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Irish need to battle the chop blocks


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.”