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Notre Dame Football

Film Don't Lie | Notre Dame vs Toledo

September 14, 2021

Hello, old friend. Welcome back. I missed you.

It’s been too long since I published a Film Don’t Lie piece that broke down actual plays from the previous week’s game. The short week after Florida State caused a delay in the first one so I’m glad to get this kicked off with some plays from the Toledo game.

I’m choosing to highlight two plays with Tyler Buchner at quarterback and two plays on defense that didn’t end so well for the fellas wearing blue and gold. Hopefully it allows everyone to understand why these plays worked so well or why they didn’t.

Tyree touchdown

There is nothing about this I don’t love. Love the personnel choices. Love the formation. Love the design of the play. Love the timing of the call.

It’s one of those plays that was pretty darn close to perfect and it all starts with the choice of 22 personnel (two backs, two tight ends).

Tyler Buchner is in the game at quarterback. By this point in the game, Toledo is well aware that Buchner is someone they have to stop from running the ball. To help them with that, they’ve called a blitz with the boundary cornerback. It’s something that worked well for them earlier with a strip sack of Jack Coan.

Notre Dame has Kyren Williams (23 in the backfield) and Chris Tyree (25 and in the slot) in the game with Michael Mayer (87) and George Takacs (85) in a tight bunch to the right. Tyree comes in motion and there should be immediate red flags for Toledo and there is only a tiny shift reacting to it.

It’s a play-action call off of an inside zone look and that occupies a good chunk of the defense. With the corner blitzing, the safety on that side of the field is taking Braden Lenzy (0) who is clearing out with a post route.

The corner is gone and the safety is gone. There is literally no one there covering Tyree on this wheel route. Toledo is in trouble unless the corner is able to get to Buchner.

He doesn’t. Even if he or the safety ran with the wheel, Takacs was coming across the field wide open because the safety on the other side was frozen by the play-action. The fact the corner was blitzing set this up to be an easy touchdown, but it was going to be a big play to Takacs even if that corner picked up the wheel.

(Link to the play

Great call. Great execution. Six points.

Out leveraged to the boundary

The defense is in 3 down (Dollar) and this was honestly the most head scratching play of the game for me.

Isaiah Foskey (7) is at inside linebacker here and JD Bertrand (27) is the overhang defender outside of him. The key piece to this is the tight end is lined up to the boundary and Bertrand is already dropping to the middle before the snap and immediately continues his drop after it. He’s essentially taking himself out of the play before it starts.

Why was that the call for him on 1st and 10? I have no idea. Maybe it has something to do with the back being lined up on that side and Toledo never showing this pitch before.

Without him on the boundary, Notre Dame is outnumbered. They have Jayson Ademilola (57) at the end and Toledo leaves him unblocked up the field. That means the tight end is getting out to Foskey and the left tackle is moving out to block Bo Bauer (52).

Do you want Foskey having to defeat a tight end and scrape to the ball here from an inside linebacker position? That is a legitimate question Marcus Freeman and the defensive staff should be asking after watching this play. If he’s attacking as a blitzer, which he did numerous times in this game, then that is different. He did a good job while doing that. But if you’re asking him to play as an off the ball linebacker here, that doesn’t seem like the most natural thing for him.

Even if he beats the block from the tight end, this is still at least five yards. It’s basically free yards because Notre Dame put themselves in a vulnerable position the moment Bertrand dropped from his overhang position outside of the left tackle.

If he stayed in that spot, he’s probably approaching this downhill and it’s a couple yards at best.

Before anyone freaks out, there weren’t many plays like this where it was set up to fail for the defense. I wanted to highlight this one, though, because it’s a perfect example of trying to do too much. If they played this straight up, whether in Dollar or with four down, this 11-yard gain doesn’t happen.

(Link to the play)


This is another beautifully designed play that went for 8 yards, but it had the potential to go for a lot more if Toledo played this poorly. Buchner is at quarterback again and this time it’s 20 personnel (two backs, no tight ends). Tyree goes in motion and runs a bubble while Buchner pulls the handoff from Williams.

My guess is that they called the pull for Buchner here rather than having him make the call on giving it to Williams. Buchner now has the option to run the football if the linebacker runs with the bubble. He doesn’t and attacks Buchner and that’s why the bubble is open.

The ball was a bit too far in front of Tyree and he bobbled it or else this probably goes for at least a first down. What truly makes this play so difficult to defend is that if the safety breaks off of his assignment to play the bubble, the slot is running a wheel route and Buchner will have the option to throw that as well.

There really are some exciting possibilities with Buchner and RPOs going forward that are going to be fun to watch out for.

(Link to the play)

No wrong arm on the big run

Everyone knows the situation. Notre Dame just went back up by a touchdown and have all of the momentum. Then BOOM...Toledo hits back with a big play in the run game and they are right back in it.

There is no doubt that Kyle Hamilton has to make the tackle here. Let’s get that out of the way. He does that and then the mistakes up front don’t get noticed. But he did miss the tackle so it does come back to what Notre Dame did up front that allowed this hole to be so big for Toledo’s back to run through.

Justin Ademilola (9) is the end here and it really starts and ends with him. This is a very poor job. His read is the tackle. As soon as he sees down block, he has to get his eyes inside and think a trap is coming his way. All he seems to be thinking about is getting up the field here and he pretty much takes himself out of the play.

I’ll get back to him in a second, but lined up inside of him is Rylie Mills (99) at 3-tech. It looks like him and Howard Cross (56) are slanting to the next gap to their right so it’s a bit of bad luck with the counter going the opposite way. He still doesn’t do very well here because he either has to get up field quicker to maybe disrupt something in the backfield or at least do a better job at fighting back against the guard so this hole isn’t so big.

Here’s the big key in all of this: Cam Hart (5) is coming on a blitz from the boundary. That is why those guys are slanting. It’s all replacing gaps. That’s happening with Hart and it makes it even more perplexing what Ademilola is doing here. He needs to be tighter to the tackle or else he is going to where Hart is.

What is supposed to happen here is Ademilola recognizing the trap and then he immediately attacks down the line of scrimmage and “wrong arms” it. That means he attacks with his outside arm on the inside shoulder of the offensive line and tries to plug that hole so the ball can’t be run inside where it is designed to go.

The idea is to spill the ball to the outside with a “wrong arm” technique, which could have worked perfectly here with Hart coming on a blitz outside of him. This could have ended up with a TFL if this was played better up front.

Instead it ends up being an explosive run that put Toledo in scoring position.

(Link to the play)

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