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Notre Dame Football

Film Don't Lie | Hamilton, Foskey, and Cross (Oh My)

September 15, 2020

I know many of you were thinking only a few months ago that I would have to write “Film Don’t Lie” pieces on old Notre Dame games, but FDL is back and I couldn’t be happier to highlight some plays from the previous game.

It returns on a bit of a somber note, though. There was a play on offense that I desperately wanted to feature this week, but the camera angle NBC showed wasn’t a good one and the GIF moved too quickly. The camera switched to the play as the ball was being snapped so it would make it very difficult to see what I was referring to in an explanation.

That play ended up on the cutting room floor (and probably did for the coaching staff as well as it went for no gain).

I did choose four other plays on defense that I wanted to go back and take a longer look at. Two of them highlight great plays from individuals and the other two explain why things went how they did.

Slide right to Foskey

A sack or a hit on a quarterback isn’t always about a great individual effort. Often it’s about pieces in the pass rush working together. Sometimes it’s interior pressure forcing the quarterback to try and flush out of the pocket. Other times it’s edge pressure which forces a quarterback to step up into a rusher from the interior.

In this case, it was the rush of 3-technique defensive tackle Howard Cross (56) that helped Isaiah Foskey (7).

Cross is lined up outside shade of the left guard and he uses an inside move to beat him. You can see his lateral quickness and gets by 67 with a quick arm over move. He needs to get upfield a bit quicker to avoid getting caught up like he does here. Cross ends up on the ground because Ade Ogundeji (91) bulled the right guard on a stunt back into Cross up the field, but even with him going down, the job was done. He forced Chase Brice to slide over to his left to avoid the pressure at his feet.

Foskey’s initial rush isn’t great as he attacks the full man. The counter is terrific. He uses the momentum of the left tackle to push-pull to the quarterback who is sliding right into where Foskey is. That leads to the hit as the ball is about to be released and Duke was fortunate to not have this picked off.


Hamilton lowers the boom on the blitz

I’m sure everyone remembers this play because of the highlight reel hit, but I wanted to point out why this worked so well for Notre Dame.

Kyle Hamilton (14) is lined up head up on the tight end showing man coverage. This doesn’t look all that different than the 4th down on the first series of the game where Hamilton was man to man on the tight end and had a pass breakup. He’s not showing blitz at all. His eyes are the receiver except for when the ball is snapped and he takes off.

Not showing didn’t allow Brice to recognize this pre-snap and that’s why the hit is so sudden and there is no one picking Hamilton up. It was a great disguise and it worked to perfection.

Brice was lucky to get the ball out of his hands here because it wasn’t just Hamilton bearing down on him. Ogundeji was coming off the edge against the left tackle, Casey Holman, and he utilized a long arm to put the tackle back on skates.

The blitz was one piece. The rush from Ogundeji was another. The next piece was coverage and we get a couple things here that are nice to see.

The first is Houston Griffith (3), who played in sub-packages for Notre Dame, closing on this. He closes so quickly and almost gets there the same time as TaRiq Bracy (28) who passes off his man deep to DJ Brown (12). Bracy sees it and explodes to the ball for the pass breakup.

That’s just great defense all-around. You love to see it.


Duke gets Notre Dame to bite on the fake pitch

Tip of the cap to David Cutcliffe with a timely call and great design to catch Notre Dame in a bad spot. Let’s start this from deep and work our way closer to the line of scrimmage.

Brown is the deep safety here. You can see he is pretty much on a dead sprint downhill to play the run here. My guess is that he saw the backside guard pull and the pitch action, which made him read run. He’s thinking about being aggressive and making a play. (And maybe also still thinking about the interception he dropped earlier in the game.)

Nick McCloud (4) is the boundary corner and he is running deep with his man who is obviously just there as decoy to clear things out.

Buck linebacker Marist Liufau (35) sees a guard coming at him. Of course he is thinking run when the guard is four yards down the field. This was another missed call by the refs to go on top of the offensive pass interference they missed in the first quarter. This should have gone back for illegal man downfield because the lineman had passed three yards from the line of scrimmage. They rarely call this, but should have.

So here comes the big question on this play: does Daelin Hayes (9) have this fullback in man coverage? It’s the fullback (actually tight end Noah Gray) who slips out and gets wide open down the field. Was Hayes supposed to be running with him?

Brown was likely supposed to be back there as well, but I would love to hear who was responsible for fullback on this play.

Drew White (40) does a pretty good job on this play of recognizing quickly it’s a pass and then pressuring Brice, which was why the throw was a bit off. Unfortunately he was a little too late getting there and there was no one there in coverage for a big play for Duke that set up their only touchdown.


Foskey goes beast mode

Devery Hamilton is a 6’9” 310 pound right tackle. He steps back on this play because it’s a draw call. What wasn’t part of the call was him getting rocked back on his heels with Foskey ripping on his inside shoulder and eventually pushing Hamilton back into the fullback.

Someone sound the alarm. We have a dude alert because Foskey just pulled a grown man move and bullied a bigger man to the ground.

That created a pile and Foskey was able to get in on a tackle for loss with Jacob Lacey (54) also getting in on the play. It was all created by Foskey, though. He only played 14 total snaps and had 2.5 Havoc plays. When a player does things like this in limited opportunities, the opportunities won’t be limited for very long.


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