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Notre Dame Football

Film Don't Lie | 2021 Spring Game

May 7, 2021

Football is back! At least it was. Briefly. For a televised split squad scrimmage.

Whatever. I’ll take it. I’ll also take the opportunity to do another Film Don’t Lie breaking down four plays from the Blue-Gold game.

I focused on the offense with these plays by highlighting a rub route concept that went wrong and one that went right, using play-action to create a big play, and a throw that Irish fans should be very excited about.

Rub the wrong way

Notre Dame’s offense struggled to convert on 3rd downs. There were reasons for that, chief among them was an inability to stop the pass rush. There were times that the protection was good, though, and the offense failed to execute. This play is a perfect example of that.

They are trying to get Lawrence Keys (13) space to make a play after the catch against man coverage. They have a rub route concept called to try and accomplish that.

Early enrollee tight end Cane Berrong (80) is the inside receiver. Keys is the number two and comes in motion and aligns stacked behind Berrong. It’s Berrong’s job to run a vertical route and essentially take out KJ Wallace (16), who has Keys in man to man.

Berrong isn’t supposed to run directly into Wallace. He has to take his defender, Rover Isaiah Pryor (10), into the path of Wallace to keep him from breaking on the in breaking route by Keys. It obviously didn’t go the way the Tommy Rees planned it.

Pryor jammed Berrong to the point where he struggled to get off the line and Wallace was able to sit and wait without being hindered. Wallace was able to break quickly on the ball and ends up with the PBU. (And no, this was not pass interference.)

The play was made by Wallace, but the clear assist goes to Pryor because his jam was what allowed Wallace to be free. This only works if Berrong is able to “pick” Wallace and it’s the kind of rep that shows that the young tight end is still adjusting to college football. He has to be the one to initiate the contact and act like he is fighting through the jam to set the pick, er, rub.


Rub the right way

Ah, this is more like it for the offense. It’s the exact same type of call with Chris Tyree (25) coming in motion from the slot and Jordan Johnson (15) as the inside receiver. It’s man coverage again and Marist Liufau (35) is following Tyree and Ramon Henderson (11) is lined head up on Johnson.

Maybe some watched this play initially and thought that Tyree dusted Liufau on the route, but this was all about Johnson taking an inside release on his route and getting in the way of Liufau.

Henderson does not jam and Johnson can get to exactly where he wants to go in order to set this up for Tyree. Liufau gets rubbed out by Johnson and Henderson. Tyree has plenty of free space because of it.

It ends up being an 18-yard gain for the offense.


Bootleg, big play

How many bootleg’s did the Notre Dame offense run last season? The correct answer is: not enough.

When outside zone to the boundary is a staple of the playbook, play-action boot needs to be as well as a counter to that. It was great to see them use it in the Blue-Gold game and it showcased early enrollee Mitchell Evans (88) as someone who can really move at his size.

This isn’t man coverage so it’s not supposed to be Liufau running with Evans across the field. It’s most likely a mistake by Pryor who should be dropping rather than rushing Drew Pyne after the play fake. Both safeties are occupied with vertical routes from the receivers and JD Bertrand (27) has Berrong, who is running across the formation as the check down option.

The beauty of this call is that even if the linebackers aren’t flowing fast seeing the potential run to the boundary, it’s still going to be a difficult cover for Pryor who has to drop and locate Evans.

He didn’t do that. Pyne hit Evans on an easy intermediate throw. It ends up being a throw that is 11-yards past the line of scrimmage that turns into a 32-yard gain.


Some kind of throw by Buchner

Ignore the beauty of the speed to power rush by Jordan Botelho (17) and focus on how special this throw is from Tyler Buchner.

I mentioned this in my rewatch notes as this being one of two things from Buchner. It’s either him seeing his first read is covered and going quickly to deliver a strike to his second read or it’s him using his eyes to not give away his intended target in Keys.

Whatever it is, it’s not a play that is typical for a freshman quarterback.

Houston Griffith (3) is dropping to an area where the ball is going to go. If Buchner stares this down, it’s probably a pick. That initial look after the fake to the left and then how quick he releases this allows for this to be open.

Bertand is watching Buchner’s eyes too and waiting for them to take him to the ball. He’s nowhere near it because of what Buchner did before throwing it.

The most impressive part of this throw is that it’s from the pocket. Buchner’s high school highlights are filled with awesome off-platform throws where he improvises. He’s made a few of those at Notre Dame practices as well this spring. This is an example that he can be much more than just a great athlete making plays outside of the pocket. This is a big time throw.


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