Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Statistically Speaking | by Pat

Each week we'll take a look through the weekly box score and the excellent game notes on UND.com and pick out a few items of interest. Also, a running totals of certain stats will be kept to track how the team is performing realtive to last year's team. (And thanks to semi-regular contributor Jeff for his help in putting this together).

First, a little breakdown on the Pitt game.

Statistically speaking, ND and Pitt played nearly the same game in 2005 as they did in 2004. The running game was just as productive per carry, and the passing game appeared slightly worse in 2005. With all the talk about the offensive improvement under Weis, ND’s defense actually showed more improvement. Pitt did rush a little better than in 2004, but ND’s pass defense was stingier (however, Pitt’s pass defense was equally so).

ND vs. Pitt
2004 2005
Yards / Rush 5.3 5.5
Total rushing yds 179 275
Yards / Pass 10.0 8.4
Total passing yds 259 227

Pitt vs. ND
2004 2005
Yards / Rush 2.6 3.3
Total rushing yds 98 103
Yards / Pass 8.0 6.3
Total passing yds 334 220

But, everyone knows that this wasn’t the same ND team that played last year; just take a look at the scoreboard.

Of course, there are two other key metrics to look at in a game, both measuring mistakes. ND did flip the turnover margin from -1 to +1, and penalties yardage dropped from a net of -80 for ND to -39. But these are relatively small differences, and can’t explain the difference between a shootout and a blowout.

In looking at Saturday’s game, the key themes that resonate with me are efficiency and consistency. The third down conversion rate for the Irish improved dramatically from 43% to a whopping 67%, while dropping Pitt from 53% to a crushing 29%. The Irish controlled the ball, grinding out 33 first downs vs only 18 last season, executing 17 more plays (while holding Pitt to 14 fewer plays), and holding the ball for an additional 6 ½ minutes. Now that's winning football.

ND vs. Pitt
2004 2005
3rd down efficiency 6/14 10/15
First downs 18 33
Total plays 60 77

Pitt vs. ND
2004 2005
3rd down efficiency 9/17 4/14
First downs 23 20
Total plays 80 66

Other Game Stats and such

As was noted by ABC, Notre Dame's 35 first half points were the most scored since 1996, when Lou Holtz was still coach. For the sheer amount of talent that has passed through Notre Dame during that period, that's a sad statistic.

Notre Dame totaled 33 first downs in the game. That is the most number of first downs since the Fighting Irish picked up 34 against Georgia Tech in 1977. 20 of those 33 first downs were rushing first downs, the most since 1996 against Washington when Notre Dame amassed 21.

Brady Quinn set a career rushing record with 59 yards. Obviously the lack of sacks contributed to this record, but Brady still looked pretty quick on some of his scrambles. He only fell 87 yards shy of the ND record for rushing yards by a QB in a game. (And I know you're all thinking Tony Rice, but the record was set by Bill Etter - on only 11 attempts - against Navy in 1969.)

Notre Dame's 3rd quarter 20 play drive that resulted in a touchdown was only the second 20 play drive since 1980, when such a stat began being recorded. The other was in 2002 against Maryland that ended in a field goal. In 2003, ND had a 19 play drive against Purdue, but it ended on downs.

At one point in the game, Quinn had completed 11 passes in a row. That streak is good for 3rd all-time for consecutive completetions in a game.

Consecutive Completions in a Game
1. 14 - Ron Powlus, MSU, 1997
2. 12 - Jarious Jackson, Navy, 1998
3. 11 - Brady Quinn, Pittsburgh, 2005
4T. 10 - Joe Montana,Georgia Tech, 1978
4T. 10 -Angelo Bertelli, Stanford, 1942

Quinn finished the game with 27 pass attempts, which was enough to move him into 3rd place all-time for pass attempts in a career. Look for him to do the same for pass completions after the Michigan game. We realize this stat is due more to ND's move to pass happier offenses as of late, but it is still an impressive accomplishment.

Career Pass Attempts
1. - 969, Ron Powlus, 1994-97
2. - 850, Steve Beuerlein,,1983-86
3. - 712, Brady Quinn, 2003-present
4. - 698, Rick Mirer, 1989-92
5. - 609, Blair Kiel, 1980-83
6. - 550, Terry Hanratty,1966-68
7. - 536, Jarious Jackson, 1996-99
8. - 515, Joe Montana, 1975,77-78
9. - 509, Joe Theismann, 1968-70

Thanks to an amazing diving catch by Samardzija, Quinn notched two passing touchdowns against Pitt and moved into a 2-way tie for 5th place for career TD passes. He should (hopefully) keep moving up this list fairly rapidly this season.

Career Touchdown Passes
1. - 52, Ron Powlus, 1994-97
2. - 41, Rick Mirer, 1989-92
3. - 34 Jarious Jackson, 1996-99
4. - 31, Joe Theismann, 1968-70
5T. - 28, Angelo Bertelli, 1941-43
5T. - 28, Brady Quinn, 2003-present
7T. - 27, Steve Beuerlein, 1983-86
7T. - 27, Terry Hanratty, 1966-68

Anthony Fasano's team leading 4 receptions against Pittsburgh moved him into 6th place for career receptions by a tight end.

Career Receptions by a TE
1. 128, Ken MacAfee,1974-77
3. 62, Derek Brown,1988-91
3. 62, Dean Masztak,1978-81
4T. 55, Tony Hunter,1979-82
4T. 55, Mark Bavaro,1981-84
6. 49, Anthony Fasano, 2003-present
7. 46, Mike Creaney 1970-72

Season-long Running Averages

Don't read too much into these yet; until we get four or five games under our belts, these running averages are going to vary wildly from game to game. Also keep in mind that our schedule is front-loaded with difficult teams (but you knew that already).

Keep in mind these are just a few metrics that seem interesting to us at this point in time. As the year goes on, we might switch some out, add some, highlight something in particular, etc.

For further deep background, be sure to read Charlie's presser from Sunday, where he runs down the metrics that are important to him.


Category 2005
Yards per rush
Avg yards per pass attempt
8.4 7.2
Avg yards per pass completion
12.6 13.4
Pass completion percentage
Third Down conversions
10/15 (67%)
68/183 (37%)
Rushing yd average, with nat'l ranking 275 (10th)
127.4 (85th)
Passing yd average, with nat'l ranking 227 (43rd)
218.1 (54th)
Total offense yd average, with nat'l ranking
502 (15th)
345.5 (81st)
Time of possession / game 32:46 30:50
Red Zone Touchdown Efficiency
5 / 6 (83%)
25 / 36 (69%)

Note from Charlie:
We converted 67 percent on third down which I think is definitely winning football. Every time we got in the red zone, we scored a touchdown - that's winning football. I certainly don't count the one at the end of the game where we're running the clock out as a failed time in the red zone. That's the right thing to do in that situation anyway.

Category 2005
Yards per rush given up
Avg yards per pass attempt
6.3 7.9
Avg yards per pass completion
11.0 13.6
Pass completion percentage
Quarterback sacks
5 30
Rushing yd average against, with nat'l ranking 103.0 (37th)
88.2 (4th)
Passing yd average against, with nat'l ranking 220.0 (45th)
281.2 (116th)
Total yd offense average against, with nat'l ranking
323 (29th)
369.4 (54th)


Category 2005
Interceptions by ND
Fumbles Forced / Recovered
2 / 1
27 / 12
Turnovers gained
2 21
Had Intercepted 1
Fumbles / Lost 1 / 0
15 / 6
Turnovers lost
Turnover Margin +1

Special Teams

Category 2005
Kickoff return average
Kickoff return average allowed
16.0 19.9
Punt return average
23.0 10.8
Punt return average allowed

Final fun stat 'o the day: assuming we play in a bowl game each year for the next three years, Darius Walker still has 74% of his eligibility remaining (as Pete pointed out, below).