Eye in the Sky: 2nd half offense

Wood's emergence remains the key to November

A look at Notre Dame's rushing attack and a couple of touchdown tosses by Tommy Rees as the Irish put the Utes on ice in the second half of Saturday's 28-3 blowout in South Bend.

Irish on the perimeter

Tommy Rees' semi-roll right and post-corner toss to senior Duval Kamara was picture perfect; the ideal play call and matchup – vs. the opposite hash safety – for a sudden change situation and a Notre Dame touchdown (21-3 edge). There's no senior that needed to find the end zone more than the forgotten Kamara…

Another semi-roll right, this time a throw back to a crossing Michael Floyd who was wide open over the middle for a rumbling, stumbling (it looked like someone was shooting at his feet) 24-yard gain. A confusing pattern for the defense with two crosses to the right and a third between them back to the left…

Two snaps later, Rees lofted a perfect pass to Duval Kamara for an easy 12-yard TD to the left corner. That's an uncoverable play vs. a slot receiver facing man coverage to the wide side. Kamara was afforded a half field of green thanks to a Robby Toma out route underneath him. 28-3 Irish…ballgame.

After six runs by Wood to end the 3rd Quarter, Rees hit Floyd as Part II of a double screen. A nice toss in traffic for 7 yards and an Irish first down at the 45-yard line…Rees missed Floyd high two snaps later, though he put the ball safely out of the reach of an underneath defender. Would have been a heck of a catch by Floyd. Just a great play by cornerback Brandon Burton. The miss was Rees' first after eight consecutive completions…

LT Zack Martin was beaten by a spin move which resulted in pressure on Rees, but I'm still not certain how the freshman missed a crossing Michael Floyd by 5 yards on the throw (behind him), forcing an early 4th Quarter punt…

Irish up front

An early half counter by Cierre Wood gains 8 yards over the left side as pull blocks by Chris Watt (who buried his man) and Braxston Cave open a huge running lane. Per usual, Zack Martin executed his seal…Martin keyed a 17-yard gain on the following snap, kicking out to the second level to give Wood room on a quick toss left. Wood ran through one arm tackle and inside a tremendous block of Michael Floyd afforded Wood plenty of space…

Wood had a cutback lane on his next run but gained just two yards on a run over right tackle. Tyler Eifert lost his block on the edge and Watt was a tick late getting to the linebacker at the second level…

Five consecutive carries by Wood to finish the 3rd Quarter:

  • 1st and 10 at the ND 8:With Rees under center, Wood patiently followed a move block and seal by Eifert and a pull by Robinson to run through three arm tacklers for a 5-yard gain.
  • 2nd and 10 at the ND 13: Took a counter to the short side behind a zone blocking Irish front for 4 yards before being slammed down. It was a tough assignment, but had RT Taylor Dever executed his block on the move (vs. the left defensive end head-up), Wood might have run for an 87-yard touchdown as Utah's safety was sucked up into a phalanx of blockers. There was nothing but sideline and green ahead for the Irish sophomore ‘back.
  • 3rd and 1 at the ND 17: Followed strong blocking at the point by Cave and Robinson, but more important a huge pulling block by left guard Chris Stewart for three yards and an Irish first down.
  • 1st and 10 at the ND 20-yard line: Got a little greedy (and tentative) in a 5-yard loss to the right side. I believe Trevor Robinson missed a block vs. the inside linebacker; Right tackle Taylor Dever picked him up and buried the defender, but the edge then belonged to Utah, ruining the play.
  • 2nd and 15 at the ND 15-yard line: Tremendous block up front by Cave and even better efforts from tackles Taylor Dever and Zack Martin (on the move) to take out second level defenders; Wood did the rest, cutting back to the left side for a 20-yard gain and an Irish first down to end the 3rd Quarter. Wood ran through arm tackles for 4-5 extra yards at the tail end of the carry.
  • 1st and 10 at the ND 35-yard line: A sixth straight carry by Wood (the Notre Dame record remains at 8 by both Mark Green and James Aldridge) gains 3 yards on a counter over the right side as Dever uncharacteristically misses his man in space.

Nice seal by Robinson and a pull by Chris Watt to give Wood six yards over the right side midway through the final period…Strong run through shoddy tackling by Wood to gain 11 yards though the Irish were forced to punt due to a previous false start penalty on Taylor Dever…

The insistence on running the football was what I believed the Irish would employ throughout September and was the impetus for the (completely wrong) prediction that Notre Dame would run more than it passed this season.

Thus, I have to ask…what took so long?

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