Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

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

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6 OCT. 9, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FAN FORUM COVERAGE ISSUES In this age of analytics, I'm going to throw a couple more categories into the pot: total number of yards of separation between receivers and de- fenders at the moment when the ball is caught, and total number seconds/ minutes the quarterback had in terms of time to throw the ball on all pass- ing attempts in the game. When opponent receivers run routes, especially to the outside, it seems that there is this frustratingly slow and hesitant delay in defenders getting even in the frame. Whether it be backs out of the back- field, wideouts, tight ends, or slot guys, no defenders seem to lock on early on these routes. Too often, the only real defense is a poorly thrown or dropped ball. Whether the coverage is zone or man, shouldn't somebody be in con- sistently better position defensively? The scoring drive that Boston Col- lege had after Notre Dame had gone up 35-13 was a microcosm of the past several years. It seems to me that the situation could have called for a "pin your ears back" and attack mental- ity on Notre Dame's part. And even though they mostly just rushed four, they still weren't effective with seven in coverage. What will Stanford and USC, etc., do against a pass defense that is that passive? And lastly, watching Notre Dame over the years, I keep coming back to the same basic premise defensively: even in zone pass defense, don't you really play man-to-man coverage in your particular area of responsibility? John Butler Olean, N.Y. Mr. Butler, we referred your question to Coach Bryan Driskell, our resident football analyst who breaks down every play of every game on our website Blue- Here is his response: Picking up defenders in zone coverage like you would in man coverage depends on the specific zone utilized. When you are playing on the outside in a Cover 3 defense, you will only pick up the re- ceiver in man if he runs a deep vertical route or a post route. There needs to be a cushion or the cornerback runs the risk of having a receiver run by him. If the defense is playing a pattern- match coverage — which we often see in two-deep style defenses — then there are more man-to-man principles once receiv- ers reveal their intentions. Notre Dame doesn't play that type of coverage scheme. The Irish defense is more of a Cover 3 or Cover 1 with one deep safety in the middle. Occasionally it will play Cover 2, which is two safeties deep, but I have seen very little pattern-match coverage. I would dispute that poorly thrown balls has been Notre Dame's best pass defense. The secondary is still learning the intricacies of the coverages, but thus far the corners have defended the deep ball well, and there is always going to be a bit of a give-away on quick outside throws. Notre Dame mixes in enough man coverage and press looks that it is not something offenses can do all game. In the specific drive you are referring against Boston College, the drive went 14 plays and took almost five minutes off the clock. When up three scores in the second half, forcing the opponent to go on a 14-play drive is a positive. Alabama did something similar against Colorado State, giving up 15- and 11-play time- consuming scoring drives in the second half of a 41-23 win. WHAT PRICE, SUCCESS? As a season-ticket holder of over 50 years, I was abhorred by the view of Notre Dame Stadium covered in red again during the Georgia game. I saw the prices being paid on the Vivid site, and similar seats to ours (sections 108, 112, 126 and 130) were selling for $800-1,200 each. I knew that 95 percent of people willing to pay that price were Georgia fans, and the thought of a red-cov- ered butt sitting on my seat made my stomach turn. Obviously, that wasn't true for other Notre Dame "fans." While tickets prices have risen con- tinuously over the years, they are in line with most major college foot- ball prices. It's the "donation" that is getting ridiculous and the reason that people were willing to sell their tickets to the opposition to re-coup their cost (practically covering their season's donation). I have seen the letters from sea- son-ticket holders (before the sea- son began) complaining about the cost and giving up their seats, and I actually considered that also, even after reducing down to two seats and transferring the other two seats to a couple of my nephews. Since this year 's changes in pric- ing, I'm wondering if other changes are being considered. Professional sports teams offer "packages" of games. Would the university ever consider splitting the season tickets? A package of games (first, third and fifth games) one year and another (second, fourth and sixth games) the following year. In years like this, a seventh game would go to the first package, and it would be the luck of the draw as to when the odd seventh game happens. We love our seats, but as my fam- ily gets older, there is less of a desire to travel to the games and we end up selling a game or two to friends (Notre Dame fans). Some years it's easy to find people willing to spend the money, others not so much. It also depends on the "product" being offered on the field. Early in the year (warmer games), people want to go. Later in the year (colder games and a lousy record), and it's not so easy to find people wanting to go. I've vented enough, but the univer- sity should consider that their most ardent supporters are not necessarily in the top 1 percent of earners in this country. I certainly am not! Patrick J. Foley Via the Internet BE HEARD! Send your letters to: Letters Blue & Gold Illustrated P. O. Box 1007, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or e-mail to: Senior cornerback Nick Watkins and his team- mates in the defensive backfield were effective at not giving up the deep balls early in the sea- son, but sometimes there is a trade-off. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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