Modified fly sweep adds another look to Irish offense

Modified fly sweep adds another look to Irish offense
September 25, 2013, 1:30 pm
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JJ Stankevitz

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The pistol isn't the only in vogue wrinkle to Notre Dame's offense this fall.

Though it's only been used a few times, Notre Dame has run a variation of the fly sweep developed at a small Division II school in Colorado -- Bob Stitt, to be exact, the coach of Colorado School of Mines. (Read more on it here via CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman)

It takes a player -- in Notre Dame's case, it's mainly been DaVaris Daniels or George Atkinson, Notre Dame's two biggest game-breaking playmakers -- and puts him in motion at a full sprint between the quarterback and offensive line. The ball is snapped to Tommy Rees, who only touches it for a split second and immediately flips it to the player in motion, who again, is running at a full sprint.

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It hasn't worked every time -- Notre Dame used it a few times against Michigan State, and it's why Daniels had three catches for just six yards, since the play counts as a pass. Stitt developed it to take a timing element out of the traditional fly sweep, which requires a handoff. Getting rid of that mesh point allows a player to just catch and run.

For coach Brian Kelly, he said he's had the play for years -- it's been practiced, but never really put into a game until this year. He's used it either to get the player in motion the ball, or as a decoy to set up some A- or B-gap runs.

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Against Michigan State, the goal was to keep the strongside outside linebacker from crashing in on every play. It worked a few times -- Atkinson picked up a nice gain on one -- but failed on another, in which Daniels recorded a reception for minus-one yard.

"We were just trying to do something to give him a threat of an outside play to hold (the outside linebacker) for a second, just for a split second so we could get something up inside because he was folding in on every play," Kelly explained. "So you're using some misdirection to hold some guys. But it's something that's been in the offensive system that I've had for many, many years."