Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Statistically Speaking: Washington | by Pat

At the start of the most important week of the season, let's take a look at where ND is standing so far numbers-wise.

It Came From the Game Notes

• Junior QB Jimmy Clausen has conducted three straight comebacks for victories, tying the school record for most comebacks in a year since 1950.

• Senior SS Kyle McCarthy is the No. 1 tackler among all defensive backs in the FBS, averaging 9.8 tackles per game.

• Senior All-America candidates OC Eric Olsen and RT Sam Young have not only helped improve the Irish rushing attack, but have also helped the passing offense as neither has allowed a sack.

• With his 244 yards receiving game against Washington, Golden Tate moved into the Top 10 for ND career receiving yards.

Receiving Yards
1. Jeff Samardzija..........2593 (2003-06)
2. Derrick Mayes.......... 2512 (1992-95)
3. Tim Brown................ 2493 (1984-87)
4. Tom Gatewood......... 2283 (1969-71)
5. Rhema McKnight..... 2277 (2002-06)
6. Maurice Stovall........ 2195 (2002-05)
7. Jim Seymour............ 2113 (1966-68)
8. Tony Hunter............ 1897 (1979-82)
9. Golden Tate...........1813 (2007-)
10. Ken MacAfee.......... 1759 (1974-77)
Battle for First Down

Updated table here.

The ability of ND's defense to stop the run on 1st down was still subpar against Washington with a mediocre win rate of 29%. What was interesting is this came is that among the 14 attempts, 4 of the rushes were what qualifies for a "draw" in this metric. Lately ND has been a bit of boom or bust against the run. They would stop the run for 2 or fewer yards or let up a long run. Perhaps the increase in draws is somehow tied in with the reduction in overall blitzes. With the backers not flying in on every snap, sometimes they are holding back and in position to make the stop after only 3 yards. Or perhaps the spike in draws this week is just a coincidence. Either way it's something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

Against the pass, tied their best output of the season, winning 50% of 1st down pass attempts. However, the long ball hurt ND as half of Washington's successful 1st down pass plays were over 10 yards (30, 24, 12, 14, and 12 yards).

With the game total average of 41%, the overall season 1st down win percentage is 39%, which is a percentage point below where it was in 2007 before Tenuta came to ND. I don't know if he has some sort of goal percentage, but I have to imagine it's higher than what the defense is currently producing. With the Trojans coming to campus on Saturday, it will be a tall task for the defense to start a second half of the season improvement.


Updated table here.

While the offense stalled in the redzone, it had no trouble marching through the middle of the field. The drive percentage for ND against the Huskies was a robust 62.2%, second highest of the season.

The Huskies weren't too far behind that number though, picking up 57.8% of their available yards. So far this season ND has already had two opponents crack 56% while only one team (Southern Cal) managed to do so last season. Eventually ND is going to play a team with a defense that limits the offense (this week is a likely candidate). It would be rather nice if ND's defense could return the favor.

Gimme M.O.E

Updated table here.

Another game, another high M.O.E for ND's explosive but still sloppy offense. The offensive M.O.E. of 15% was the highest of the season and only the 3rd time the ND offense hit 15% since the start of the 2008 season. It makes one wonder, just how good could this offense be if they kept the big plays but could greatly reduce the mistakes that have continually popped up this season?

ND is doing much better in the turnover area, with fumbles and interceptions totaling 5 after 5 games for a rather obvious 1 turnover a game average compared to last season's 23 turnovers in 13 games (1.8 per). But where ND is hurting is drops and penalties. Last year ND dropped 16 passes on the year. Factor in the 447 attempts and you get a dropped pass percentage of 3.5%. So far in 2009, ND has dropped 10 of 163 attempts for a dropped pass percentage of 6.1%. That's a huge jump from last year and sort of surprising given how accurate Clausen has been so far this year. Penalty-wise, ND has gone from 2.5 offensive penalties per game last year to 3.8 so far this year. If the OL can avoid false starts and the receivers can hold on to the ball a bit better, there is no telling how effective the offense can be.

Over on defense, whether you want to credit ND, the weather, unforced errors, or a combination of all of the above, the Washington M.O.E. was 18%, which ties Purdue for highest of the season. In this particular case, penalties and drops were the major reasons why and usually those are the more mental mistake type of errors an offense will commit. Still, it's good news for ND as long as opposing offenses continue to hit over the 12% mark and, more importantly, play more mistake filled offensive football than the Irish.

Season Long Running Stats

Updated table here.

For clarification, the season long stats table is using the rankings as of the previous week and do not include the results of last weekend when ND was on a bye.