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Notre Dame Football

Film Don't Lie | Misdirection Counter

November 2, 2021

Sometimes one big play can ignite something and make the rushing total look a little misleading. Kyren Williams put up a 91-yard run on a play that should have been stuffed at the line of scrimmage and that certainly padded the total for Notre Dame against North Carolina.

But even taking that great play off the board, the Irish still managed to rush for 202 yards and 4.93 yards per carry. This was by far their best rushing performance of the season and one reason for it was this misdirection counter play that Brian Kelly referred to in his Monday press conference.

Here’s the play right here and it starts with George Takacs (85) motioning inside to an H-back position on the left of the formation. Normally on a counter play the back would be lined up on the left as well and it would be Andrew Kristofic (73, the left guard) pulling and Takacs following behind him. Then Kyren Williams would follow those blocks and go from there.

This is different because it’s the right guard, Cain Madden (62), pulling with Williams lined up on the right side. Takacs looks like he is moving to the right, but he steps in and then follows back to the left.

It’s a subtle thing, but that tight end stepping to the right can mess with the read of the linebacker who may think the ball is heading the other way.

Here’s an example of how Notre Dame has run counter for many years. This is against Stanford back in 2015 and it’s the left guard, Quenton Nelson, pulling with the H-back, Nic Weishar, lined up on the same side. They come across and lead through.

Josh Adams follows behind and then does ridiculous Josh Adams things in the open field. It also should be mentioned that there is the beautiful addition of the motion coming across that helps open up the play on the right side.

Now that you see that, you can compare back to what Notre Dame did with the misdirection counter in this game. They did it again with Logan Diggs as the back to the same side on that very same drive.

Kelly also referenced the Tyler Buchner touchdown pass, which was also supposed to be a counter.

Buchner was meant to be the ball carrier and the look is exactly like the Stanford 2015 play, but this time it’s the quarterback following instead of the back. Buchner didn’t run it because there was no one covering Avery Davis (3) on the play. He took the pass option on the RPO and threw it to a wide open Davis for an easy touchdown.

Those three different versions of counter, one with an RPO attached to it, show why it’s so hard to play defense when an offense plays with variations of a similar play. It was a great job by the Notre Dame offensive staff designing the misdirection counter and great execution by the players.

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