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Notre Dame Football

Re-watch Notes | Notre Dame Defense vs Virginia

September 30, 2019
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Bryce Perkins surprised me. I think he surprised everyone with his first half.

18 of 22 to start the game. 10.7 yards per attempt. Even under pressure, he was able to keep his eyes down the field and give his receivers a chance to make a play. Sometimes a defense beats themselves and sometimes a quarterback is just that good. Perkins was that for the first 30 minutes of Saturday and his receivers were pretty darn impressive as well.

Notre Dame has seen some great performances from quarterbacks over the last decade, but what Perkins did was as good as I can remember. The odds of him keeping that up over the course of the entire game were pretty slim. It’s hard enough to play a perfect game and he wasn’t going to be able to do it with the way his line was outmatched.

His numbers dropped to 4.7 YPA in the second half. They couldn’t run the ball (2.8 yards per carry minus lost sack yardage) and they struggled to protect against four rushers even when they kept in six to protect.

In the end, the Irish produced eight sacks and 18 pressures against 52 dropbacks. He was either sacked or pressured on 50% of his potential attempts and that includes quick game passes where the rush barely got off the ball before he released it.

I don’t believe any team will be successful being a one-dimensional pass offense against Notre Dame even if they have a quarterback as hot as Perkins was. This was further evidence of that.

- The Havoc Rate is up to 23.1% on the season after the Irish had a rate of 30.6% in this game. That’s sit back and cackle while lighting up a cigar type of numbers.

- The Irish only gave up 3 plays of 20 yards or more. It seemed like more in the moment, but they didn’t let UVa gash them outside of a couple of drives. Zero of those were runs and the fact that Perkins had a long on the day of 15 was a huge win.

- Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara combined for 5.5 sacks (with two forced fumbles by Okwara). They also combined for six more pressures.

Ade Ogundeji had three pressures in addition to the scoop and score. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa had two pressures, a pass breakup, and that long fumble recovery. There wasn’t a member of the defensive line rotation who didn’t make an impact in some way.

- On to some specific plays…

MTA kicked off the game by fighting through a double team for a pressure. That led to Perkins stepping up and Drew White picking up a sack.

White leads the team with 6 tackles for loss.

- Pretty nice design by UVa on the 2nd down play with the motion setting up Asmar Bilal to vacate the zone to open up the slant.

- Hinish absolutely destroyed the guard when he was single blocked on the next 1st down run.

- On the big play by Reed, I’m more astonished by the throw after re-watching it than anything else. The call by Clark Lea was nearly perfect. Julian Okwara was moving back to his spot and got there pretty quickly, Perkins simply got the ball out fast and put it in the right spot.

An inch inside and it’s tipped or picked off. A fraction of a second later on the release and it’s a pick six.

It looked like Troy Pride was more startled that the throw got through than anything else and that’s why he paused for a split second. That’s what gave Reed the angle and made it a big play.

- 1st and goal at the 10 yard line and Notre Dame went with a 5-3 look with Bear front. Jacob Lacey came in the game with Kurt Hinish and MTA staying in. That made all of those guys one on one inside and made it easy to stuff that play.

Great job by Lacey who had his best game so far. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also shot in like a cannon to finish it off.

The defensive tackle play in this game from the Irish was outstanding. All four of the top guys made plays.

- On 3rd and goal, it looked like Notre Dame was playing with four linebackers in that part of the field. Paul Moala came in the game and he ended up getting picked on a rub route concept that left Reed open.

That was probably what caused the confusion with Moala in coverage, but the threat of Perkins running likely had a lot to do with it as well. He was thinking Perkins would run and his eyes were stuck in the backfield.

- On the first play of the second drive, that floater from Perkins might have looked like a fluke play, but it was a pretty smart throw. None of it happens if Jalen Elliott didn’t slip, though. If he keeps his feet, chances are that doesn’t happen with Perkins being flushed out of the pocket.

- Terrific job by Lacey against the double team to stuff the run.

- The play where the tight end leaked out after initially blocking was on Alohi Gilman. It was another case of Notre Dame getting caught looking to stop Perkins from running. I thought this might be a recurring theme for the entire game, but there weren’t many busts after this.

- On Okwara’s first sack of the game, UVa ran play-action and Okwara got matched up with the left guard. That wasn’t going to be a good matchup for UVa. He won pretty easily and did a great job finishing by punching the ball out.

- On the third drive on 2nd and 10, Perkins had his big run of the day off of the zone read. The Irish were in Dime and Jack Lamb was the edge/read player in this scenario. That’s not where he is going to be lined up typically and he bit on the inside zone without even giving Perkins a look.

If it’s an end, that probably doesn’t happen. Take it as a learning experience for Lamb who will probably play that much differently if he gets another shot at playing the read this season.

- Great job by Kareem not targeting when nearly cutting Perkins in half when he rolled out. Even better job by Perkins to make an accurate throw there (which was dropped).

- Loved seeing Shayne Simon get skinny on the blitz later on in the drive while pressuring Perkins on a play that ended up as a sack.

- MTA had a pressure on a play where Perkins made a big time throw off of his back foot earlier in the drive and knocked down the pass on a 3rd down when Lea brought the house to force a field goal try.

- The next drive featured another great play by JOK punching out the football and turning a 3rd and short into a 3rd and medium. That’s the second forced fumble in as many games for JOK.

- On the 5th drive, it’s been awhile since I have seen two guys literally walk their man back into the quarterback on the same play. Kareem and Hinish did that to combine for the sack.

- That set up 2 and long and then 3rd and 7 when Pride had the pass interference against the back shoulder throw. This was a frustrating penalty not just because it kept the drive alive where they would ultimately score, but it didn’t make much sense to me with Pride overrunning the play and grabbing the receiver to get back in the play.

He’s the fastest player on the team with the speed to make up if he’s trailing a player who has a step on him. He lost this play with his body position, which forced him to hold when he ran by the route.

- When the defense needed a play after the onside kick, it was massive for Okwara to beat the right tackle clean and get the sack. Whoever they put in at right tackle was continually abused by Okwara and Kareem.

From that point on they started doubling the edges with the tight end and running back even more than they had before. (It still didn’t work all the time.)

- On the Jamir Jones forced fumble, any time an end gets single blocked by a back, that’s what has to happen.

- Right after MTA grabbed the ball out of the air and helped flip the game for the Irish, Jayson Ademilola came out on the next series inspired by shedding his man on 1st down for a stuff and then putting pressure on 2nd down on a Kareem sack (right tackle was abused again).

Internal competition is a great thing.

- I don’t think I have ever seen Hinish look as explosive laterally as he did when he stepped to the B gap and ripped through the shoulder of the guard to combined for a TFL with Ade Ogundeji.

- The most impressive thing about Okwara’s last sack? He purposely held up from planting his full body weight on Perkins to try and knock the ball out.

It worked. Scoop. Score. The sad Virginia fan who was crushed after that Will Fuller touchdown in 2015 probably felt the same way after watching that play.

- What a fantastic play by Kyle Hamilton to read and then blow up the slip screen on a 3rd down on the next drive. It was just as impressive as his interception in my opinion.

- What a great ready by White against the quarterback run on the next drive. He has so much trust in his instincts when he sees guards pull and it’s a big reason why he makes plays like that.

- Jones was lined up in the Daelin Hayes role (stand up 3-tech) on the 3rd down running essentially a T-E (tackle-end) stunt. It wasn’t even run that well. Jones has to be tighter. It didn’t matter as he still got a hit on Perkins as he threw up a pass that Gilman was all over for an interception.

- Fast forward to UVa’s last drive of the game and the Hamilton pick. It wasn’t Hamilton baiting him to throw that. Lea just had Hamilton drop after showing blitz and playing something similar to a Robber technique where his main job is to read the quarterback.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Hamilton is very good at that. Not only does he have the instincts to make a play, but it was a heck of a catch that a guy who isn’t 6’4” with long arms probably doesn’t make.

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Re-watch Notes | Notre Dame Defense vs Virginia

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