Notre-Dame two-man attack


Tommy Rees won’t be the offensive coordinator in Miami, but anyone who’s watched the Notre Dame offense movie in recent years knows why most programs would benefit from him leading their offense. He has proven that he knows how to adapt not only to the talent he has, but also to the limits of that talent.

One thing he’s done more in 2021 is having two backs on the court together at the same time and he’s been able to put the backs in the slot more often. In 2020, Kyren Williams lined up in the slot on just 6.5% of passes. This number increased to 11.9% in 21. Chris Tyree increased from 4.3% to 14.1%.

21 staff (two fullbacks, one tight end) is an extremely difficult group to defend against against Notre Dame’s opponents due to the various things that can be done from him. Here it’s with Williams and Logan Diggs together in the backfield and it’s a giveaway to Williams that translates into a score.

It also could have easily been a Tyler Buchner score if he had kept it or if he had kept it and handed it to Diggs. This game presents multiple problems for defenses.

It’s the same kind of action, but this time Williams is the receiver with Buchner shooting it. It’s an RPO he hands over to Williams for a nice payout.

Virginia had seen this play and was no doubt prepared for it, but then Notre Dame added a backhand to Lorenzo Styles Jr. to the equation.

It’s so hard to deal with when they’re already worried about the potential RPO, but it’s even harder if they beckon Williams like they did on this game. That stack exit had it wide open on the 3rd try.

Later in the same game, it’s Tyree in the slot and Williams in the backfield. A transfer to Tyree leads to a setback to Lenzy for another explosive play.

Rees was in the bag in that game using 21 personnel (two fullbacks, one tight end) 13 times (21.3% of total snaps) and it resulted in 161 yards (12.4 yards per play). It was the variety Rees used in this game that left Virginia struggling to stop him.

One of the main reasons they managed to use two fullbacks, 21 in particular, was the ability to take advantage of Williams’ receiving ability. They won’t have that this season, but it shouldn’t be a deterrent to see a lot of this group this fall with Tyree starring in the role.

He had six catches for 115 yards against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl in his first career start. He was also fourth in yards per yard for running backs according to PFF, so he made the most of his opportunities.

It was with him at turf toes for a good part of the season as well.

Could we see even more 21 personnel than we did last season? It’s possible, especially given how often they were with Tyler Buchner and the fact that Notre Dame will likely run out of numbers at the receiver. It’s a way not to overwork this group of positions during a match.

It’s more than a way to give receivers a rest. This is another way to stress defenses and attack them in multiple unpredictable ways.


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