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Tommy Rees and Lance Taylor should break out the T formation for Notre Dame football


Fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are divided in their opinions about the promotion of Tommy Rees to offensive coordinator. Of the many reasons why some oppose this promotion, is the thought of AIR KELLY returning to South Bend. Can, and more importantly, will Tommy and Lance Taylor run the damn ball effectively?

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

For 2020, at least, there is a lot to like in that regard. The Irish return six starters along the offensive line, two of its top three tight ends not named Cole Kmet, running back with experience, and some kid named Chris Tyree.

In Tommy’s debut as a playcaller, he showed a dedication to the running game. Against the Iowa St. Cyclones in the Camping World Bowl, Notre Dame ran the ball 38 times against 28 passes. Six of those carries were via Ian Book (1 sack in there) so it was probably (technically) more of a 50/50 game.

And I’ll take that.

The underlying concern from fans isn’t really about rush attempts, or yards really, because even when Notre Dame accumulates high totals of both — they still like to dig down deep and bitch about a 3rd and 2 that the Irish got stuffed on during the game. It’s the short yardage situations in recent years that has frustrated fans the most, especially when Notre Dame’s offensive talent has been far superior to most of the defensive lines across from them.

People say that a power running game is more of a mindset and the will do execute, and I can’t argue with that thought. In fact — I’m here to provide a suggestion to help the Irish run the ball in goal line and short yardage situations.


Before you click out of this article, please hear me out (I’ll keep this very brief).

The T formation is an old school power formation that has no pre-snap strong side. Irish fans last saw this ran in South Bend back in the Lou Holtz era, and in that version, Notre Dame used it inside the 10 yard line and starting safety Jeff Burris was a BEAST running the ball.

In today’s game, a lot of offenses want to spread the field out and look to key in on one-on-one matchups in space — even on those short yardage and goal line downs. Those plays sometimes involve a 4 or 5 wide set, and offer little threat of a power attack.

The T, however, is obviously a very powerful formation — and it can provide opportunity for some very sneaky attacks with proper use of misdirection and series playcalling.

Let’s take a quick look at 3 simple plays ran from a single series.


Brendan McAlinden

There is nothing fancy about this. The far side HB gets the handoff from the quarterback and follows the FB and the play side HB into the 6 or 8 hole with step and drive blocking in front. This was the play (I think) Burris ran the most.


Brendan McAlinden

It’s just a simple fullback trap built off of the power lead. The quarterback opens up to the same side with the fullback taking a counterstep and handoff into the one hole. Not shown above is the RT pulling hard into the hole.


Brendan McAlinden

Another play off of the 68 lead. A simple PA with all action moving right with the pass routes, but the far side HB goes up through the line and drifts out to the flat for a throwback pass.


Yes, this is all so ridiculously simple and basic. Perhaps that’s why the Nintendo aesthetic fits so well. That also means it’s easy enough to insert into your playbook without having to change one ounce of your coaching philosophy. All this does is give you another power option when needed. Even if you come out lined up in the T and check into an ACE set with the HBs flexing out wide, there’s a power option.

It’s just a simple way to create more options, and it’s one more thing the defense has to prepare for each week. It’s also a major flex — we are here to knock your ass in the dirt (hit flex quick slant).

It’s a suggestion, and I say, “yes.”

Brendan McAlinden

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