How bad was Charlie's end-game strategy?

Submitted by MGoTarHeel on September 13th, 2009 at 10:37 AM

I've read a lot this morning about Nom-Nom's decision to make two passes instead of running to burn clock, both in game recaps and and schadenfreude-tastic ND message boards.

I can't really tell though. Yes, technically, I suppose that it was the wrong "football decision", especially in hindsight, but think about the situation. Their passing game had completely shredded our defense at will all night with an 8.0 YPA. With how they had played they should have been able to hit on passes to keep the drive going, and Weis thought he could trust that. I will forever thank his greed in wanting to "put the game away" with another score, but I was a lot more worried when I saw him decide to throw than when I initially thought "Okay, three short runs, clock burned down to 1:30 or so, we've got time."




September 13th, 2009 at 11:44 AM ^

at about the same yardline with about the same time left. Only Colorado had no time outs.

Predictably, Moeller ran three times. Burned the clock down to about 20 seconds. Didn't make the first down. Punted. We all know what happened next.

There is no strategy that works all the time. If we had burned our timeouts, we still would have had two minutes left at our ~40. That's not exactly "in the bag" for any team up only three points.

The receiver was wide open on third down. Clausen & #11 just didn't connect. Charlie played to win. I think it was a reasonable choice among his options, none of which were guaranteed to win

How many here used to complain about LloydBall?


September 13th, 2009 at 1:00 PM ^

Despite what happened in the end, I can't criticize Moeller for running the ball there. Given that CU had no timeouts, it was absolutely the percentage play. It's when the other team has timeouts that it becomes more debatable.

For one thing, we actually gained more than 10 yards on our three rushes against Colorado, but a false start penalty forced us to punt. Without that penalty the game should've ended with us having the ball.

Second, even after we punted, Colorado had the ball on its 15 with 15 seconds left. Our running the ball left them in a position in which they needed a miracle to score. Unfortunately for us, they got it, but it was a one-in-a-million thing. To say that it was bad strategy to run there is like saying that we shouldn't attempt field goals because in the 2001 Washington game, we had one blocked for a TD.

It's apples and oranges.


September 13th, 2009 at 10:40 AM ^

The run. Like you said football "rules" says it was the incorrect thing to do but Allen was hurt too so I don't know.

All in all it wasn't terrible and I might have to say that they were open and it was the right cAll


September 13th, 2009 at 10:44 AM ^

I think his decision to pass on 2nd and 10 was not a poor choice, but the pass on 3rd and 10 was. As Michigan fans we are very familiar with the awfulness that can ensue when trying to waste the clock, but that's usually been trying to kill the clock the enitre 4th quarter. With just over two minutes left and hovering around the 50 yard, forcing us to use our timeouts and then punting would've set us up with poor field position, not much time, and no choice but to pass the whole way. Poor choice on Weis' part and I think it may be the second/third to last straw - another loss like this and/or a mediocre season should force the ND AD's hand.


September 13th, 2009 at 11:28 AM ^

When you look at the numbers and the excuse that they completed that pass all day is ridiculous.

Clausen completed a lower percentage of passes than Tate.

But when you pass on 2nd down and throw and incomplete pass you FORCE yourself to pass in order to take the game. You have a tie in hand and you make the other team beat you at that point. If we get the ball back with no TO's we are screwed going down the field.

.........Not even considering that a pass could be picked with 8 guys in the box and a lot of congestion on a crossing pattern. I disagree with call under any circumstances.

The one weakness I see in 2 years with our offense is that when we run hurryup we aren't that hurried up. We needed every second and both the TOs


September 13th, 2009 at 11:33 AM ^

Clauson threw passes to two open receivers near the sideline who started out with one-on-one coverage. The first pass was dropped, the second was a bad throw, but no where near a DB. In those situations, the likelihood of an interception is about as likely as a fumble when running the ball. Furthermore, running the ball would not have clinched the game. A completed pass would.


September 13th, 2009 at 10:46 AM ^

I thought Charlie called a fantastic game up until their final possession and even then you could make a case for the 2nd down pass being an okay decision. It's not like their defense was shutting down our offense.

Magnum P.I.

September 13th, 2009 at 10:54 AM ^

As soon as Michael Floyd left the game, I was no longer fearful of ND's deep passing attack. We put Warren on Tate, which is a matchup win for us, and that changed everything. Comparing their deep passing threat on that last drive to all previous drives where Floyd was in the game is useless. And Weiss STILL tried to take a big shot downfield when he could have really killed our chances at getting a TD (versus a FG) by running the ball on 2nd and 3rd down. If Floyd were still in the game, I could understand taking a shot on 2nd. But the situation being what it was, Weiss made an awful decision that, I think, cost his team a win or shot at OT.

Another way to look at it is that Weiss's decisions were predetermined as per the destiny of Tate Forcier. The gods willed it that Tate would lead the game-winning drive. And the universe was happy.


September 13th, 2009 at 10:55 AM ^

What do people at ND see in that guy? He has had top recruiting classes and continues to under achieve. Maybe his super bowl ring has magic powers or something.


September 13th, 2009 at 10:56 AM ^

I was disappointed with those plays when watching it live. Allen went out 2 plays before after rolling his ankle, Hughes was not going to get us the 10 yards we needed. So Weis went deep on the 2nd down play which did a great job of setting up the 3rd down pass (which had been very successful all game till this point) and the receivers and QB were out of sync.

We make the pass the clock is under 2mins and it's over. Weis was going for the win, I can't fault him for that.

Magnum P.I.

September 13th, 2009 at 11:14 AM ^

I still don't think they should have taken such a high risk attempt there on 2nd down. I'm all for going for the win, but Tate hadn't had a lot of success against Warren on the deep ball today. If Floyd were in the game, the decision would have been more defensible. Floyd is clearly the better of the two in that situation.

Crime Reporter

September 13th, 2009 at 11:22 AM ^

I was really impressed with how Allen ran the ball for you guys. I must admit, going into the game, I didn't think you would be able to run the ball, as ND hasn't had a dangerous rushing attack in years. He did a good job, and in reference to that second down bomb on your last drive, I about shit my pants. I liked the play call and my heart skipped a beat while it was in the air. Very good game. Your team is very good.


September 13th, 2009 at 10:59 AM ^

I thought the 2 and 10 decision wasn't an awful one, especially considering he hates UM and wants to see them embarrassed as much as possible. However, on 3 and 10, I honestly felt that they should have tried a screen; it eats a bunch of time off the clock, even if you don't make a first down, and we were obviously going to pin our ears back and get after Clausen, the ideal position for a screen. And on top of that, when we were blitzing in the first half, it was working really well. We just stopped blitzing as much in the 2nd half, meaning that it wasn't working as well, but it could have been brought out for this situation.


September 13th, 2009 at 11:01 AM ^

The second down call might be questioned, but the third shouldn't. They needed the first down more than they needed us to burn a TO there. And, more importantly, it was open.

As to the second, if the tables were turned and that was us, I wouldn't mind Coach Rod making that call. I wouldn't love it, but I don't think it cost them the game. And if it hit, that's game over (and it had hit ALL game). I don't think Weis has a history of great coaching maneuvers, and has failed miserably in providing his "decided schematic advantage", but I thought he called a pretty damn good game yesterday.

MMB 82

September 13th, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

....from here on out. Let 'em go 9-3 and lose a BCS bowl, good enough to keep Weis in the driver's seat through the end of his contract. Glancing over at the ND boards, many are ready to run him out of town and think Urban Meyer is the heir apparent. Not that this would happen, but why even give them the chance?


September 13th, 2009 at 11:05 AM ^

would have kept the clock running, would almost certainly have worked for some nice yardage.

I didnt realize at the time that both Allen and Floyd were off the field.


September 13th, 2009 at 11:10 AM ^

I'm not even granting them the 2nd and 10. So they passed because that's what was working all day. Well for fuck's sake man....Armando Allen had 139 yards on 6.6 per carry. That was working pretty damn well too. Look at it this way:

- If you pass and it works - you get first downs and maybe a score.

- If you run and it works - you get first downs and you don't need the score.

- If you run and it doesn't work - you burn up a little more time and all of our timeouts.

- If you pass and it doesn't work: 38-34, bitches.

Stupid stupid stupid stupid decisions. Weis's arrogance cost him. He's rightfully under the microscope in the eyes of a lot of Domers these days.


September 13th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

i don't fault weiss for calling a pass play. however, at that point in the game, a first down is all ND needs to ice the game. so why throw a 50 yd bomb??? it has they same impact as a 10 yd out route. but which is more likely to be completed? ask yourself.

it seems to me that the arrogant weiss was trying to actually score another TD, so the game wouldn't appear as close as it was. and he failed miserably.

thank you many times over charlie.



September 13th, 2009 at 11:16 AM ^

Weis coaches and talks like he's got something to prove, but I think it's because he's never proven himself as a head coach. I think that he went for it on 2 and 10 because he's arrogant, but also because it wasn't a bad call. It's also not Weis' fault that the pass was short and he still almost caught it (although Warren almost caught it too). If he connects on that pass, game is probably over. Still, I'm so glad for us that it worked out that way.

Don't forget, people would be second guessing RR's decision to go for it so many times in field goal range (especially inside the 20) if Tate had been sacked or thrown a pick in the last few drives. Most coaches go for the tie at home, so I'm impressed that RR was so ballsy to believe in the true freshman at a time when the easiest move would have been to center the ball on the field and take the kick (it's also what many people admired about Les Miles a few seasons ago when they won the NC).


September 13th, 2009 at 11:17 AM ^

I think it's less that Captain Butt Front called for passes than the kind of passes he called for. I think he wanted to prove his genius by having a "sportscenter" moment by hitting that last bomb. If you have to pass, do something with a higher probability of completion. I believe his ego got in the way.

That is an extremely low percentage play (although if it's intercepted not so bad 40 yards down field) BTW they had been killing us with the run even when we had the line stacked. Even if we had stuffed the run your chances of winning by running three times are better. Just plan bad clock management.

I don't think Jabba did a bad job but I do think he was out coached in the second half (especially coming out of the half). You could see that offensively they were dominating us at the line of scrimmage and we still won.

True Blue Crew

September 13th, 2009 at 11:26 AM ^

I don't think it was the calls that were bad I think it was Clausens decision to go with the deep receiver. Look at how they dinked and dunked us all day for the 10 - 12 yard pass... Why the hell didn't he just do that considering we were playing 15 - 20 yards off the ND receivers. I don't know that I blame Charlie for that one. Take a look at the balding man behind center... Gotta be some blame there too! GO BLUE!

Brother Mouzone

September 13th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

I am happy about how well OUR coaches prepared our players called the game today.

Hope Charlie gets a ten year extension.

Notre Dame is a GREAT football program. He limits their opportunites for success as much as our staff maximizes our opportunities.

We have a coaching advantage against most of our opponents for the first time in a long time


September 13th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

"Tate dropping 2 TD passes was just baffling, I mean it just doesn't happen by either him or Floyd. Just another example of how the offense didn't execute"

But in the end those drops did not matter as Tate went on to catch a TD pass that drive. Also, Weis' call on third down late in the game was a good call, it just was not executed by Clausen and Evans. Hopefully Michael Floyd can get healthy soon so Notre Dame can win 9 or 10 games and make this victory mean something.


September 13th, 2009 at 12:04 PM ^

Now, must I get all mom and dad on your fool ass and suggest that no good comes of ridiculing people because of their weight and/or appearance. Enjoy the sweet victory.


September 13th, 2009 at 12:50 PM ^

I thought the 3rd-down call was defensible. It was 3rd and 10 and they weren't likely to pick up the first on the ground (especially with Allen having left with an injury), so they called that sideline route that killed us all day. Cissoko gave a huge cushion and wasn't in position to break up a pass if it had been on target. The one big error there was having a true freshman WR run it. It looked like he didn't know where to break.

The 2nd-down call was unquestionably bad, though. If you're going to throw the ball, why throw a 40-yard bomb, and against our best corner (Warren), no less? That was dumb. A low-percentage play in which the most likely outcome was no gain and a stoppage of the clock.


September 13th, 2009 at 10:45 PM ^

As a coach (and one very involved in the play calling on our offense at a 4A Texas HS) I have feelings both ways on the last few plays Charlie called. I would have called for the run on 2nd down to force the timeout to be called leaving M with one. Of course the outcome from that play is fantasy, but let's say it leaves us with 3rd and 4. At this point I have to have confidence in my offense to execute. I would make sure that my QB knew that his 1st read was the deep ball (for the win) but that it was a look and check situation (meaning you look for wide open, then check down) and I have a dig on the front side, with a void and post on the backside to give my QB checkdown options for the first down. The thing is (to our ultimate advantage) Clausen is the type of QB at this point in his career that is almost always going to try and hit the long ball when it is an option in the play call. This is a direct relationship with Weis's philosophy of going deep whenever possible. With their QB and WR's, this is a great philosophy to have, but a comeback or post or something along those lines is a better call there (and yes I know they ran a comeback route on 3rd down but running it to a kid that hasn't been in all day isn't smart). Glad it worked out in our favor and good to see us in the top 25 again. Go Blue!