Eye in the Sky: defending the interior
Te'o and Jefferson were key combatants Saturday
Te'o and Jefferson were key combatants Saturday
Publisher
Posted Oct 12, 2011


The conclusion of our three-part defensive film review examines Notre Dame’s defensive effort vs. Air Force rushes between-the-tackles on Saturday. Included is a final tally of yards gained inside, outside, and through the air vs. the Irish defense while the game was still competitive...

This week’s Eye in the Sky defensive review was be broken into three distinct parts, each crucial to the Air Force offense:

Defense vs. the Pitch
Defense vs. the Pass
Defense vs. the inside run

Players reviewed: Outside linebackers Jamoris Slaughter and Darius Fleming; inside linebackers Manti Te’o, Dan Fox, and Carlo Calabrese; safeties Harrison Smith and Zeke Motta; cornerbacks Robert Blanton and Gary Gray; defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis Moore, Aaron Lynch, Louis Nix, and Chase Hounshell.

Air Force QB Tim Jefferson, TB Asher Clark, Cody Getz, and Darius Jones; FB Wes Cobb and Mike DeWitt, TE Daniel Pickett; RG A.J. Wallerstein, and WR Mikal Hunter and Jonathan Warzeka are the key offensive personal for the Falcons.

First Quarter

The Irish didn’t face an interior rush until they led 14-0 and on Air Force’s eight snap, limiting the 3rd and 11 carry to eight yards to force a field goal (21-3). Lynch was spun around in his gap while Nix was put on his backside and into the backfield by right guard A.J. Wallerstein who fired a shot into Nix’s left shoulder as he tried to penetrate the gap….Te’o and Blanton combined on the stop downfield with Te’o fighting off a lead block to negate what would have been an unlikely run up the gut to reach the sticks 11 yards away.

Trailing 21-3 one series later, with 1st and 10 at his own 40, fullback Mike DeWitt got his first of seven handoffs and was limited to 3 yards by a filling Dan Fox. Kapron Lewis-Moore got initial penetration but was then pancaked by tight end Daniel Pickett. Louis Nix gave ground vs. a cut block but ended up four yards off the ball as a result...Te’o held his ground and Slaughter got in backside help diving into the play.

Darius Jones ran off-tackle from the I-formation on the ensuing play, taking advantage of a still-scrambling ND defense (quick tempo by the Falcons) as Calabrese and Fleming collided in space (both falling) and Te’o was unable to beat Jones (across two hash marks, it wasn’t his responsibility) to the corner. Motta was cut down 10 yards downfield but Gray fought off a block to make the stop, 13 yards downfield…

Dewitt received the next rush as well but was hit after one-yard by Lewis-Moore (threw his man aside), Tuitt and Fleming…

Jefferson followed with a 2nd and 9 keeper finding room as Fleming was sealed inside with Tuitt and Calabrese making the stop six yards downfield…Facing 3rd and 3, Cody Getz got nothing from the I-formation tailback spot as Tuitt and Calabrese penetrated for the stop after two yards…

The Falcons predictably elected to forgo a 48-yard field goal, converting with a fullback dive on 4th and 1 over the left side. Lewis-Moore penetrated but couldn’t make the one-armed tackle of runner Wes Cobb; Slaughter was put on his back and Te’o was chipped just enough so he couldn’t get a clean shot…

Cobb gained another two yards two snaps later (technically the beginning of the 2nd Quarter) as Nix slid down the line for a stop (Chase Hounshell was blocked effectively in his gap but Nix covered for him) but after the Falcons were about to settle for a field goal inside the Irish 7-yard line, a personal foul penalty on Lynch gave the visitors new life:

Tim Jefferson capitalized with a keeper for a three-yard score. Jefferson found room as Lynch was controlled at the point and a sliding Tuitt was shoved too far left and two yards into the end zone. Slaughter, Te’o, and Calabrese were also controlled on the relatively easy scoring run…21-9 Irish as Fleming blocked the PAT

Second Quarter

After the Falcons gained 39 yards on 8 interior rushes in the first quarter-(plus), the Irish defense allowed 6 rushes for 44 yards between the tackles in the second.

Jefferson’s first keeper of the second quarter was wrapped up from behind by a penetrating Darius Fleming – credit Slaughter for stringing out the run as well, but Fleming expertly shed a block and caught Jefferson from behind, prior to scrimmage…

Fleming made another stop four snaps later, stopping a 3rd and 3 run by Gets after one yard with help from Te’o. The Falcons elected to punt, but a Notre Dame timeout allowed time for Plan B – and Air Force made the Irish pay with a 4th and 2 pitch for four yards and a first down.(The Irish intercepted on the next play, killing the drive with a 28-9 advantage.

Trailing 35-9 after another ND score, the Falcons final drive of the half proved its most successful, gaining 80 yards on 12 plays, culminating in a touchdown pass.

Interior rushes on the drive included:

  • An I-formation carry for Clark for six yards over left guard as Tuitt and Te’o were controlled, leaving Fleming and Fox to combine on the stop…
  • Following a fake punt that yielded 19 yards, the Falcons turned to Mike DeWitt, first for four yards over right guard (Fleming made a one-armed tackle) then for 30 yards, 29 of which came after he spun free of a too-high Louis Nix tackle attempt at scrimmage, then sprinted through the Irish defense until Harrison Smith corralled him to the ground. Zeke Motta also missed a difficult diving tackle in space (leaning the other way)…
  • On 2nd and 8 two plays later, fullback Wesley Cobb took a hand-off four yards through the defense (Te’o made the stop swinging his arm as he hit the turf) as Lynch penetrated too far out of his gap and Fleming was sealed outside…
  • Air Force scored on the following play, a roll-out pass to wide receiver Ty Macarthur (who lined up at fullback). 35-16 ND with 1:41

Air Force’s final drive comprised four passes to end the half, trailing 42-16.

Third Quarter

Lynch and Te’o combined to stop the fullback after a five-yard gain to begin the half; Lynch made a fine playing angling down the line to slow the runner. The Falcons were forced to punt three snaps later…

Chase Hounshell made his first career tackle, limiting Cobb to two yards on 2nd and 3; Hounshell split two blocks, defeating one to make the stop short of the marker. A Tim Jefferson sneak for three yards followed as the Falcons interior drove Nix and Hounshell backwards – low man always wins in short-yardage situations…

Jefferson ran an old-school QB draw on the next play, gaining 7 yards up the gut; it would have been more but Te’o fought off a block to make a form tackle around the ankles. Jefferson’s advance was negated by a personal foul penalty on tight end Daniel Pickett for an egregious dive into the back of Gary Gray’s leg – Gray was a standstill bystander at the end of the play and not facing Pickett. (I can’t imagine the outcry if a Notre Dame player had done this to an opponent.)…

The Falcons were forced to punt two plays later…

Air Force regained possession following Notre Dame’s 7th touchdown (49-16 with 6:49 remaining in the 3rd) and mounted its best drive of the second half. An (I-formation handoff to Getz was met in the hole by Tuitt and Dan Fox – Tuitt fought off a block, came across his gap, and slowed Gets with one arm as Dan Fox dove in at the ankles…

Getz followed two snaps later with four yards over left tackle – Lewis-Moore making the stop after shedding his block; Zeke Motta also filled to the boundary side…Fullback Mike DeWitt followed with a belly dive for under two yards; Nix and Fox on the tackle…A 3rd and 4 draw was stopped for no gain by Lewis-Moore, with help from penetration by Nix. Lewis-Moore now has 28 tackles in four games vs. service academy teams over the last three years…

Faced with a 4th and 4, Air Force utilized Option #1 – the fullback, as Wes Cobb burst over right guard A.J. Wallerstein’s block for five yards and another first down. A nice read by Jefferson as Lynch moved to the right of his gap; Fleming to the left, and the belly dive took advantage of the whole created between (Fox on the stop as Calabrese endured an impressive cut block at the second level but somehow forced a fumble on the way to the ground, recovered by Cobb)…

The conversion was the fourth in four 4th Down efforts by the Falcons (finished 5 for 5)…

Three snaps later, Asher Clark took a 3rd and 7 hand-off 8 yards over right tackle. Hounshell was shoved inside, Slaughter blocked to the ground, Fox over-pursued, Calabrese was cut at the second level, and Harrison Smith made the stop at the marker…

DeWitt followed two plays later for four yards, Calabrese and Hounshell combining for the stop…A 3rd and 3 followed with Jefferson fumbling a belly handoff (gaining two yards on his recovery). Jefferson converted the fifth and final fourth down conversion with a second-effort sneak over right guard Wallerstein. Notre Dame’s D-Line, for the first time on the day, stoned the Falcons front wall, but Jefferson kept his feet and dove for the yardage. Calabrese and Gray had a shot but both lost their footing upon initial contact (a savvy run by Jefferson who appeared to recoil and burst forward)…

The drive ended with a Lewis-Moore sack and subsequent field goal, cutting the Irish lead to 49-19 to begin the fourth quarter.

Both teams emptied the benches with the Falcons outscoring the Irish 14-10 over the final 14 minutes…

Air Force finished the competitive portion of the game with 27 interior rushes for 127 yards (one score). Included were 44 yards on 13 interior runs in the third quarter alone.

Final Tally

Our film reviews of Notre Dame’s effort vs. both the Pitch (perimeter runs) and Pass are linked below. Through the game’s three competitive quarters, Air Force ran 69 plays and gained 387 yards (417 not including personal foul penalties) through the following splits:

Perimeter (Pitches, Reverses, Tosses): 18 rushes for 123 yards (no scores)

Pass Plays: 12 for 24, 137 yards, touchdown, interception

Interior rushes (between the tackles/off-tackle hand-offs): 27 rushes for 127 yards, one touchdown.

Final Quarter: No breakdown necessary, but 14 snaps for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Eye in the Sky: defending the perimeter

Eye in the Sky: defending the pass


Related Stories
Eye in the Sky: defending the pitch
 -by IrishEyes.com  Oct 11, 2011
Bye Week Notes: Personnel
 -by IrishEyes.com  Oct 13, 2011
Rank and File: Mid-season
 -by IrishEyes.com  Oct 15, 2011

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