Friday, November 14, 2008

Statistically Speaking: Boston College | by Pat

It Came From the Game Notes (and message boards)

• Trevor Robinson became just the fifth freshman to start a game on the Irish offensive line at any point, joining an elite club that includes teammate junior OT Sam Young (the entire 2006 season), Ryan Harris (final eight games of 2003), Brad Williams (vs. Navy and Boston College in 1996) and Mike Rosenthal (vs. Ohio State, USC and Air Force in 1995).

• Since Ara took over for Joe Kuharich, Notre Dame has been shut out in a game 10 times. Charlie Weis-led teams account for three of them. The only other coach since Kuharich with more than one shutout loss is Ty Willingham (2).

• Senior SS Kyle McCarthy leads the Irish with 84 tackles and ranks fourth nationally among all defensive backs in tackles. He has registered double-digit tackles in four games this year and sits one tackle behind fourth place on Notre Dame’s single-season tackles by a defensive back list.

Battle of First Down

For the 6th time in 9 games, Notre Dame stopped at least half of the opponent's first down runs for 2 or fewer yards. Against BC the 1st down Win Rate was 50%. Against the pass, the Win Rate was 40%, the second lowest of the season. However, the Eagles only passed the ball 5 times on first down so the sample size is rather low.

Here are the season long numbers.

The true test for this metric will be against Navy tomorrow. Holding Navy to short gains on 1st down will put a serious crimp in the Midshipmen offense as 2nd and longs and especially 3rd and longs are not the kind of down and distance were option football is particularly effective. Last season, ND had a 1st down Win Rate against the run of 33%. That doesn't sound that great for the Irish defense, but the actual breakdown included 13 "draws" (read as a gain of 3 yards) out of the 27 attempts. In other words, Navy only gained more than 3 yards on 1st down 19% of the time. Over the course of the season, ND's run Win Rate was only 34%. So far this season it is noticeably higher at 52%. Is the improved win rate due to better defensive design and play, or weaker running games by the opposition? The performance against Navy will be a good insight into if ND really is improving as a rush defense.

Gimme M.O.E.

Not surprisingly, the M.O.E. against BC was the worst of the season, 16%. In fact, only 8 games in the Charlie Weis era had a worse M.O.E. percentage. The killers this game were Jimmy's four interceptions and the five offensive penalties. After 7 offensive penalties through the first four games, Notre Dame has been flagged for 20 offensive penalties in the past five games.

On the defensive side, BC pulled off an 11% M.O.E. If not for their 5 offensive penalties, the number would have been a lot lower as they committed no turnovers and only had one sack.

Season long numbers here.

Season Long Running Stats

The kickoff return coverage unit is back up to #1 in the nation, but the net punting has fallen off the map. In the Top 20 as recently as the North Carolina game, now ND is 85th in the nation in net punting. And that doesn't even include the blocked punts the past two games.