Inside The Numbers: Notre Dame At The Break

October 12, 2017 Bryan Driskell, Football Analyst

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko has built a highly ranked defense through 6 games in 2017.

Notre Dame’s bye week comes at the right time for a team that was becoming more and more banged up each week. It also comes at the perfect time to do statistical analysis. The Irish bye came right in the middle of the season.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Notre Dame stacks up statistically through the season’s first six games.

NOTE: The “AVG.” statistic is what Notre Dame is averaging per game in most categories. Plays, rush attempts, all touchdowns, all tackle for loss numbers, all sack numbers, completions, pass attempts and turnover numbers are all season totals. The “Rank” is where Notre Dame ranks nationally out of 129 teams.


Notre Dame’s points and yards numbers are obviously outstanding, as the Irish rank 18th nationally in points per game and 24th in total offense. Its 6.4 yards per play ranks 30th.

Notre Dame has made a living on big plays, especially in the run game, and getting better on third-down will be key to the offense performing at an even higher level during the second half of the season. Notre Dame has only been at 50-percent or high twice this season and has been under 40-percent four times.

Getting more efficiency from the pass game would play a huge role. Completing just 52-percent of their passes means a lot of 2nd-and-10 situations and a lot of missed third-down chances. If the Irish pass game can create a few more big plays and become more consistent it will improve dramatically, even if the yards per game numbers don’t take a big jump.

When evaluating the pass game in the final six games the numbers to focus on are yards per attempt, yards per completion and efficiency. Completing passes at a higher level and getting a few more downfield shots will boost those numbers.

Improvements in the pass game should also allow Notre Dame to continue its outstanding red zone offense. Notre Dame ranks 21st in red zone scoring percentage and ranks 6th in total touchdowns scored in the red zone.


Notre Dame ranked 62nd in scoring defense a season ago, so ranking 15th in the land is a dramatic improvement. Notre Dame has yet to allow an opponent to get over 20 points per game.

Of all the numbers to look at, scoring defense is obviously the most important.

Notre Dame ranks 52nd in total defense, which is actually lower than it ranked a season ago. The reason is two-fold: Notre Dame has been in many blowouts that have forced opponents to open things up, and the Irish offense has ripped off home run plays at a very high level.

The Notre Dame defense ranks 121st in total plays, so it is on the field a lot. The number to focus on when evaluating a defense in this situation is to look at yards per play, and Notre Dame is giving up just 4.8 yards per play (5.4 last season), which ranks 26th in the country.

Notre Dame’s run defense has improved a great deal, ranking 48th in the land and 46th in yards per carry. Big leads have also helped in this regard as teams can’t keep pounding on the defense, which takes some of the physical toll off the front despite being on the field so much.

Notre Dame’s pass defense is the one area that needs the most nuance when evaluating its numbers. The Irish defense ranks 77th in passing yards allowed, which obviously is a low ranking, but the five blowout victories is a big part of that.

Take for example the Michigan State game. The Spartans passed for 345 yards, but when Notre Dame scored to make it 35-10 in the third quarter the Spartans had just 133 yards and were just 12 of 24 passing. Almost two-thirds of its passing yards came after the game was no longer in doubt.

Only three teams have had opponents throw more passes against the defense than has Notre Dame. Notre Dame ranks an impressive 17th nationally in yards per attempt allowed, 24th in yards per completion allowed and 34th in opponent completion percentage. That means despite the yards, Notre Dame’s pass defense has actually been highly efficient. The pass defense does rank 30th nationally in pass efficiency defense.

Notre Dame ranks 7th in turnovers gained and already has forced as many turnovers (14) as it did in each of the last two seasons.


RB Josh Adams

- No. 2 in rushing yards per attempt (9.02)
- No. 6 in rushing yards (776)
- No. 9 in rushing yards per game (129.3)
- No. 16 in all-purpose yards per game (143.3)

QB Brandon Wimbush

- No. 12 in rushing touchdowns (8)
- No. 20 in points responsible for per game (16.8)
- No. 23 in points responsible for (84)
- No. 23 in points per game (9.6)

CB Julian Love

- Tied for 7th in pass break ups (8)

CB Shaun Crawford

- Tied for No. 5 in fumble recoveries

DE Daelin Hayes

- Tied for No. 5 in fumble recoveries

Rover Drue Tranquill

- Tied for No. 5 in fumble recoveries

P Tyler Newsome

- 10th in yards per punt (45.7)

PK Justin Yoon

- 31st in total points scored (52)


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