It's a Numbers Game
• The Irish defense kept the UCLA Bruins out of the endzone, the first time Notre Dame has accomplished this feat since 2004 when ND beat Washington 38-3.
• The youth movement continues. According to the latest ND game release, 20 different players (1o on offense and 10 on defense) have had their first career start this year.
• Maurice Crum's 4 forced turnovers set a single-game school record. The winner of the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week award, Crum is also the only Irish player to ever force 2 fumbles, recover 2 fumbles, and pick up 2 interceptions in one game.
• I mentioned Sunday Morning QB's Life on the Margins breakdown last week and this week he turns his attention to the ND/UCLA game. Check it out.
• Remember the steadily declining performance the Irish defense was doing against the run? Well, things are starting to even out a bit.
• The Irish rushing offense numbers on the other hand are still terrible.
rushing average against, by quarter 1Q
3.91 yards per carry
• Taking another look at the all-purpose yards, excepting quarterbacks, broken down by class, here's where the team stands.
ND rushing average, by quarter 1Q
0.84 yards per carry
Freshmen - 1070 yds
Sophomores - 656
Juniors - 147
Seniors - 103
5th Years - 229
First off, I haven't had a chance to re-watch the game yet, so I'm going off of my memory for dropped passes. I gave ND one, when Carlson dropped Clausen's pass near the goalline, and UCLA one, when Kahlil Bell dropped the TD pass. What else am I missing?
If we stick with those numbers, ND has put up it's best M.O.E. score of the season with another 11%. That's three games in a row that the Irish have kept their offensive mistakes at or below the 12% mark.
Now, most of that can be attributed to the fact that ND went extremely conservative in the second half and basically just ran stretch plays left and right to run out the clock. Still, the young offense is eliminating many of the mistakes that sabotaged the offense early in the year. Consider that in the first three games, ND gave up 23 sacks on 76 pass attempts. That's 1 sack for every 3.3 pass attempts. In the last three games, ND has given up 9 sacks on 100 pass attempts, or 1 sack for every 11.1 pass attempts. Still not great, but a definite improvement. Yes, the quality of the opposing defense does play into that, but with over a threefold improvement, I think we can give some credit to the offensive line as well.
As for UCLA, they clocked in with a 22% M.O.E rating, by far the worst of any Irish opponent this year. The appearance of 3rd string walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson as Bruin quarterback certainly didn't help, but he certainly wasn't the only one to blame. I broke down UCLA's M.O.E. by quarterback and when Bethel-Thompson was in under center the Bruin M.O.E. was an ugly 23%. But when Ben Olson was on the field, UCLA's M.O.E. was still at 19%. In other words, UCLA was making plenty of mistakes -- partly attributable to the ND defense I'd like to think -- before their starting QB went down with the injury.
Complete breakdown here.
Season Long Running Averages
Get all the nitty gritty here. Just like the Purdue game gave the offensive numbers a boost, the UCLA game gave the defensive numbers and rankings a boost as well.