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Notre Dame Football

Film Don't Lie | Dime Defense vs Purdue

September 21, 2021
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One of the most frustrating things about Notre Dame’s early struggles on defense was their inability to get off the field on 3rd down. Despite having a successful pass rush and a strong Havoc rate, they allowed the opposing offense to convert on 3rd down too many times.

That changed against Purdue with them only surrendering a first down 25% of the time. After allowing them to convert the first two 3rd down attempts in the game, Marcus Freeman’s defense locked them down, giving up only two first downs on Purdue’s next 14 3rd down attempts.

A huge reason for that was the implementation of a Dime defense (six defensive backs) and they way they disguised coverages and forced quarterback Jack Plummer away from his first read.

Two high to three deep

Here we are in the 1st quarter and Notre Dame is showing two high safeties. That’s what Plummer sees and then the ball is snapped.

The Irish are going to play three deep here with both corners bailing and Houston Griffith (3) dropping to the deep middle. DJ Brown (2) was one of the two deep safeties at the snap and he drops down to take away the inside receiver to the field if he hooks up there. If he goes deep, which he does, the receiver gets passed off.

TaRiq Bracy (28), the nickel, is dropping to the flat and that has him taking away the outside receiver who is hooking up at the sticks. You can see Plummer is looking that way and if he throws it, it’s probably a pick six.

Everything is taken away here with JD Bertrand (27) dropping to the other flat. Kyle Hamilton (14) is a robber on this play which means he is in the middle of the field and there to read the quarterback and either take away the tight end who leaks out or any crosser.

Plummer has nowhere to go with the football and the rush forces him to step up in the pocket. His first look is to the tight end, but Hamilton has that covered. He has to try and run after that and Hamilton stops it.

Great execution on the back end and even though the rush missed him, it didn’t give him the option to see if anything would break down in coverage.

Cover 1 to three deep

This is pretty much the same coverage, cover 3 robber, but it starts from a different look.

Notre Dame has a single high safety here, Brown, but he doesn’t stay in the middle of the field. It’s Ramon Henderson (11) who drops to the deep middle. He looks like he is matched up man to man, but that is not the case.

Hamilton again is going to rob any routes coming over the middle of the field and it just so happens that what Plummer was looking for was an in from the tight end. If he throws this, it’s a pick.

That’s not there and he doesn’t even get off to his next read because the rush is closing in on him with a beautiful stunt which forces Plummer to step up and try to flip the ball to the back. Even if it’s completed, Purdue is punting.

Single high to cover 2 man

We know how this one finishes with Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (95) and Isaiah Foskey (7) overwhelming the left side of Purdue’s line and it’s a sack, but look past that for a second see what Notre Dame is doing with their coverage.

Hamilton is lined up in the middle to start looking like a robber, but he drops deep right before the snap. Brown is on the other side and he originally is the deep safety and the pre-snap look is single high, so probably cover 1.

It shifts into cover 2 man, which is man coverage across the board with Hamilton and Brown as the two deep players.

At the bottom of the picture it looks like Bertrand is blitzing, but he is showing and then running with the back.

Receiver David Bell is on the boundary and he is being bracketed on this play by Clarence Lewis (6), who is playing with outside leverage, and Brown. He is there to help inside if Bell goes that way.

The best receiver is doubled. Everybody else is locked up. None of that ends up mattering because the rush hit in an instant.

These are three examples of Notre Dame showing one thing and shifting to another. We can expect to see a lot more out of this going forward and don’t be surprised to see Hamilton activated as a blitzer as well. It should be fun to watch what they do in Dime over the rest of the season.

 
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