Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 39 of 118

IRISH ANALYTICS BRIAN FREMEAU P rior to the season, we projected that the most likely record for the Irish through two months would be 7‑1 — which is what the Irish were on pace to do heading into the game at Temple Oct. 31. Our efficiency data forecasted 10 wins as Notre Dame's most likely regular‑sea‑ son total before the year began, and that's still the case heading into the month of November. The Irish aren't in total control of their postsea‑ son prospects, but they do have every opportu‑ nity to finish strong and face a top bowl oppo‑ nent in late December or early January. The projection fore‑ c a s t h a s n ' t c h a n g e d substantially, but there have been statistical in‑ dications through the first seven games of the season that Notre Dame may actually be even better than pro‑ jected. The Irish offense is more effi‑ cient, productive and explosive than it has been at any other point in the Brian Kelly era. The defense hasn't been consistent, but it has been domi‑ nant in stretches. The loss of the starting quarter‑ back, running back and tight end to injury hasn't slowed down the Irish attack. Notre Dame ranks 14th na‑ tionally in points per non‑garbage drive through the first seven weeks, scoring just more than three points per possession. Every Irish offense since 2010 has improved on its points per drive production from the previous sea‑ son, and this year 's unit appears to have made its most dramatic leap for‑ ward yet. Notre Dame has been particularly impressive digging it‑ self out of a hole. On non‑garbage drives that have begun inside the Irish 20‑yard line, Notre Dame is averaging a whopping 3.4 points per possession — the second best rate in the nation behind Baylor. That production and efficiency has been cou‑ pled with, and perhaps even fueled by, explosive plays. The Irish recorded eight plays of 50 or more yards through its first seven games, which is as many as they have recorded in any single season since Kelly arrived. Twenty‑nine percent of Notre Dame's non‑garbage posses‑ sions have averaged at least 10 yards per play — the fourth highest rate Notre Dame Is Poised For A Strong Finish Junior wideout Will Fuller is an integral part of an offense that recorded eight plays of 50 or more yards through its first seven games and ranked fourth (29 percent) in the nation in explosive drive rate (drives that average 10 yards per play). PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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