Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Leaps and Bounds | by Jay

The ND offense scored 36.67 points per game last year, an improvement of +12.58 ppg over the '04 squad. I was curious where that kind of improvement ranked historically for an ND team.

How's fourth-best, all-time:

SeasonCoachPointsGamesPer Game

Any common threads among these teams? The similarities are debatable, but every team seemed to feature either a new coach, a new offensive scheme, breakout performances by individual players, or some combination thereof.

'43 was Frank Leahy's first National Championship. That year the Irish were led by Heisman winner Angelo Bertelli and star halfback Creighton Miller, who had tried to enlist in the Army earlier that spring but was bounced due to hypertension. ND had also just changed offenses the year before from the single-wing to the T-formation, which Bertelli took to like a duck to water. The offensive explosion would have been even greater if Bertelli hadn't been drafted into the Marine Corps with four games to go. With Bertelli the Irish put up 43.5 ppg; without him, only 19.8 ppg.

'64 was Ara's first year as coach, and also featured a change of offensive philosophy and a breakout player in Heisman winner John Huarte. The Irish that year suffered only one loss and came within a hair's breadth of winning the national championship.

'53 was Leahy's final year, and featured another Heisman winner in Johnny Lattner and a terrific performance from quarterback Ralph Guglielmi. ND got some national championship consideration that year, but the API and UP votes went to Maryland.

'77 was Joe Montana's first year at quarterback, having been first redshirted and then injured the previous season. ND won a National Championship that year, Devine's third year coaching.

And '05, well, we all know what happened: a new coach, an entirely new offensive philosophy, and the emergence of several offensive superstars in Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall.