Thursday, October 30, 2008

Statistically Speaking: Washington | by Pat

It Came From the Game Notes

• After only 31 10+ yard runs in all of 2007, the Notre Dame ground game churned out 11 10+ runs alone against Washington.

• Only eight FBS schools are averaging fewer three-and-outs per game than Notre Dame’s offense, according to a survey conducted by football SIDs. The Irish have 11 three-and-outs this year which averages out to 1.57 per game.

• The Irish limited Washington to just 124 total yards on 48 offensive plays (only 2.6 yards per play) -- all Notre Dame bests since head coach Charlie Weis arrived in South Bend in 2005. In fact, the 124 total yards are the fewest for an Irish opponent since Rutgers managed only 43 in a 62-0 Notre Dame victory on Nov. 23, 1996.

Battle of First Down

ND had its second lowest 1st Down Win Rate of the season against North Carolina. The 38% Win Rate was second only to the Stanford game for worst of the season. Likewise, the 43% against the pass was just barely above the 42% against Stanford and was the third worst showing of the season. The 40% total was the second game in a row that the ND defense was under 50% against both the run and pass on 1st down.

Rebounding nicely, Notre Dame had some of their best 1st down defensive numbers against the anemic Husky defense. The 71% Win Rate against the run was the second best of the season. A 55% Win Rate against the pass gave the Fighting Irish a overall Win Rate of 61%, which is the second best mark of the season.

Over the course of the season, ND's Win Rate on 1st Down is 52%, which is a noticeable increase over last season's 40%. The biggest contributor has been the uptick in 1st down run defense. After only holding opponents to 2 or fewer yards on 34% of all 1st down runs last season, the ND defense has managed that feat on 53% of all opportunities this season.

Here is the season long chart with the 1st Down Win Rates.

Gimme M.O.E.

Against North Carolina, Notre Dame's offense was undone by turnovers. It might seem the M.O.E. would be the highest of the season, but the numbers come out to a respectable 11%. The reason is while the turnovers were a season high, the ND offense only committed one penalty and dropped one pass. Also, one of the fumbles came on special teams and doesn't factor into the M.O.E. calculation. This highlights the narrow focus of the M.O.E. metric though. Clearly an interception returned for a touchdown is more costly than a false start. But to this particular metric, for better or worse, all mistakes are equal and the only thing that matters is how many your offense commits. This is why it's always important to consider context and what exactly your metric is measuring when slicing and dicing stats.

Switching sides of the ball, the Tarheel offense had one of the better days against the ND defense with a 9% M.O.E. result, aided by no turnovers.

The Washington offense had far less success. Their M.O.E. score of 18% is the second highest of the season and was largely due to both drops by the wide receivers and sacks allowed. Like UNC, they didn't commit a turnover, but also didn't have many offensive plays, so each mistake had a bigger impact on the final M.O.E. tally.

ND matched their M.O.E. from the UNC game with another 11% output. There wasn't any major area where the offense made mistakes, but the penalties, sacks, interception, and drop added up given the somewhat lower number of total plays.

Here are the season long M.O.E. numbers. So far the ND offense is barely into double digits with a 10% M.O.E., which compares very favorably to last season's 18%.

Season Long Running Statistics

Here you go

The rankings for the UNC game are the rankings for that weekend's set of games. The bye week was skipped, which combined with the high offensive/low defensive stats against Washington help to explain some of the more noticable jumps in certain statistical rankings.