I recently realized that I never got around to finalizing the weekly in-season Statistically Speaking posts (and you thought you'd be able to avoid math this summer). Not that we all need a bunch of numbers to tell us that Notre Dame stunk on ice last season, but if we're going to chart improvement in 2008, it helps to know where we wound up in 2007.
First up is the season review of the Major Offensive Errors (M.O.E) percentage. If you need a refresher, here is the original post where we introduced the idea of tracking ND's M.O.E. Looking at this year's numbers, the final numbers aren't much of a surprise. The cumulative Irish M.O.E. for 2007 was 18% compared to 12% for the opponent. Remember, the total that tends to correlate closely with victory is 12% or lower.
Taking a look at the Fighting Irish percentages for individual games overlayed with the opponent numbers, there were exactly four games where the Irish had a better M.O.E percentage than the opponent. Those games were the three Irish victories and the Purdue game. Not terribly surprising, huh?
While looking at these numbers, I was wondering if it was even worth the effort to track M.O.E again in 2008. After all, the number is basically a measure of how many mistakes an offense makes. And when you make fewer mistakes than your opponent, you're much more likely to win. Rarely does this number contradict common sense. However, there does appear to be some usefulness to this metric in terms of tracking just where you're making those mistakes. As Jay said in the comment section of the original M.O.E. post, the true value may not be in trying to hit any theoretical 12% mark as much as the analysis provides clear coaching points for where the team shows improvement and where it still needs work.
For example, it's obvious that the Irish offense in 2007 (18% MOE) was far more mistake prone than the 2005 (10% MOE) and 2006 (13% MOE) versions. What is interesting is that in one particular mistake category, offensive penalties, the numbers were lower in 2007 than in 2006. I know I certainly wouldn't have guessed that. Even when you factor in the reduced number of overall plays you get a 4.3% offensive penalty rate in 2007 versus 4.5% in 2006. In other words, while the team was letting up more sacks, fumbling more, and dropping more passes, they did manage to avoid drawing penalties at a slightly better rate. Considering the inexperience of all the new starters and likely eagerness to get something, anything, accomplished on offense, a reduction in penalties is a positive sign I would think.
I suppose it will be useful to continue to track M.O.E. for another year and see where exactly the Irish offense improves and where it continues to lag. Adding a second year of opponent M.O.E. data points will be interesting as well, especially as a way to gauge the impact of new coach Jon Tenuta.
If you want to dig through the numbers more yourself, here is the online spreadsheet with all three years worth of Irish offense M.O.E. as well as the 2007 opponent M.O.E. and a three year long chart of each game's M.O.E. Enjoy poking around and make sure to share any interesting insight with the class.
Flag on the play
As a bit of a followup to the M.O.E. discussion, the bit about offensive penalties inspired me to dig a bit deeper. As you might expect, most of the 36 offensive penalties were on the offensive line. 24 of the 36 (67%) penalties in fact were blamed on the big uglies.. That compares to 29 of the 40 (73%) offensive penalties being called against the 2006 ND OL. Here's the 2007 breakdown.
|Player||Holding ||False |
|Sam Young ||6 ||3 ||0 ||9 |
|Mike Turkovich ||4 ||2 ||0 ||6 |
|Eric Olsen ||1 ||2 ||1 ||4|
|Paul Duncan ||0 ||3 ||0||3|
|Chris Stewart ||0 ||1 ||0||1|
|Thomas Bemenderfer ||0 ||1 ||0||1|
|Dan Wenger ||0 ||0 ||0||0|
|John Sullivan ||0 ||0 ||0||0|
With his injured wrist and playing a bit out of position at left tackle, I suppose so many holding penalties on Young aren't all that surprising. It is a bit surprising that Duncan had so few penalties. Looking closer, he had one false start against Georgia Tech, two more the next game at Penn State, and then none for the rest of the season. In other words, he had three penalties in two games while starting at left tackle, and zero penalties in ten games will starting at right tackle. I'm sure the obvious "you have to get a hand on a defender before you can hold him" joke has some truth to it, but 10 straight games without a false start isn't a bad way to finish up the year. The question is, now that he is back at left tackle, will he be able to keep the streak going? Will Olsen pick up where he left off in the spring and make sure he gets a few more career personal fouls? Will Sam Young work on how to hold without getting caught?
If you want to see the number of OL penalties game by game, here you go.
|GT ||PSU ||UM ||MSU ||PU ||UCLA ||BC ||USC ||Navy ||AF ||Duke ||SU |
|Holding ||0 ||1 ||0 ||1 ||2 ||1 ||4 ||0 ||1 ||0 ||0 ||1 |
|False Start ||2 ||3 ||1 ||0 ||1 ||0 ||1 ||1 ||0 ||0 ||3 ||0 |
|Total ||2 ||4 ||1 ||1 ||3 ||1 ||5 ||1 ||1 ||0 ||3 ||1 |
A bit surprising that ND had so many penalties at home against BC and only one against Southern Cal (Bemenderfer's contribution to the total). Three false starts against Duke is pretty bad as well. Ultimately I don't know if these numbers really have any great significance. But I figured it's July and here's one more set of numbers to keep everyone occupied.
Season Long Running Averages
Here is the complete breakdown of the season long averages. I won't spend too much time breaking this down. Like I wrote earlier, we all know we were bad.
It shouldn't be a shock that every offensive and special teams stat tracked in this spreadsheet was worse in 2007 than 2006. Defense improved in 5 of the 12 categories, most notably against the pass. Of course, while teams did attempt more passes against ND in 2007 than 2006, practically none of them were made in a desperate attempt to score points. They were more of the short ball control types that bring down a passing average rather than the down the field shots that give average completion stats a boost.
The turnover margin took a pretty steep dive too as ND went from +10 in turnovers in 2006 to dead even in 2007. If our hopes of an improved and more focused offense and Tenuta inspired defense come to fruition in 2008, I suspect the turnover margin will be one of the most obvious places to see a marked improvement.