For those of you who missed last week, go back and read. Great, glad we are all caught up.
Continuing on with the Third Installment, we continue to South Bend for a bit of a surprise thriller against a solid Vanderbilt Commodores team. The general consensus was that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had gotten the, “bad” game out of their system the week prior, but were facing a bit of an unknown team in Vanderbilt. Notre Dame came out playing ok, and built up a 13-0 lead. Late in the first half, the Commodores started to find some life and had a solid drive going, hoping to punch in a touchdown before the half. They put together a string of first downs and found themselves with first at 10 at the Notre Dame 21 yard line.
Notre Dame lined up in what appears to be a zone blitz in which Tevon Coney comes up the middle. The defense plays a zone scheme here with the corners playing a cover 3 concept with Troy Pride Jr. and Alohi Gilman covering the majority of the open field.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur identifies the blitz and steps up in the pocket while the running back perfectly blocks Coney. The route turns into a concept route where they drag the tight end deep up the middle veering towards the left hash, leaving Troy Pride Jr. vulnerable to a post route. Alohi Gilman has to respect the deep middle route and play over top of it, banking on Pride to make a play on the ball.
Unfortunately the WR gets inside leverage on the Pride, and makes the catch at the 2 yard line. At this point, I was hoping for a tackle short of the goal line at best, but was really thinking he would roll into the end zone. To Pride’s credit, he absolutely does not quit on this play and holds up the receiver. Gilman rushes to the play, hawking the exposed receiver and a stalemate ensues.
As you can see the ball is at the half yard line when the magic starts to unfold. Gilman rips the ball out (literally the highest fumble I have ever seen) I mean take a look, this is ridiculous and was the best shot I could get before it exited the camera view.
Chaos ensues and thanks to even more hustle by Julian Love, the ball ends up in the hands of the Irish, saving both a touchdown and keeping momentum before the half.
This was a massive play in the game, because it you recall, the final score was 22-17. This was another statement play by the Safety position, which turned out to be a staple all year long. This single play erased any doubts people had about the defensive backs and highlighted a mentality that should carry into next year.
Thought it should be a different play? Let me know! As this is a new column taking place over the course of the next 12 weeks, I would love any and all feedback, and as always, GO IRISH!
PS don’t forget about the absolute BOMB that Tyler Newsome hit to ice the game. I was standing in the endzone (not a big deal/Thanks OFD) and saw him connect and boy was it a beauty. Remember, kickers are people too.