Friday, January 09, 2009

Year-End Clearance | by Jay

Like a pig roasting in an imu pit, this post-Hawaii Bowl post has been smoldering underground for a while now. Let's unearth it and dish it up.

A few years ago we did an excruciatingly detailed series of posts about the four long touchdown plays by Ohio State that broke the back of the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl ("Four Plays"). You can link to them in the Best of BGS sidebar, down there to the right. I think it's only fitting that with our first bowl win in a century we return to the same format. This time, thankfully, the tables are turned: here are the Four Plays (or maybe five) that swept the Irish to a big win in Honolulu. E'ai kakou!

Play-action to Grimes

This was a play-action pass off of a Wham-style run (where the motioning tight end trap blocks). We had run an actual Wham earlier in the game (on the first drive), which set up this nice out to Grimes.

Bomb to Tate

For this 69-yard TD to Tate, here's a tidbit. When we used that package and formation (Regular/0 Near, no motion) we didn't pass too much. This is probably why Hawaii switched up its defense and went to cover 0 (something Clausen pointed out in the post-game presser). They were expecting run. Rudolph crosses underneath, but Clausen reads the Go all the way and drops the biscuit in the basket.

Play-action to Tate

Similar package and formation as above, but with a little motion mixed in. Immediately prior to this play we'd been stuffed on a stretch with Hughes and what looked like a trick play (Allen to pass), and so here we were on third down with just a few seconds left before the half. Had to throw for a score here. We used this set and formation a lot earlier in the year, but shelved it for a while because it wasn't really working for us. We resurrected it for Southern Cal, and used it 7 times against Hawaii. All in all, we never got much production out of it all year, except for this amazing throw and catch.

Screen to Allen

The screen pass TD to Allen is interesting because the Irish did something different in this game that I can't recall us ever doing on a screen, and I think it helped out dramatically: we motioned a receiver down to the line of scrimmage. While his contribution probably doesn't seem like much, it may have afforded Clausen and the blockers an extra second or two to release and set things up. On the previous screen (for 41 yards), the motion man actually came down and blocked a LB, which helped open up the outside. I don't recall us ever doing that with screens -- normally we just send our WRs downfield and let them stalk block DBs or try to run off the coverage.

The bonus highlight in that play is the spectre of Chris Stewart pulling out and bearing down on a poor, defenseless back like a thundering, one-man herd. That is quite a sight.

Golden Go II

Another snap, another long bomb on the Golden Go. Clausen just throws it up there.

And that concludes our Hawaii game review.

Bonus Footage! I lied.

First kickoff return for a touchdown in literally years. Check out Tate with the pancake block, and then the effortless strides to catch up to Allen. The man is fast.

Finally, at this link you'll find a hodgepodge of Hawaii notes that were batted around the BGS lounge following the game. I just dumped out the inbox, and y'all can pick through the pile. There might be some interesting tidbits in there...happy hunting.