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Irish need to battle the chop blocks

Nov 18, 2010, 12:27 PM EDT


Yesterday, Brian Kelly met with the assembled beat writers and a conversation on chop blocks broke out. Doing his best to deflect the issue while still letting it be known that illegal chop blocks are a huge advantage for triple option teams, Kelly flashed his political chops at their best in his dealing with the thorny issue.

“I’m just saying the option offense has a lot of blocking techniques that are potentially violations,” Kelly said when prodded. “You have to be very cognizant of it inside, and then on the perimeter, the rules are pretty clear. You cannot come back into the ball and block below the waist. I just think that rule has to be enforced. That’s the one that really concerns us more than anything else. We just hope it’s looked at carefully.”

if you feel like torturing yourself and looking back at the Navy game, you saw how much difficulty the Irish had taking on blocks in space and dealing with Midshipmen that were engaging the legs of both the defensive linemen and the linebackers. Again, chop-blocks aren’t completely illegal, and sometimes they psychologically do more to slow down a defender than the actual block does.

To the Irish’s credit, the team is continuing to have the scout offense chop block and provide as good of a look as possible to prepare the defense for Saturday. Defensive line coach Mike Elston gave great insight into how to properly defend against a blocker.

“Up front we’ve got to play more physical, we’ve got to play with our hands better, we’ve got to move our feet, we’ve got to know our assignments, and we’ve got to play better,” Elston said. “You can’t be aggressively attacking a cut block and expect that he’s not going to get into your legs. You’ve got to steer his helmet away from your lower body.”

Physicality is the best thing the Irish can do, as the read-and-react approach the Irish took to stopping the Navy defense obviously didn’t work. Ultimately, Kelly hit on the key to defeating an Army offense that’s good, but nowhere near as proficient at running the triple-option as Navy is.

“In all honesty, we’re not in our game plan worrying about all that stuff,” said Kelly, talking about the cut blocks. “We’ve got to play, and we just hope that it’s called if it’s a penalty. If it’s not, let’s go play. We can’t be tentative. If we’re tentative, we’re in trouble.”


  1. kevvy1231 - Nov 18, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    I’m concerned that they’re even having conversations about this. It’s coming off as complaining. And cut blocks are perfectly fine. If we’re talking about blocking low on a player that is already engaged high with another player, then yeah, that’s a problem. But I’ve never heard anyone talk about chop blocks until after the 2009 Navy game when there was one blatant block and now Notre Dame pretends like they’re getting picked on. I wish Kelly would have just said, “If it’s an illegal block, I hope they call it” and leave it at that.

    • 1notredamefan - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:21 PM

      I agree on the complaining issue, It is a fine line to walk especially when it could be used for the bulletin board material, but you have to think thats exactly what the reporter wanted!

      On the other hand I don’t see Kelly as a complainer of false pretenses and would argue that there was more of a problem with Navy then was ever led to after the game, “we just got beat” I think that was similar to the quote, nevertheless it does happen and I think the hard part to understand is the whole legality issue, it’s not something we are tuned into like face masking or blocks in the back and If maybe we saw some examples of the exact illegal block we may see more than we think is happening, Trenches are tough.

  2. 1notredamefan - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    and if it is so great of a “legal” block and works so effectively and cleanly why wouldn’t it be used by more teams? I’m sure that after 100 yrs of studying football someone would find a way to incorporate it into an honest dirtyless spread offense, ummm maybe?

  3. kevvy1231 - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    An illegal chop block is when a defensive lineman engages an offensive lineman while standing and another offensive lineman “chops” the legs from underneath him. It’s a dangerous way to double team, as opposed to both offensive lineman blocking up high. Also, an illegal chop block is called when you hit someone’s legs from behind their field of vision. The goal is to protect the knee.

    Cut blocking isn’t illegal because it’s no big deal. It’s meant to slow down the defender as opposed to engaging in the full block. Because of the style of play with Navy and Army, chop blocks happen more often when double teaming on blocks.

    This is nothing new. It’s only being discussed because of Corwin Brown getting mad about one random personal foul play in 2009. But that was just a regular flagrant personal foul; it had nothing to do with Navy’s play offensively.

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