Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 99

8 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL N otre Dame's 2021 season left no shortage of themes or numbers that underline them. Here are 21 defining stats from the 11-2 campaign: 1. Jack Coan dropped back 72 times in Notre Dame's Fiesta Bowl loss. Coan's 38 completions and 68 attempts were the most by any Notre Dame quarterback in a single game. His 509 pass- ing yards were second most. How Notre Dame chose to attack Oklahoma State's stout run defense — and Wisconsin's in a 41-13 win Sept. 25 — said plenty about the state of the offense this year. Coordinator Tommy Rees essentially ditched the run before both games be- gan. He was onto something. Notre Dame running backs averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry each time. A coordinator acknowledging before multiple games that running the ball would be a waste of time reflects poorly on the offensive line. Sure enough, Notre Dame had a below-average line by its high standards. 2. Notre Dame allowed three scor- ing drives of at least 80 yards to Oklahoma State in a span of eight possessions. The Irish had not allowed an 80-yard drive in four straight games before the Fiesta Bowl, gave up just five such drives in the final 10 regular season games and eight in the prior 12. The Cowboys re- peatedly rip-corded through the de- fense after they totaled 11 yards on their first three drives. The Fiesta Bowl exposed flaws Notre Dame had successfully band-aided for most of the regular season. It was a re- minder Notre Dame had a first-time head coach and defensive play caller. The Irish struggled to adjust to Oklahoma State's adjustments, even though the Cowboys prodded weaknesses the staff surely had seen the prior three months. 3. Kyren Williams was the first Notre Dame running back to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Darius Walker in 2005-06. Williams cleared the 1,000-yard mark despite Notre Dame's bumpy run block- ing. He made something out of nothing in every game he played. His 91-yard touch- down run against North Carolina will be on Irish highlight reels for decades. A defender hit Williams at or behind the line of scrimmage on 46.6 percent of his carries, which was sixth highest among 81 FBS running backs with at least 150 attempts. Yet, he finished tied for 16th in yards after contact per carry (3.71) and 14th in missed tackles forced (58). 4. Notre Dame allowed four plays of 60 or more yards in the first two games and none in the final 11. The leaky defense in the first two games was a shock to the system. The Irish allowed only three 60-plus yard gains from 2018-20. It quickly piv- oted. Notre Dame allowed only two plays of 50-plus yards in the last 11 games. There's firsthand evidence Marcus Freeman can adjust, tweak and self-scout. Now he must do it in a different job. 5. Kevin Austin Jr. aver- aged 18.5 yards per catch, the highest of any Notre Dame receiver since 2015. That's with a minimum of 40 catches. Austin's mark was the best from an Irish wideout since Will Fuller V's 20.3 yards per reception and the second highest since Golden Tate in 2008 (18.6). Austin made 11 catches on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield. Five of those were touchdowns. 6. Coa n 's s ta rk re l ea se t i m e split was a noticeable change that sparked the Irish offense. Coan's average release time was 2.6 seconds or higher in each of his first five games and 2.53 seconds or lower in five of the final seven. The quick passing game was effective and took some weight off the offensive line — and perhaps saved Notre Dame from a loss down the stretch. 7. Two Notre Dame offensive line- men allowed 21 quarterback pres- sures. An Irish lineman surrendered at least that many just twice from 2014-20, per Pro Football Focus. Right tackle Josh Lugg and right guard Cain Madden each allowed 21 this season. Both players steadied their perfor- mance in the final seven regular-season games, allowing only eight combined pressures in that span. Madden, though, gave up six in the Fiesta Bowl. UNDER THE DOME NUMBERS NEVER LIE A look at 21 defining stats from Notre Dame's 2021 season Michael Mayer broke school records for receptions (71) and touchdowns (seven) by a tight end during his sophomore campaign. PHOTO BY KEITH LUCAS, SIDELINE MEDIA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - March 2022