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Notre Dame Football: A Deeper Statistical Look at the Virginia Game

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Weird, but true: Ian Book attempted just one pass between 10 and 19 yards Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Virginia at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Virginia Cavaliers, 35-20, on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

IT WAS OVER WHEN.... With 10:34 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Irish leading by 11, Ian Book handed off the ball to Tony Jones Jr., who scampered left for 30 yards — 20 of them untouched — for a touchdown.

The Irish then led, 35-17, and had a 100 percent win probability, according to the calculator.

SUCCESS RATE: Book was 17-for-25 for 165 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. His success rate, however, was 34.5 percent — his second worst performance as a starter.

What is success rate?

“The goal of success rate is to create an on-base percentage-style efficiency measure,” ESPN’s Bill Connelly wrote last year. “Depending on a given down and distance, each play is deemed successful or non-successful:

  • First downs: gaining at least 50 percent of necessary yardage (usually 5 yards) is successful.
  • Second downs: gaining at least 70 percent of necessary yardage is successful.
  • Third or fourth downs: gaining at least 100 percent of necessary yardage is successful.”

For quarterback performances, Connelly told me to consider only downs where a pass was attempted or a sack was recorded. (He’d also suggest adjusting for opponent, which I haven’t done.)

Notre Dame ran 62 offensive plays that were not negated by penalty. Of those, 24 were successful under this metric and 38 were not. Here are similar Notre Dame performances, according to this metric:

  • A 2018 win vs. Virginia Tech: 26 successful, 41 unsuccessful (38.8 percent)
  • A 2015 win vs. Wake Forest: 19 successful, 30 unsuccessful (38.8 percent)
  • A 2019 win vs. Virginia: 38.7 percent
  • A 2017 win vs. North Carolina: 34 successful, 54 unsuccessful (Book’s first career start) (38.6 percent)
  • A 2010 loss vs. Michigan: 29 successful, 47 unsuccessful (38.2 percent)

BREAKING TACKLES: The Irish forced 11 missed or broken tackles against Virginia.

  • Chase Claypool: 6 catches, 30 yards, 1 tackle missed/broken
  • C’Bo Flemister: 6 rushes for 27 yards; 1 catch for 13 yards; 3 tackles missed/broken
  • Tony Jones Jr.: 18 rushes for 131 yards; 1 catch for 6 yards; 6 tackles missed/broken
  • Cole Kmet: 4 catches for 65 yards; 1 tackle missed/broken

YARDS AFTER CONTACT: As I used to chart games for College Football Film Room, I use their guideline to calculate based on where the ball was when contact was made. It has to be substantial contact, when the runner is either slowed or in danger of being tackled.

  • Book: 9 rushes for negative 11 yards; 10 yards after contact
  • Flemister: 17 yards after contact
  • Jones Jr.: 68 yards after contact
  • Jahmir Smith: 3 carries, 8 yards, 6 yards after contact
  • Michael Young: 1 carries for 2 yards, 1 yard after contact

YARDS AFTER THE CATCH: Total yards minus air yards.

  • Claypool: 11 yards after the catch
  • Chris Finke: 2 catches for 32 yards, 4 yards after the catch
  • Flemister: 18 yards after the catch
  • Jones Jr.: 5 yards after the catch
  • Kmet: 18 yards after the catch
  • Young: 3 catches for 19 yards, 18 yards after the catch

BOOK PASSING CHART

All passes attempted from the shotgun.

At or behind the line of scrimmage: 5-for-7, 30 yards, 1 first down, 1 drop (by Davis)

Throws left, 0-9 yards: 7-for-7, 51 yards, 1 first down

Throws middle, 0-9 yards: 0-for-1, 0 yards, 1 drop (by McKinley)

Throws right, 0-9 yards: 3-for-5, 19 yards, 3 first downs

Throws left, 10-19 yards: 0-for-1, 0 yards

Throws middle, 10-19 yards: 0-for-0, 0 yards

Throws right, 10-19 yards: 0-for-0, 0 yards

Throws left, 20 or more yards: 2-for-2, 65 yards, 2 first downs

Throws middle, 20 or more yards: 0-for-1, 0 yards

Throws right, 20 or more yards: 0-for-1, 0 yards

Book attempted 20 of his 25 passes when there was no pressure from the Virginia defense and he was standing in the pocket. He was 16-for-20 for 152 yards in those instances. In the five times the Cavaliers managed to get in Book’s face, the quarterback was 1-for-5 for 18 yards, although one of those four incompletions was a drop.

I counted 33 instances where Book dropped back with the intention of passing. He rushed for negative 22 yards during those eight instances when he dropped back, but didn’t throw.

TARGET COUNT (SEASON)

Targets in the 2019 Season

Receiver Virginia Tech Duke Navy Total
Receiver Virginia Tech Duke Navy Total
Chase Claypool 14 7 9 83
Cole Kmet 9 5 2 43
Chris Finke 9 6 3 42
Javon McKinley 2 3 0 20
Tommy Tremble 1 1 1 17
Thrown away 7 1 0 21
Lawrence Keys III 1 1 2 16
Tony Jones Jr. 0 2 1 15
Michael Young 0 0 0 9
Avery Davis 3 1 0 11
Braden Lenzy 2 0 2 11
Jafar Armstrong 5 3 2 15
Brock Wright 0 0 0 3
Jahmir Smith 0 0 0 3
Kyren Williams 0 0 0 2
C'Bo Flemsiter 0 0 0 2
Joe Wilkins 0 0 0 2
George Takacs 0 1 0 1
Batted pass 0 1 0 1
Total 53 32 22 317
@ndjrs / Twitter

BOOK VERSUS HIS PREDECESSORS

The senior has now taken 1,083 snaps under center for the Irish. Here’s how his statistics match up to six of his predecessors who took that many snaps for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame QBs through 1,083 Snaps, 2000-2019

Quarterback HOLIDAY QUINN CLAUSEN REES GOLSON KIZER BOOK
Quarterback HOLIDAY QUINN CLAUSEN REES GOLSON KIZER BOOK
Run plays 763 569 543 525 572 577 575
Yds gained from run 3014 2247 1465 2497 2596 2871 2635
Yards per run attempt 4.0 3.9 2.7 4.8 4.5 5.0 4.6
Runs by QB (excluding sacks) 223 49 52 27 122 162 136
Yds gained from run by QB (excluding sacks) 1031 163 138 42 620 889 796
Yards per QB run (excluding sacks) 4.6 3.3 2.7 1.6 5.1 5.5 5.9
Pass plays 320 514 540 558 511 506 508
Yds gained from pass 1954 3262 3368 3855 3926 4501 4070
Completions 164 253 312 358 310 312 335
Completion % 51.3% 49.2% 57.8% 64.2% 60.7% 61.7% 65.9%
Yards per comp 11.9 12.9 10.8 10.8 12.7 14.4 12.1
Yards per attempt 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.9 7.7 8.9 8.0
Total yards gained (run & pass) 4968 5509 4833 6352 6522 7372 6705
3rd Down conversions by pass 41.4% 40.3% 42.9% 40.0%
Non-penalty first downs 229 249 238 318 330 317 315
First downs by pass 85 140 142 190 192 189 180
First downs by QB run 45 20 16 8 37 41 37
% of 1Ds accounted for 56.8% 64.3% 66.4% 62.3% 69.4% 72.6% 68.9%
% of 1D runs accounted for by QB 31.3% 18.3% 16.7% 6.3% 26.8% 32.0% 27.4%
Touchdowns 32 37 33 56 50 71 67
Touchdowns thrown 8 18 24 31 26 36 31
Touchdowns thrown % of all TDs 25.0% 48.6% 72.7% 55.4% 52.0% 50.7% 46.3%
Touchdowns run 24 19 9 25 24 35 36
Touchdowns run by QB 5 1 2 0 10 16 6
% of total TDs that were run by QB 15.6% 2.7% 6.1% 0.0% 20.0% 22.5% 9.0%
TDs by QB (arm or legs) 13 19 26 31 36 52 37
TDs by QB as % of total TDs 40.6% 51.4% 78.8% 55.4% 72.0% 73.2% 55.2%
Interceptions 9 20 15 21 10 15 13
Interceptions per attempt 2.8% 3.9% 2.8% 3.8% 2.0% 3.0% 2.6%
Fumbles 33 18 27 16 21 23 14
Fumbles lost 18 7 14 8 13 12 5
Fumbles by QB 21 7 8 8 13 7 6
Fumbles lost by QB 9 3 4 6 8 4 3
QB carries (including sacks) 223 74 97 41 147 196 168
Fumbles lost per QB carry 4.0% 4.1% 4.1% 14.6% 5.4% 2.0% 1.8%
Sacks 38 26 45 14 25 34 32
Sacked per pass attempt 11.9% 5.1% 8.3% 2.5% 4.9% 6.7% 6.3%
Negative yardage plays 140 105 131 94 92 111 104
Negative yardage plays by QB 73 32 50 20 36 49 39
Explosive pass plays (20+ yards) 25 38 44 51 57 67 64
Explosive run plays (12+ yards) 65 60 34 68 55 66 60
Explosive plays total 90 98 78 119 112 133 124
Explosive plays by QB run 30 5 0 1 14 20 15
Explosive plays by QB arms/legs 55 43 44 52 71 87 79
Explosive % generated by QB 61.1% 43.9% 56.4% 43.7% 63.4% 65.4% 63.7%
First Down success rate 38.3% 54.8% 51.7% 49.3% 48.9%
Second Down success rate 35.4% 46.6% 53.1% 47.6% 44.8%
Third Down success rate 29.5% 41.9% 39.9% 40.7% 40.1%
Fourth Down success rate 36.4% 66.7% 50.0% 37.5% 63.2%
Overall success rate 25.0% 48.8% 49.1% 46.3% 45.9%
2019 success rate 40.9%