If you watched the Notre Dame/ Florida State game last night, you heard Kirk Herbstreit say "He's just blocking" referencing how Prosise came off the line with no intention of looking to catch the ball.
Most sites that I've seen are faulting Prosise for the penalty that cost Notre Dame the game, and they have followed Herbstreit by commenting on "the appropriate way" to run the "rub route".
So I'm putting this out there for 2 reasons.
1. C.J. Prosise may have not done anything wrong, and the penalty may have resulted in a mental mistake by Corey Robinson and also maybe by Everett Golson as the play was intended to be a screen rather than a "pick pass."
2. Even if the play was intended as a "pick pass," I wanted to bring to the forefront how close the play was to being a screen pass, in which case C.J Prosise's block was legal... and they would be partying in South Bend.
When you watch the replay, you see the line of scrimmage is just outside the 2 yard line. Corey Robinson (who eventually catches the ball) is in the backfield at the 5 yard line. When the ball is snapped he starts running the out. What I want to point out was that he begins his route "flat" for the first two steps... but then, he starts "floating" towards the goal line (it is a natural thing to do in the situation). He catches the ball at roughly the 1 yard line (1 yard beyond the line of scrimmage). However, had he continued his route "flat" and/or caught the ball somewhere between the 2 and 3 yard line (JUST behind the line of scrimmage) it's actually a screen pass and C.J. Prosise's block is completely legal... and the Irish win the game.
So if the Brian Kelly called up the screen, Prosise did what he was supposed to do. It was Robinson's fault for crossing the line of scrimmage before catching the ball and Golson (to somewhat of a degree) for not keeping the pass behind the line of scrimmage (But, he needs to throw it where Robinson can catch it obviously).
And even if the play was intended to be a "pick pass" as many other people and sites are suggesting... watch again to see how close the play was to being a screen and making Prosise's block legal. 1 yard makes all the difference in the world.
Watch the replay here. If Robinson catches the ball on right side of the black line. No penalty... N.D. touchdown.
Offensive Pass Interference Call Replay
Here is Mike Pereira talking about the play, If you look at his screen you'll notice the ball is out of Golson's hand and Robinson IS JUST!!! past the line of scrimmage.
And here is a view from the sideline for a different angle...
Terry Williams provides a good description of the situation in "The Hardest Call in Football"
"Offensive pass interference (OPI) is any contact upon a defensive player initiated by an offensive player legally beyond the line of scrimmage (LOS) during a forward pass play in which a forward pass crosses the LOS. It is the responsibility of the offensive player to avoid the opponents. In other words, the offense knows it's going to throw a pass. Therefore, on pass plays when the pass is going to be thrown beyond the LOS, all offensive players are restricted. They are restricted from initiating any contact on a defensive player who is beyond the LOS from the time the ball is snapped until the pass is touched by any player or game official. If the pass does not cross the LOS (e.g., screen pass behind the LOS, blocked pass at or behind the LOS, etc.), an official should not enforce pass interference."
Who made the mistake? You decide, but before seeing the tape here was Brian Kelly's comments on the play.
Kelly said the referees didn’t provide an explanation for the pass interference call on Prosise. “We execute that play every day. And we do it legally and that’s the way we coach it. We don’t coach illegal plays,” Kelly said. Prosise “did exactly what he’s coached to do — exactly what he’s supposed to do.”
Whatever you decide, it could have been, and was close to being a screen pass in which case there is no penalty...