Film Room: The Ol’ Trickeration

Another week, another film post extolling the genius of Chip Long.

This week, we’ll look at Dexter Williams’s long touchdown run against USC.  Once again, this play features GT Counter, but with a new twist.

The Play

It’s 1st and 10 around midfield in the third quarter.  Notre Dame lines up in a tight formation with two tight ends.

Notre Dame runs GT Counter to the right.  The right side of the line down blocks, and Liam Eichenberg and Aaron Banks pull from the left side.  Cole Kmet moves up to block the outside linebacker and Chase Claypool takes the corner.  On the right side, Alize Mack blocks the other outside linebacker and Miles Boykin blocks the safety.  Meanwhile, the circled defensive end is unblocked.  Ian Book will read him on the handoff.  Pretty standard stuff.

But wait… Dexter Williams is on the wrong side of Book.  The blocking is designed to run the play right, so Dex should be on Book’s left to receive the handoff.  But here’s where the trickeration comes in.  The blocking will cause the hyper-aggressive USC defense to flow towards the blocking, but Dexter will take the handoff in the opposite direction.

The unblocked defensive end steps inside the gap the pulling linemen vacate, thinking he’s taking away a handoff to Williams.  But Dexter is going the other way.

This is basically a reverse read-option play.  It’s a standard GT Counter play with a read on the backside (which we saw against Florida State) but the roles are reversed.  If the end stays home, it’s Book who follows the linemen inside instead of the running back.  If the end crashes, Dexter takes the ball outside to punish the defense for over-pursuing instead of the quarterback.

Obviously Ian Book is not really built for running between the tackles, so Dexter is the main option on this play.  But Book is capable of picking up yards if the defense isn’t fooled.

But the Trojan defense is completely fooled.  The circled linebacker has no clue where the ball is.  Kmet stands there waiting for him to make a move.  Personally, I would have liked to see Kmet just plant him in the turf, but oh well.  Dex has lots of green grass to run through.  But there is still a deep safety to minimize the damage.  Except…

…oops.  He takes a terrible angle, is still ten feet away when Dexter blows by him, and then falls over on USC’s pathetic excuse for turf when he tries to readjust.  Good job, good effort.

But that’s not all.

After he scores, Dex gives his customary deuces.

And then throws up an upside down V.  Never change Dexter, we love you.

Here’s the full play:

But That’s Not All

Chip Long is a genius, but he did not create this play.  Over the weekend, this popped up in my Twitter feed:

This is a clip of Nebraska running the same play on Friday.  In this example, the quarterback keeps the ball and runs behind the pulling linemen.

I don’t know where this play originated, but it’s nice to know Chip Long can find interesting wrinkles to add to his offense.

Final Thoughts

Yet again, we see Chip Long dialing up a gadget play to spring a big gain.  Even the play before this one was a fake toss bootleg to Alize Mack in the flat for 15 yards.  It’s that creativity that makes this offense so fun to watch.

If I have one criticism of Long, it’s that sometimes he’s too devoted to the run.  Even when teams stack the box he’ll still try to run on first down, which just puts the offense in second and long.  The offense has been more productive when Book is allowed to throw on first down, force the defense to back off, then run the ball later in the game.  I thought Notre Dame ran the ball into USC’s crazy blitzes too many times on Saturday.

But the Irish made enough plays to win, and that’s what matters.

By |2018-11-28T07:49:52+00:00November 28th, 2018|Film Room, Football|13 Comments

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burger23irish_bandit_10Russell KnoxjuiceboxBrendan R Recent comment authors
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The fake toss before this got the Irish crowd up. To follow it up immediately with this huge TD was unbelievable. It got loud in there. Fantastic series.

Who is responsible for the audibles? Is it Book or Long? As you noted, in the first half we ran into a ton of stacked boxes, and once or twice we passed when there were only 5 or maybe 6 in the box. I would have liked to see a better read in those situations.

More Noise
More Noise

Thanks, Burger/ Great play to pick. OK, I am highly embarrassed, but every now and then being one of our Senior posters I get caught. Can anybody tell me more about Dexter flashing the deuce, and an upside down V? I gotta stay current — teaching 25 year olds!

Eric Murtaugh

I believe Dexter gets the peace sign thing from Kansas City Chief’s Kareem Hunt.

The upside down “V” is mocking USC fans using “V” for Victory with each other.


I always assumed he throws the deuce was because he is number 2. You learn something new everyday.


As he was running past a defender in the Stanford game, he was asked “how many times have you been secretly suspended” but he was already so far away he couldn’t yell back, so he let him know how many times via sign language.


I figured he’s a punny guy and throws it up for the double entendre of his being #2 and also to say deuces/peace/goodbye to the defenders in his dust.

More Noise
More Noise

Well — say hey, thanks to you guys, all of you! Eric, I do like the mocking the Trojans thing. For a kid from Florida who has had his share of getting into the full ND attitude, this seem like another affirmation of his terrific evolution

Brendan R

I wonder if Book doesn’t have full freedom on checks/RPOs yet. It’s especially puzzling that we’ve been running into some very unfavorable looks lately given that there’s something built into the offense to take advantage of that.

On the flip side, perhaps Long has been holding off on unleashing that fully until the postseason. This is the stuff of dreams.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

Thanks Burgs. Always a favorite for me.

OK, the run game. I’ve heard on podcasts, that our guards are very big and strong, but not that agile. It has been said that making them pull is not working to their strengths.

What do you think about that?