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Inside the Play: Notre Dame

The Situation
Thanks to a pair of fumbles giving the Irish offense short fields, Michigan trails Notre Dame 14-0. Now, a particularly questionable pass interference call on Donovan Warren has resulted in an Irish 1st and 10 on Michigan's 48 yard line. Michigan's defense needs a big stop to prevent the Wolverines from being blown out early.

The Personnel and Formation
The Irish line up with only one wide receiver (Golden Tate). They have two tight ends on the right side of the line, and a weak offset I-formation backfield. This is a clear running formation. To counter, Michigan comes out in their base 4-3. Morgan Trent is the corner lined up over Tate, and Donovan Warren is on the other side. Stevie Brown is 8 yards off the line of scrimmage at free safety, and Brandon Harrison is 15 yards deep as the strong safety.

The Play
Jimmy Clausen gives a play-action fake to Robert Hughes on a counter. Notre Dame leaves 9 men in pass protection, which leaves only one receiver running the route. Golden Tate runs a slant-and-go pattern, cutting in before going straight up the field. Clausen heaves the ball towards Tate, who has 2-3 yards on both Morgan Trent and Brandon Harrison. Tate reels in the ball on the 5 yard line, and waltzes into the endzone untouched.

Why it Worked
The blame for this touchdown does not fall on Stevie Brown. Repeat: Stevie Brown is not culpable. He wasn't exactly stellar the rest of the day, but don't rag on the kid for this touchdown. Our good friend GSimmons (a high school DC who runs Shafer's 3-4 Okie package as his base defense and also knows much more about football than I ever will) lets us know that it appears Michigan is running a read-2 defense, which is a form of cover-2-like-substance. Morgan Trent sees Tate head inside, leading him to believe that Tate will not be a deep vertical threat. Because of this error in judgment, Trent does not cover a deep half, which allows Tate to get behind the defenders. By the time Trent and Harrison realize their error, Tate has enough space to make an easy touchdown grab. Charlie Weis's decided schematic advantage (which apparently is not yakety saks after all) held true this once, as this was a perfect play call against this type of defense.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

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“Inside the Play: Notre Dame”

  1. Blogger The Original C Says:

    I still don;t know what the hell happened, Simmo is now saying a 3 deep coverage could also be the case. Its hard to say because of Warren staying close to the LOS the entire time. So it seems like Harrison Trent and Brown were the only ones with intermediate to deep responsibilities. If Trent has deep responsibility then he should have bailed to about 15 yards after snap, but the fact he didn't (you could see him shuffling a little bit in the endzone view). As a deep zone player you are never told to worry about shorter routes. Plus Brown, assuming he had short zone responsibility, never even bothered to disrupt the Tate route, he was busy watching the back field.

    Quoting Simmo...."Safeties are playing a two read concept. On the snap of the ball, the are buzzing their feet, reading number 2 receiver and their regular run/pass reads (qb, ol rb's etc) if number 2 "pushes their heels" that is, becomes a vertical threat, then they will play their deep quarter... if number 2 however, does not become a vertical threat (slant, out, stop, etc) then the safety, looks to rob the deep curl zone. turning his eyes to the number 1 receiver, he can play underneath a vertical route"...

    Since no 2 was never released Brown should have latched on to no 1 and should have at least redirected him or cause some form of route disruption. But Stevie did nothing and you don;t need to be a cover 4 safety to do this....so this was a major screw up by Trent while Brown contributed in his own small way.

  2. Blogger gsimmons85 Says:

    Yeah C,

    what im saying is that it could be several different coverages, but in each of theose coverages, i dont see Stevie brown being responsible for a deep zone, if its man, he has back out of the backfield, if its three rolll, he has flats, if its 2 read, he has undernieth responsiblity, one thing for sure, its not a deep quarter zone, you can tell by his allignment, and his eyes.... I still think, if im coaching this game. Harrison would be the goat if its a three roll, becaue he looks to be the 3rd deep guy, trent gets the goat, if its two read (like you said Brown could have at least bumped him a bit) but in all of them trent is not constricting the zone...