So with that analogy in mind, and in reference to the Impound It series from the summer here are some quick thoughts on Saturday's game. Afterwards, let us know in the comments how you would score the running game.
Q. Can you talk about the implementation of the run game?So how exactly did that work out against the Wolfpack? What runs were selected by the "run game coordinator"? Although it's hard to determine what "core" means to Weis and Verducci, it appears that the most popular runs on Saturday were the inside zone, the toss play, the draw play with a lead blocker, and one of the Jab counters. All four were productive, and two of the four runs met the 4.6 ypc benchmark established by Weis as a goal in the off-season.
COACH WEIS: I think the first thing we'll do, I'm going to try to be more specific than general on this question. When we come in on a game plan day, which is Monday, the first couple things we're going to address are, A, what problems does this defense present to us, after having studied all day Sunday, what problems does the defense that we're going to go against present.
Then after we've gone ahead and split and studied what we can do about it schematically in the pass game, in the run game, I'll come in and say, Okay, (running game coordinator/offensive line coach) Frank (Verducci), along with (running backs coach) Tony (Alford) and (tight ends coach) Bernie (Parmalee), how are we going to attack these guys in the run game? How are we going to attack Nevada? How are we going to run the ball against Nevada? Give me the four or five runs in our core system that give us the best opportunity to run the ball well against Nevada. Whatever he says, I'll be able to combine those with play action pass that marry with them. Like I said, you always have a core. You go ahead from that core, then you take it from there.
|Run Play ||Plays ||Yards ||YPC |
|Ride 34/35 Zone (Inside Zone) ||18 ||83 ||4.61 |
|Toss 38 ||6 ||26 ||4.33 |
|H 42 Ace (Draw) ||5 ||23 ||4.60 |
|Jab 32/33 Bend (Counter) ||4 ||16 ||4.00 |
The inside zone play is notable because it was the workhorse in the last three series, as 12 of the last 17 plays in the game were Ride 34/35 Zone. Noticeably absent-- with the exception of the 1-yard TD scamper by Armando Allen-- were the outside zone runs (Sprint) that produced more fan frustration than yardage in 2008.
Did you catch who the slot receiver was, or were you too busy watching the back hit the hole? Watch it again if you missed it the first time. I'm actually surprised Clausen didn't throw it to Allen; there was no one around him. This is just another wrinkle, like the play above, that will force defenses to account for both backs and not simply assume the fullback is a blocker. However, with Aldridge's health a question mark, it seems as though this new toy in the Irish offense may be temporarily shelved, although Weis talked about a "Plan B" in Sunday's presser. Could that possibly be Robert Hughes?
The Aldridge Experiment. Until he went out with a bruised shoulder, it was working fairly well. While his blocking was inconsistent, the coaching staff didn't ask him to do too much, and his mere presence on the field opened up the offense to an extent. Aldridge played fullback on 12 plays, of which eight runs and four passes were called in the huddle. On one of those runs, Clausen decided not to hand off and instead threw a swing pass to Mike Floyd. In total, here were the 12 plays with Aldridge and Allen or Jonas Gray in the game together:
- 4 passes, all completed, for 218 yards, including three touchdowns to Mike Floyd;
- 1 sack, as Clausen held the ball too long (waiting for crossing routes) before finally deciding to scramble;
- 3 draw plays with Aldridge leading Allen or Gray went for 10, -1, and 6 yards, with the one negative play resulting from a poor Kyle Rudolph block;
- 2 running plays on the dive/pitch combo shown above;
- 1 goal line outside zone play where Allen ran untouched into the endzone; and,
- 1 draw play with Aldridge as the lone back and Allen lined up in the slot.
Throughout the entire game, the Irish were able to send out five different personnel groupings, due in large part to the tight ends on the roster. Dayton transfer Bobby Burger, who is listed as a fullback on the Irish depth chart, was more of an H-back, lining up all over the place, and made gamecharting as interesting as it's been in the last few years.
Another tight end who found his way onto the field was freshman Tyler Eifert, who entered the game on the last drive and played six snaps. Weis explained his appearance on Sunday.
Q. I think some of us might have been a little bit surprised to see Tyler Eifert in there. When did you as a staff decide this is a kid that needs to play now?Whatever Weis and the staff are working on sounds very intriguing. The Irish used a lot of three TE formations in 2005, with Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, and Marcus Freeman, but the dearth of tight ends on the roster made it harder in subsequent years. Are these offensive plans related schematically to what the Irish attempted in 2005? Or entirely different? Stay tuned.
COACH WEIS: We had that conversation about a week ago, and we talked about can we make it through the season, can we make it through the season without using him. And with what we're going to do on offense this year, we felt the answer to that would be no. If we could make it through the season without him, we'd try to sit him for the year, but we said we're doing some things different schematically now, and there's guys that are playing different roles that we need to use guys in, and he looked to us like a guy that could get better and better as the year went on.