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Garbage Time, Third-string Corners and Other Pieces of Golden Tate's Highlight Reel

1. 1st and 10 at ND 29 Jimmy Clausen pass incomplete.

Good release, does not factor. Clausen locks into Michael Floyd. Floyd is matched against replacement corner Ricky Gary Jr. Clausen hits him in the hands but Floyd drops it.

2. 2nd and 10 at ND 29 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Golden Tate for 11 yards to the NDame 40 for a 1ST down.

Tate receives for 11 on a curl.

This play presents a paradox or at least a complication. Between where we left off, Irish scoring a touchdown, and this drive, Notre Dame had its extra point blocked and had allowed a touchdown on the subsequent drive. Dion Lewis' 50-yard run put Notre Dame down 18 with 12:44 left to play, and gave the Panthers over 170 yards of rushing. Dave Wannstedt is an old-school, conservative, defensive-minded coach. His team was up three scores in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame had proven powerless to stop the run. Like a lot of coaches, Wannstedt had begun trading yards for clock.

On the one hand, that doesn't wholly invalidate Jimmy Clausen's production. Notre Dame was forced to pass, and apart from three rushes by Clausen, did pass on every play for the rest of the game. Clausen had to spur his players to the line, find a mismatch, snap and pass without delay. He did and brought the Irish tantalizingly close to winning.

On the other hand, though we might credit Clausen for identifying the mismatch, how do we contextualize a reception by Tate that wasn't defended by a corner, safety or even a linebacker, but a defensive end? Tate ran a ten-yard hook in front of Greg Romeus. Romeus, for his part, didn't look lost in cover, but any drafted wide receiver should make this reception. It's automatic.

3. 1st and 10 at ND 40 Jimmy Clausen sacked by Gus Mustakas for a loss of 12 yards to the NDame 28.

In what may be the most worrisome trend of the game, Tate again struggles with press cover and that prevents him from releasing into his route until Clausen is sacked. Panthers pressed Tate all game.

4. 2nd and 22 at ND 28 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Armando Allen Jr for 3 yards to the NDame 31.

Injury had forced Ricky Gary Jr. into service and Gary was manned up against Tate. Gary presses Tate and Tate looks like he's struggling to break free, but he's actually attempting a block. Which is sort of a double whammy, when you think about it. The Irish are attempting to set up a screen pass along the left flat. It doesn't work. Gary breaks free of Tate, and along with Romeus, tackles Allen after three. Breaking presses, blocking, Tate is surprisingly incapable of.

Gary is injured on the tackle and replaced by Antwuan Reed.

5. 3rd and 19 at ND 31 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Michael Floyd for 21 yards to the Pitt 48 for a 1ST down.

Reed is matched against Floyd and Floyd burns him badly on a 15-yard dig route. Floyd continues up and lunges across the marker for the first. Tate is matched against Jovani Chappel. He beats the press and runs a ten yard dig, but isn't targeted and does not factor as anything more than a decoy.

6. 1st and 10 at PITT 48 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Michael Floyd for 9 yards to the Pitt 39.

Pressed, no separation and eventually quits the route. Clausen is locked on the bad corner and targets Floyd for an easy nine.

7. 2nd and 1 at PITT 39 Jimmy Clausen pass incomplete to Michael Floyd.

You can see how a big lead and a third-string corner queers the tape. Tate runs a curl, but is again effectively pressed, again covered, and again never looked at by Clausen.

8. 3rd and 1 at PITT 39 Jimmy Clausen rush for 2 yards to the Pitt 37 for a 1ST down.

QB sneak.

9. 1st and 10 at PITT 37 Jimmy Clausen rush for 8 yards to the Pitt 29.

Tate beats the press and runs an "S" shaped pattern left to right. Good looking separation. Clausen tucks, scrambles and slides for eight. Tate drops the route as soon as Clausen tucks. That sucks. Clausen could have tucked, run into the open, reset and passed. Tate should have continued his route.

10. 2nd and 2 at PITT 29 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Duval Kamara for 11 yards to the Pitt 18 for a 1ST down.

Tate runs another curl. Clausen finds Kamara free for the easy first.

(Panthers timeout)

11. 1st and 10 at PITT 18 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Golden Tate for 18 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

Clausen identifies the blitz and adjusts protection. Antwuan Reed is now assigned Tate after being continually toasted by Floyd. Panthers blitz five. Tate runs a six-yard curl just in front of Reed, receives, breaks towards the end zone, is wrapped at the eight, bullies through to the four, and then rolls through and extends for the touchdown. Great recognition by Clausen. Great RAC by Tate, but against an ill-prepared, third-string sophomore.