Despite a couple of close losses, this season's improvement over last year has been dramatic and measurable. For the second year in a row, ND has started 4-2, but looking solely at record is a poor metric for evaluating a team's improvement. For instance, the Irish were 3-3 against the same six opponents last year. Perhaps the best indicator of improvement by a squad is not a change in record, but rather in margin of victory (MOV).
Historically, the improvements created by Coach Weis are substantial. Only three other Irish coaches have improved a team's margin of victory against common opponents in their first year. Weis joins this list at #2 behind Ara's +24.9 point improvement per game and ahead of Lou (+7.1) and Elmer Layden (+13.1). In all cases, the coaches and teams they replaced were sub-par by ND standards: Hunk Anderson's 1933 squad which went 3-5-1, Hugh Devore's '64 team which went 2-7, Gerry Faust's 5-6 '85 squad, and Willingham's .500 team from last year.
|Record vs common opponents||0.500||0.667||+33%|
|PPG vs common opponents||26.8||36.0||+34%|
|PPG allowed vs common opponents||28.3||25.7||+10%|
|MOV vs common opponents||-1.5||+10.3||+11.8|
Here's MOV compared to last year:
|Opponent||2004 MOV||2005 MOV||Home field Adj||Change|
There is an argument to be made that the quality of competition is less this year. Certainly Pitt, Michigan, and Purdue seem to have dropped off. But looking at actual results, the schedule doesn't seem to have slipped that much.
Opponent's record (excluding games vs ND)
|Opponent||2004 ||2005 |
|Winning % ||.606 ||.563 |
That's only about 7% worse than last year thus far.
On a somewhat twisted side note, part of me is now glad that we lost to Michigan State. I would hate for Saturday's game to be our only loss of the season.