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Notre Dame Football

Kyren After the Catch

April 23, 2021

Tommy Rees spoke after practice yesterday and it’s not a surprise that a topic of interest was creating more explosive plays. Most people immediately think of the vertical shots in the passing game when this comes up, but as Rees correctly pointed out, that’s not the only way to create big plays.

"I think the biggest farce going is that to create explosives, every throw has to be 55 yards. That's not really the case. You can watch whoever you want. A lot of those explosive plays come in creating opportunities for your best players to have space and to be in a 1-on-1 opportunity. If we can create space using the width of the field to create opportunity, if we can also then attack vertically with the speed we have, that's what leads to explosives.”

Yards after the catch. That’s something that should be a point of emphasis for any offense and it sounds like it will be for Rees this season.

One way for Notre Dame to gain more YAC is to find more ways to get Kyren Williams the football and Rees made a point to mention getting Williams more space to work with.

"For Kyren's specifically, it's about how many different ways can we get him involved in the offense. We're going to add even more to his plate. We're going to see him line up in other areas of the field. I think we have three running backs that can all play for us right now and can give us benefit.
"It's our job to get the best players on the field all the time. For Kyren, because he has an innate ability in the pass game, it's going to be how do we expand his role to maximize even more touches to get him into even more space.
"We're doing a lot of things right now and playing around with him and the other backs whether there are two of them in the game or we're lining them up outside of the backfield. That's the next progression in terms of how we want to play this year."

Williams lined up in the slot on only 6.5% of passing plays last season. That was only 22 snaps for him, but we may have seen a bit of a preview of what’s to come in the Alabama game. Seven of those 22 were on that day and that was also the game where he had his season high in targets (eight).

Maybe it was the two drops in the opener against Duke that led to Rees going away from that part of the offense with Williams, but it seemed like his 75-yard catch and run on a screen where he lined up out wide would have inspired the staff to use him that way more often. It didn’t really happen that way, at least not until that Alabama matchup.

Williams finished seventh in yards after catch from the running back position according to PFF. He forced nine missed tackles in the passing game and that number is only going to go up with more opportunities. The only Notre Dame receivers that forced more after the catch were CJ Prosise in 2014 (14), Chase Claypool in 2019 (14), and Michael Mayer (11) last year.

Williams had 12 plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage in 2020. Four of them came on receptions.

That number will rise in 2021 as will his total targets (43) and catches (35). Darius Walker caught 56 passes in his final season for the Irish. I don’t know if the number will be that high for Williams, but more than 40 from multiple alignments is what we are likely to see this fall.

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