Brian Van Gorder has introduced a novel concept to Notre Dame’s defense – the blitz. After four years of four man rushes and corners ten yards off of receivers, it’s understandable if the idea of using extra defenders to rush the passer is a confusing – and maybe even scary – thought to Notre Dame fans. But rest assured, OFD readers, that this is in fact a legal tactic.
Let’s look at one such play.
From left to right, the linemen are Justin Utupo, Isaac Rochell, and Kolin Hill. The linebackers are Drue Tranquill, Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt, and Matthias Farley. This is an all-out blitz. Tranquill, Utupo, and a slanting Rochell will attack the left side of the line. Smith will loop around to right A-gap and attack the right side of the line with Hill and Farley.
Everyone else is left on an island. Safeties Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate and corners Cody Riggs and Cole Luke have to cover the Michigan receivers with no safety help. Schmidt is covering Justice Hayes (remember him?) out of the backfield. When Hayes stays in to block, Schmidt blitzes (blue arrow).
There are six blockers for six blitzers (excluding Schmidt) but each block needs to be perfect to give Gardner a chance to get a quick pass off.
To Michigan’s credit, they blocked it pretty well. The left tackle slides out to block Tranquill, the left guard takes Utupo, the center picks up Rochell, and the right guard gets Smith.
But every block needs to be perfect and the right tackle (circled) gets beaten badly by Hill with Farley coming off the edge as well.
Hill cuts back inside of the right tackle, who ends up blocking nothing. Hayes has Hill and Farley bearing down on him and gets caught between blitzers.
That’s the picture of a defeated quarterback.
Utupo has joined the party and he’s playing "Meet Me at the Quarterback" with Farley and Hill.