Film Analysis: Notre Dame's offense found balance against Georgia Tech

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The right side of Notre Dame’s offensive line had an interesting day against Georgia Tech.

Right guard Tommy Kraemer and right tackle Robert Hainsey helped clear the way for two of Notre Dame’s rushing touchdowns in the 31-13 victory. The path to rushing yards was a bit more productive on Notre Dame’s right side by a difference of 1.1 yards per carry.

But Kraemer and Hainsey both had tough days in pass protections. They each allowed quarterback Ian Book to be pressured on three occasions with poor jobs in pass protection.

Backup Josh Lugg entered the game at right guard for Kraemer for the final two drives of the game.

The Irish will need more consistency from the right side of its line against Clemson on Saturday.

Before we turn all of our attention to the upcoming matchup, let’s take one last look at Notre Dame’s offensive performance against Georgia Tech.

Under pressure

Notre Dame’s pass protection continued to show some flaws last Saturday. Book was pressured on 11 of his 35 dropbacks. That pressure rate of 31.4 percent ranks as the third-highest of the season for the Irish behind Pittsburgh (43.2%) and Duke (36.8%).

Georgia Tech was able to make Book uncomfortable at times and even have multiple defenders pressuring him on a couple dropbacks. On the 11 pressured dropbacks, 14 individual pressures came from Yellow Jackets.

Four of those pressures came from unblocked defenders. As mentioned earlier, Kraemer and Hainsey allowed three pressures each. The remaining pressures came against left guard Aaron Banks (two), left tackle Liam Eichenberg one) and tight end Brock Wright (one).

The Yellow Jackets were fairly disruptive when pressuring Book, though he was able to scramble for positive yards on three occasions. On the 11 pressured dropbacks, Book completed two of his five passes for 12 yards with one off-target throw, one drop and one throwaway. Book also rushed six times, including two sacks, for a net of 19 yards.

Georgia Tech rushed four defenders at Book most frequently. And on 25% of those dropbacks, Georgia Tech registered pressure with a four-man rush. Here’s how Book and the Irish pass protection fared against the various pass rush quantities.

Three-man rush (5 times): 4-of-4 for 52 yards. One run for zero yards. One pressure.

Four-man rush (20 times): 10-of-16 for 102 yards. Three-off-target throws, two throwaways and one drop. Four runs for 33 yards. Five pressures.

Five-man rush (5 times): 3-of-3 for 32 yards and 1 TD. Two runs, including one sack, for seven yards. Three pressures.

Six-man rush (5 times): 1-of-3 for 13 yards. One off-target throw and one 50-50 throw. Two runs, including one sack, for six yards. Two pressures.

Passing depths

A week after wide receiver Ben Skowronek brought a deep threat to Notre Dame’s offense, the Irish reverted back to a more conservative passing game against Georgia Tech. Book completed only one pass beyond 15 yards of the line of scrimmage and only attempted two others.

Book finished the game 18-of-26 passing for 199 yards and one touchdown. Yards after the catch accounted for 120 of those passing yards. Book completed his passes at an average of 4.8 yards downfield.

The eight incomplete passes thrown by Book were a product of four off-target throws, two throwaways, one 50-50 ball and one drop. When eliminating Book’s two throwaways, here’s how he fared at various depths relative to the line of scrimmage on 24 intended passes.

Behind the line to 0 yards: 5-of-5 for 39 yards.

1-5 yards: 7-of-9 for 51 yards. One off-target throw and one 50-50 throw.

6-10 yards: 2-of-2 for 21 yards.

11-15 yards: 3-of-5 for 57 yards and 1 TD. Two off-target throws.

16-20 yards: N/A.

21-30 yards: 1-of-2 for 31 yards. One off-target throw.

31-plus yards: 0-of-1 with one drop.

Personnel production

Notre Dame finished the game with an even split of 35 designed runs and 35 dropbacks for a total of 426 yards and four touchdowns.

The Irish tallied 181 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 35 designed runs. The 35 dropbacks turned into 199 passing yards, one passing touchdown and 46 rushing yards.

Notre Dame leaned heavily on it’s 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends) in terms of usage. The Irish ran 43 plays with 12 personnel for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Designed runs accounted for 135 yards and all three of the touchdowns on 27 carries. Book finished 7-of-12 passing for 98 yards and rushed four times, including two sacks, for 11 yards.

Better production came with 11 personnel (one running back and one tight end) on the field. The Irish ran mostly passing plays — 15 dropbacks compared to three designed runs — to accumulate 122 yards for an average of 6.8 yards per play.

Notre Dame showed a couple of two-running back sets against Georgia Tech. The Irish ran four plays with 22 personnel (two running backs and two tight ends). The success came with three designed runs for 34 yards in addition to one incomplete pass. Notre Dame called for dropbacks when it utilized 21 personnel (two running backs and one tight end) on two plays. Book completed a four-yard pass and scrambled for 13 yards.

The first touchdown of the game — an eight-yard pass to Joe Wilkins Jr. — came with three tight ends on the field. The Irish used 13 personnel (one running back and three tight ends) on only two other plays, which were designed runs that netted only one yard.

Snap location

Every time Book took a snap from the pistol formation, the play call was a designed run. Notre Dame rushed for 46 yards on eight designed runs out of the pistol.

The Irish mostly operated their offense out of the shotgun. Those 43 plays, 30 of which were dropbacks, produced 281 yards and two touchdowns.

Book didn’t fare well as a passer on his five dropbacks from under center. He finished 1-of-4 passing with the eight-yard touchdown pass to Wilkins as his only completion. He was also sacked for a loss of four yards.

But the ground game was at its most effective with Book under center. The 14 designed runs turned into 95 yards and one touchdown (6.8 yard per carry). Designed runs averaged 3.1 and 5.7 yards per carry out of the shotgun and pistol, respectively.

Run direction

Notre Dame rediscovered running success on the outside against Georgia Tech. On outside runs, the Irish gained 121 yards on 20 carries. The scoring, though, came on inside runs with 15 carries for 60 yards and three touchdowns.

As mentioned previously, runs to the right side were more productive than runs to the left. Notre Dame tallied 16 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns to the right and 19 carries for 89 yards and one touchdown to the left.

Outside runs to the right were the most consistent with 6.3 yards per carry.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) prepares to throw behind left guard Aaron Banks (69) against Georgia Tech.