The talented Mr. Tate

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Much has already been said about Golden Tate’s miraculous game against Washington. Tate’s 244 receiving yards were the most of any receiver in college football this season, and he added 31 yards on a reverse handoff from Armando Allen to boot. Tate’s rise to lead the football team in the absence of Michael Floyd has been one of the great successes of the year so far.

Yet the way Charlie Weis incorporated Tate into the game plan was a story in and of itself. Weis befuddled the Washington coaching staff by lining Tate up all over the field. When asked why Tate was getting so open against the Husky defense, head coach Steve Sarkisian was candid.

“I think he’s a really good played, one; and they do a nice job with their scheme of moving him around to put him in spots. he does not line up to in one spot on the field. He’s all over the place — he’s in the backfield, he’s in the slot, he’s at wide receiver.

“Then I thought the second thing that played a big factor is the quarterback did a good job of buying time, and so there was designed routes for him, but then his football savvy kicked in, and then Golden Tate is wandering across the field and now coverages break down, ad when you buy that much time and a guy is back there for five, six, seven seconds, that’s how people get open.”

Take a look at the clips our video department put together of Tate in action last Saturday. Weis’ ability to scheme against  the Husky defense was evident by his creative use of Golden, lining him up as the X receiver, at halfback, and as a fullback that motions out of the backfield. Weis has been open about his concern that teams will roll coverage over the top of Tate, but with Golden lining up in so many different places, it makes it incredibly tough for a a defensive to focus on the talented athlete.

Washington’s apparent fear of the deep ball worked in the Irish’s favor. With defensive coordinator Nick Holt unwilling to give up any long balls, it was the first time in recent memory that Jimmy Clausen didn’t attempt a deep strike down the field. Instead, Weis exploited the stretched out UW secondary, and with the offensive line giving Clausen all the time he needed, Jimmy was able to pick up huge gainers on digs and crossing routes across the middle of the field.

Last week during one of Weis’ sessions with the press, a reporter questioned why the Irish hadn’t attempted to attack the middle of the field more. Weis said the plays Notre Dame ran were a response to what defenses have done to attack his offense. After watching Saturday’s game, it’s clear that Weis saw something in the Husky defensive construct that had him confident in their middle of the field passing attack.

We’ll find out next Saturday if Weis and the Irish have the same success against a defense that runs the same scheme, but with a different caliber of players.

(Special thanks to Matt Casey for the video work.)