The 2018-19 college football season is in full swing now, and like last year, I will be diving into some statistics and seeking out the narrative. Along the way, I’ll highlight the stats that tell the true story and the stats that are straight up fibbin’.
On Saturday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Ball State Cardinals, 24-16. Here’s the tale of the numbers.
Stats That Lie
Brandon Wimbush threw for 297 yards on Saturday afternoon. After witnessing the signal caller’s struggle to throw the ball over the course of his career, you would have thought that maybe it’s finally clicking for him. The Irish threw the ball 31 times, clearly that means Kelly finally trusts Wimbush to sling it and he’s eliminated his mistakes.
I would would have expected a lot more than 24 points. But that was not the case. Wimbush, under duress often, hung in the pocket at times when he would have tucked and run, but still ended up throwing three interceptions. This statistic is not an indicator of Brandon Wimbush apparently improving.
Stats That Don’t
Notre Dame was 4-14 on third down. OOF. Can’t run the ball, struggling to throw the ball, not gonna move the chains. On the other side, Ball State was 8-23, aided by the fact that the Notre Dame defense was on the field for a long, long time. Still hurts to give up 16 to a MAC squad without scoring 40+ in return if you’re the number eight team in the nation and expected to contend for the college football playoff.
The offensive line gave up four sacks, and Quarterback Brandon Wimbush was under pressure all day, leading to three interceptions. The Notre Dame offense only managed 2.9 YPC on the ground for a total of 117. That’s not great for an offensive line that should be able to push a team like Ball State around easily. This regression especially affects the way that Brian Kelly seemingly wanted to treat the Ball State game as a practice for Brandon Wimbush, the pocket passer. The experiment didn’t go all that well.
The Irish have some issues to iron out, whether it is with O-line play, quarterback play, or game plan if they hope to contend moving forward. The story of this game, and the young season thus far, has now turned from “Michigan was great and now Notre Dame fans are looking ahead to week six” to “should Notre Dame be worried about Vanderbilt? Maybe...”
We’ll see what happens on Saturday.