Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 16, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 34 of 111

CHALK TALK BRYAN DRISKELL alignments, the FS is responsible for the No. 2 receiver in the formation. If there is not a No. 2 receiver, he will be responsible for the No. 3 re- ceiver away from him, while also be- ing cognizant of in-breaking routes by the outside receiver to his side. In the run game, the FS will be re- sponsible for the backside alley when in two-high alignments. The area in between him and the cornerback to- wards the line is called the alley. The FS will often work with the Will line- backer (weakside linebacker), fitting down in the box against from him. If the WLB is responsible for forcing run- ning backs outside that means the FS is responsible for an outside run fit. If the WLB is responsible for forcing the running back inside, the FS will have an inside run fit. Strong Safety (SS): The SS plays to the strongside of the formation and in single-high looks will come down into an intermediate zone. Ideally, this player should have good man cover- age skills, but VanGorder can protect an SS lacking man skills. Instincts are important, with the SS needing to be able to read routes that come into his side and also have the athleticism to open and run with those receivers. In the run game the SS has a lot of ground to cover. The alley to the strong side is much wider. This requires a SS to possess good quickness and long- range speed. Playing with discipline is vital for the SS, who must attack the football with the proper angle and also play with the technique needed to tackle well in space. If the SS gets caught out of position there is no one behind him to over- come that mistake. He will often fit down inside with the Sam (strongside) linebacker in the same fashion the FS fits with the WLB. Notre Dame's SS is a key weapon against the opposition's screen game. Cornerback (CB): Notre Dame's cor- nerbacks will be left on an island in man coverage for much of the game. The CB will either come up tight and play press coverage or will start the play off the line, often mixing up those alignments on each play. The Irish coaches are understand- ably trying to recruit longer CB. When playing in man coverage speed and quickness is essential, but hav- ing length makes it much harder for quarterbacks to fit the ball into outside windows. A CB must have the quickness and hip fluidity to quickly backpedal and then open up and run with receivers. A CB must also have good instincts and ball skills, which will allow him to get his hands on a higher number of passes. Notre Dame's CB will often give up short and underneath throws, but once the ball is thrown they will quickly close and limit yards after the catch. The CB is also responsible for blow- ing up perimeter blocks in the screen game by either beating the blocker and making the tackle or forcing the ball car- rier back inside where there is help. ✦ Bryan Driskell has been a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated since April 2015. He can be reached at

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