Now we’ve got some Notre Dame football data to be excited about.
While Week’s analysis provided us with some breadcrumbs to believe that things were turning around for the 2022 Irish football program (particularly the offense), the data coming out of Week 4’s 45-32 victory against the North Carolina Tar Heels paints dare I say a rosy picture of the team’s progression. Across the board, it was a really good Saturday for the team and ND fandom alike.
While not perfect, a lot of the pieces that we’ve been quibbling about and undoubtedly making poor alcohol consumption as a result came together. Marcus Freeman and his staff, for the first time this season got a chance to exhibit for us what a good game plan, solid execution and high energy can look like for this year’s squad and I know that my liver and I are very pleased. The Tar Heels aren’t going to be making a deep run into the College Football Playoff this year but they are a solid team that the Irish dominated in almost every aspect.
So let’s get down to the data.
Notre Dame finally hit a groove with putting points on the scoreboard, tallying up 45 total points, a season high so far.
Even though it’s been agonizing to watch in real time, they’ve been consistently trending up in the points category as the offense finds its identity and mojo. This week’s offensive scoring identity was heavily characterized by a passing and rushing balance, with each units accounting for three touchdowns. The Irish defense also showed up for another solid performance, forcing UNC to score all five of their touchdowns through the air. Up until this point in 2022, the 1st half hasn’t been particularly great for the team, especially the offense. While things got off to a slow start in the 1st quarter. Similar to the Cal game they turned things around in the 2nd and went on a 24 point run that helped them pull out the win in the long run.
The Irish put up a season high (by a wide margin) total of 576 yards.
The rushing unit really built off of its coming out party in Week 3 and accounted for roughly half of ND’s total yards. ND rushers as a unit tallied up 81% (287) of the game’s total rushing yards. With regards to the quality of carries, they also shone, averaging 5.6 yards per carry compared with UNC’s 2.4 yards. Notre Dame’s defense almost completely nullified what was a prolific UNC rushing unit coming into the game.
Drake Maye slightly out edged Drew Pyne in total yards thrown but Pyne took center stage by almost every other passing metric.
The Irish QB went 71% on 34 attempts and posted a QBR of 91.4. Last game, particularly the 1st half, was kind of brutal for him and I’ve got to really respect the guy for continuing to come out and play full games of football. There’s definitely still room for improvement (i.e. better starts) but I know I’m glad that he’s seeming to be a much more viable option than we all through was going to be the case going into the California game.
Notre Dame’s backfield this week was predominately powered by Estime, Tyree and Diggs.
Estime accounted for the largest share of the workload, averaging 7.9 yards on 17 carries. He also led in overall productivity, tallying up 46% (134) of the Irish’s total rushing yards.
Early on it looked like the ND defense was going to struggle with containing UNC’s rushing game but that ended up fortunately to be far from the case. They neutralized most of the Tar Heel’s rushers and left QB Maye to carry the bulk of the team’s productivity on the ground.
Welcoming the ND Receiving Game to the Party
The ND receiving unit has had a pretty rocky start to the season but it looks like they may have found some stride in Week 4. Mayer, Styles and Diggs shone the most in terms of workload and productivity.
Irish receivers, as a collective hit season highs in both receptions and yards, with Mayer and Styles being the two most consistent contributors.
Improving Ball Movement
One of the areas that ND made the most improvement in was offensive ball movement.
Through Week 3, the team was struggling really badly in the areas of first downs and 3rd down conversions but they completely flipped the script against the Tar Heels. They accounted for 66% (35) of the game’s total first downs. The Irish also successfully converted on 57% of their fourteen 3rd down conversion attempts, compared with the season high of 31% going into the game.
From the vantage point of drive summaries, the middle of the game is where Notre Dame really did its best. Missed opportunities in the beginning and late turnovers unfortunately book ended what was otherwise a great game. Irish punter Jon Sot finally got a bit of a breather after being used a ton during the season’s first three games.
UNC’s drive summary shows glimpses of what we knew their offense was capable of going into this matchup but key stops by the defense, particularly in the middle of the game, kept them largely in check.
I’ll be honest I was wholly planning to be dealing with some much grimmer data points coming out of this game. But the game’s outcome, along with the arrival of some Fall (potentially False Fall) temperatures to D.C. are very welcome ways to be wrapping up September and going into the bye week.
Cheers and Go Irish!!