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Anatomy of a Groobers Defensive Choke

An analysis of a potential game-losing play from our former coach.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America

1st & 14. Notre Dame with possession on its own 4-yard-line. Irish trail 21-17. 3:56 to play, 4th quarter.

If you’re Brian Kelly, what coaching do you give your offense?

A) Look for underneath routes. Take the soft yardage between 5-10 yards. Move the chains, there’s plenty of time left.

B) Work the outside routes and get out of bounds. Time is of the essence. If there’s nothing there, quickly throw it away and play it safe.

C) Stay in the pocket as long as possible, don’t worry the rush won’t get there. Go for it all in one heave. Stay relaxed, Greg Robinson’s defense will give up 96-yards in one play. It’ll be much easier than you even thought.

Time’s up. C is the correct answer.

Notre Dame is backed up after a holding penalty to their own 4-yard line. It’s staring at the entire length of the field. It needs the touchdown trailing by four.

3:56: Irish line up in 3-WR/1-RB formation. Michigan in 3-4 defense. All seven men inside the box. Four DBs. Ball is hiked.

3:54: Dayne Crist back to pass. All but three defenders drop into coverage. Comfortable pocket is created for Crist.

3:52: Crist calmly steps up in pocket. Three rushing lineman held at bay easily.

3:53: TE Kyle Rudolph has gotten behind the corner AND the safety. Crist spots him.

3:51: Crist lets fly with a bomb down the right seam. Safety Cameron Gordon begins back-pedaling as though he’s playing centerfield and tracking a lazy fly ball to the warning track.

3:47: Ball clearly flies over safety’s head, into Rudolph’s arms on a dead run. Rudolph, with a ten-yard lead on Gordon, out runs him to the corner of the end zone. No other Michigan defender is within 30-yards of play. Touchdown Notre Dame. Irish lead 23-21.

Officially it goes down as a one-play drive, covering 91-yards in :34 to take the lead. Luckily for the Wolverines, Denard Robinson marches down the field and scores the game-winning TD on the next possession.

How can  a defense leading by four and protecting 96-yards of real estate with under 4:00 left allow any receiver to get behind it? How can a TE be allowed to get by a CB and safety? How is there no security blanket help over the top just in case?

You now know how it feels to root for a Greg Robinson defense.

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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