(Apologies for missing last week. Here's an all-Armed Services version)
It's a Numbers Game
• The Trevor Laws Watch continues. With 98 tackles on the season, Laws is ranked 33rd in the nation and is the only defensive lineman in the Top 100. He is on pace to break ND's single season tackle record for defensive lineman set by Steve Niehaus in 1975 (113 tackles) Laws is also tied for 6th in the nation in kicks blocked.
• One of Corwin Brown's talking points this season has been the goal of limiting big plays, or as he calls them, "explosives." While the defense has struggled against the run this season, they've performed substantially better against the pass. The following chart shows the breakdown of long passes against the Irish D in both 2006 and 2007. Two important points to note. First, the 2006 totals are for 13 games while the 2007 totals only include the 10 games played to date. Second, as the Irish have been losing regularly this year, you might guess that teams haven't had to pass as much against them. However, opponents attempted 339 passes against ND last year (26.1 per game) while at this point in the season they have attempted 273 (27.3 per game). In other words, teams have been throwing against ND slightly more this year.
• With Pat Kuntz out with an injury, freshman Ian Williams is scheduled to start for the Irish at nose tackle. He will become the 7th freshman to start a game for ND this year joining Jimmy Clausen, Armando Allen, Golden Tate, Duval Kamara, Kerry Neal, and Brian Smith. Here's a quick breakdown of the 220 total possible starts this season (10 games, 22 positions) for ND, courtesy of the UND.com game notes. We've had more than twice as many Sophomore starts as Senior starts:
• Saurian Sagacity is continuing to track ND's offensive ineptitude. With the games against the service academies under their belt, the ND offense has made slight progress in its quest to avoid being the worst offense in the past nine years. To avoid that ignominious mark, the Irish must average 193.0 yards per game over the next two games. Duke currently is averaging 442.9 yards given up per game and Standford is averaging 455.3 yards given up.Freshmen: 19 (8.6%)
Sophomores: 60 (27.3%)
Juniors: 55 (25.0%)
Seniors: 27 (12.3%)
5th-Year Seniors: 59 (26.8%)
• The Irish offensive line have given up a school record 49 sacks this season. That is more sacks than the defense has accumulated in 2007 and 2006 combined (33). It is almost more sacks combined that the ND offense gave up in 2006 and 2005 combined (52). The previous school record for sacks given up, set in 2002, was 38.
Gotta Have M.O.E.
Two games to note here. Against Navy, the Fighting Irish posted a 14% M.O.E rating. Not a good number, but still the 4th lowest of the season. Unfortunately, Navy's offense was much more mistake-free and their M.O.E. rating was 7%.
In the game against the Falcons, the Irish offense took a big step backwards with a 20% M.O.E. rating. The killer against Air Force were the sacks and dropped passes. In fact, it was the first game all year where the Irish avoided any offensive penalties. If you're looking for signs of improvement, in the last three games, the Irish have only committed 3 offensive penalties total after committing 14 in the first three games. Air Force tied Georgia Tech for the most mistake free offense with a low M.O.E. total of 4%.
Full season list and individual game breakdown here.
Season Long Running Averages
Get your numbers here. Hot off the press.