's first interception, he probably sould have thrown the slant to Matthews.  He was open, and I would think the slant would be his first read.  Butler also should have got his head around and caught the ball.
  • On Sheridan's second interception, Babb did not run his seam pattern enough to the inside.  If he takes his pattern closer to the hash or inside the hash, the corner cannot come over and make that interception.  It was also a bad pass, but I don't think the route was run correctly.
  • On our zone running plays, the O-line does a pretty terrible jobs on their cut blocks.  Severa times, it was back side DT's running down the play from behind and making a tackle.  They are lunging on the these blocks instead of getting their head across and driving their shoulder pads through the defender's legs.

Overall, I think we look pretty good going forward.  The O-Line play was much better, but still needs to improve for Big Ten play.  The LB's also need to improve.  Of course thats just my opinion, I could be wrong.



September 18th, 2008 at 12:45 AM ^

I thought ND held quite a bit and it was never called -- particularly on those stretch runs to the left to Hughes. And unlike you, I was certain the Matthews catch would be overruled and called a TD. It seemed pretty clear to me that he had possession and was in bounds.

That whole game was gross from start to finish. Words can't express how much I hate that NBC Notre Dame coverage team and the "aura" they try to create. Why does NBC hire such milquetoasts to do their broadcasts?

I had the game on mute while I watched it. It was surreal watching Charlie Weis go down that way with no sound to give it meaning or drama or clarity. To me it was not in the least bit funny. Just disturbing.


September 18th, 2008 at 9:46 AM ^

I've started muting all the game calls -- the announcers are just a pain: pompous, loud, incessant and just plain wrong. Musberger shouldn't be calling soccer matches in U-8s, the Blackledge/Patrick team are almost as bad. Having watched a few older games, it's clear the announcing game has changed and for the significantly worse.  Man, I do not tune in for the broadcasters, yet they think they are adding to the show.  Less is way more.

The only thing worse, I suppose, is the interruption TV imposes on the game in person -- that is just appalling, but it is a whine for another day.


September 18th, 2008 at 7:15 AM ^

can see when you watch a game over and really analyze every play. In real time everything goes so quick and you really don't notice a lot of things going on in the play. But, when you replay the game and stop, rewind, pause, rewind etc. you can see everything from blocking schemes to route patterns.

 Nice post, agree on all bullet points except for the Sheridan INTs.

     - First INT: I believe he threw this ball to soon and too high, Butler never had a chance.

     - Second INT: Babb might have faded a little to the sidelines but you can't lobb the ball into triple coverage.


September 18th, 2008 at 10:20 AM ^

On the first pick I agree that it was a high throw.  My main point was that I think the first read on that play is the slant to Matthews, and it was open.  I think there may have been a blitz on that play so maybe thats the "hot" read, but I think he should have thrown the slant.  On the second pick, it was a bad throw, but it wasn't really triple coverage.  It looked like man free, and the safety and man on Babb ended up over there after they saw the throw.  It was the guy on Babb that ended up with the INT.  With thwt kind of route, the correct spacing is crucial.  If Babb runs that route inside the hash, he holds the safety and his man to the inside.  Sheridan has to keep those guys to the inside with his eyes as well and make a good throw.  He didn't do either on that play. 

Six Zero

September 18th, 2008 at 8:04 AM ^

Appreciate the effort and research that goes into this kind of post. Well done.

As far as the officiating... Some of you may remember me freaking out about that bad calls in the Aztec-Irish game, and hoping it wasn't the same against us. I too saw quite a bit of home cookin' in that game, most of which was referenced above. Yes, refs are people too and people make mistakes, but weren't the gifts we gave ND enough? As Charlie looks back on the game film, I'm sure he's realizing how little his team actually did to win that game.

chitownblue (not verified)

September 18th, 2008 at 8:37 AM ^

A+. It's good to read insight from someone who has played the game, can explain concepts clearly, and actually has evidence for their assertions. Hopefully, we can hear more throughout the season.

El Wolverino

September 18th, 2008 at 10:03 AM ^

if you had a video description. I'll forever subscribe to your posts and urge you to start a blog.

Right or wrong, the ability to see why a play worked / didn't work / almost worked is what makes people flock MGoBlog. Continue posting.


September 18th, 2008 at 10:24 AM ^

Sure, there were a few key calls that went against Michigan, BUT certainly not enough that it was the deciding factor for the outcome of the game. There's holding in every game. I don't recall ND holding that much, and I was focusing on that pretty keenly when it became apparent we weren't geeting to their QB. And the players and coaching staff didn't complain about holding at all, either during or after the game. If it was egregious and happening repeatedly, you would've heard about it from our guys.
On Tate's 48-yard TD bomb, don't blame that play on holding, blame our FOUR(!) DBs for not being able to cover one fucking guy! That just makes you sound like a whiner, and I don't think you are.
Having said that, I got the feeling the Big East refs were going to make sure the home team stayed in the game and any close call went their way. The same thing probably occurs in our place, too.
What I don NOT believe for one second, however, is that the Irish "shut down" their offense. Michigan was insided their 10-yard line twice and turned the ball over. Michigan was poised to cut the lead to 4 pretty early in the 2nd half. The weather was clearly contributing to fumbles, and that means points can get scored in a hurry. And they're saying that under those circumstance they stopped trying to score? I call bullshit.


September 18th, 2008 at 10:50 AM ^

I wasn't trying to blame the game or that play on the refs.  People were wondering about why we didn't get pressure on Clausen.  On that play, they had max protection with a one man route, and they put two TE on Graham.  He actually had them beat, and then he got bear hugged.  It was the kind of holding that usually gets called.  It still doesn't excuse the blown coverage, but if they don't hold him there, I think he disrupts the play.


September 18th, 2008 at 10:35 AM ^

and an 18-point, lead the Irish DID try to score on a play-action pass into the end-zone on 4th down.


ND was clearly trying to run up the score, but the pass got broken up and intercepted.

In the last 2 blow-out wins by Michigan, our offense did not score a SINGLE POINT in either 4th qtr! That's right, M beat the living shit out of ND quickly, then completely shut down the offense in the 4th quarter.
But Weis? Fakes the run on a play-action pass into the end zone, up 18 with 2 minutes left on 4th down.


I can't believe none of the people on ESPN were talking about that. I'll bet that probably pissed off the M staff, though.


September 18th, 2008 at 3:37 PM ^

Apparently, this is the classy thing to do. The other choice is to go for a field goal. When you are up so much, so late in the game, the "guaranteed" points of a field goal aren't necessary, so the other choice is to leave the offense in there for the experience. Not sure if the play call was classy though.


Not that I think Weis has any class, he is obviously a dick. 


September 18th, 2008 at 10:48 AM ^

This was a very good post. I always like it when people that have played post so i can see if my reactions are right or wrong.

One question: I have heard that S. Brown did not have deep responsibility for the deep ND TD pass and this was corner error. This cannot possibly be right, can it? Brown was the deep safety on a one (or was it 2?) man route...he let the WR go. That can't have been the correct play, right? I thought this was obviously bad coverage by Brown but people are telling me I'm wrong...not to totally exonerate the corner (Trent, I think) but didn't he have safety help coming?


September 18th, 2008 at 5:09 PM ^

Brown was not responsible for the deep route on this play. Trent was supposed to cover deep with Brown watching for it shorther across the middle. You can see Trent bite on Tate's inside fake even though Brown had help there. Tate then goes vertical and Trent is essentially out of the play with Harrison also being out of position imo because of the play fake. That is just what I thought I saw not 100% on any of that.


September 18th, 2008 at 11:15 AM ^

No, if you look at where Brown was positioned at the snap he clearly did not have deep responsibility. He was covering the underneath routes and also spying inside to potentially provide run support on what looked to be a running play.
Trent needed to stay on top, and I have no idea what Harrison was doing.
Brown sucks, but you can't blame him on this play, other than if he was a better QB of the defense, like FS ideally should be, he'd have been yelling at Trent to stay high and make sure he wasn't susceptable to the deep ball.


September 19th, 2008 at 7:34 PM ^

Sometimes an offense just calls the exact right play to beat a defense.  That may have been the case here.  The way I understood how Gsims described that coverage was that Brown did not have a #2 receiver so he has no vertical threat and comes up to rob the middle and provide run support.  Trent has the #1 receiver going to the inside, so he doesn't see a vertical threat either.  So the slant and go wins.  However, if Trent stays over top of the only reciever in the route, he probably breaks up the pass.  If Gsims wants to correct me on this, he is more than welcome.


September 18th, 2008 at 11:26 AM ^

.. for this.
As much as I would have liked for that Matthews TD to stand, it was going to remain as called on the field.
I know you can call holding on every play, but drexel is right there were some egregious non-calls. That's not why UM lost, by any means, but it's still a fact.
Anyway, we all saw the game, and we all know a better team will play next game.


September 18th, 2008 at 11:46 AM ^

I was talking to my friend, who unfortunately is a Notre Dame alum, after the game about the bad officiating.  He obviously had a slightly different opinion on some of the calls but did point out that there was not a single offensive holding penalty called in that game.  Considering you could call holding on every play, there is no way that there was not a single instance of blatant holds that deserved to get called.


September 18th, 2008 at 1:36 PM ^

there were several running plays where i was surprised we didnt get flagged for holding. they were really letting that go all day.

the refs really were atrocious. but that's only part of the story of the game


September 18th, 2008 at 4:28 PM ^

It could have been much worse; the officials weren't from the Sun Belt conference.

I'd probably be more upset about the officiating if we hadn't turned the ball over six times.