Advanced Stats Review: Vanderbilt

S&P+ gave Vanderbilt a 56% post-game win probability based on an advantage in yards per play, more scoring opportunities, and perceived poor turnover luck. An efficiency edge and slightly better performance converting scoring opportunities (even though it was ugly) saved Notre Dame is this one. 

Confused? Check out this advanced stats glossary.

Efficiency

Vanderbilt’s defense is a still more unknown than not at this point – they beat up on a couple cupcakes early, then were up and down against the Irish. But this felt like a strong bounce-back effort from the Ball State mess for the Irish offense. Notre Dame ran the ball on 65% of its offensive plays, including 19 attempts for Brandon Wimbush. It was a solidly efficient effort both running and passing, including the best performance on passing downs of this young season.

A key to this efficiency, though, was to avoid facing many long passing downs. The Irish ran the ball on 26 of 33 first downs, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and a 50% success rate on those carries. Against Michigan and Ball State the Notre Dame offense faced an average of close to nine yards to gain per third down attempt. The improved rushing attack allowed the Irish to stay “on schedule” against Vandy, with an average 3rd down distance to go at 5.4 yards.

The defense began the game with a lights-out effort, allowing a total of just 36 yards on the first four Commodore possessions, including three consecutive three-and-outs. On those possessions Vanderbilt had just a 17.6% success rate. Afterwards it was tougher sledding – whether by virtue of adjustments, fatigue, or Kyle Shurmur making some pretty strong throws. The run defense was stout, and combined with an early lead led Vandy to run only 25 times all game. Making your opponent fairly one-dimensional is always good, although the pass defense was a little less consistent than ideal.

Hard to factor into the stats again is the flow of the game. For a third consecutive game the Irish built an early lead, and then went flat on offense. Diagnosing the problem is impossible – is it conservatism with the lead and good defense? Issues once scripted plays run out and Wimbush has more to deal with? Early on it felt like the Irish offense had an identity – mixing in runs to the perimeter, with Wimbush as a threat, and taking calculated, low-risk shots in the passing game. That wasn’t the case later (and with the weird Ian Book packages), and hopefully is fixable.

Explosiveness

With an uptick in efficiency came a downturn in explosiveness for the Irish offense/ What caused this? My best answer is mostly….nothing. Again, we have good evidence that explosive plays are mostly random, and are best created by just being efficient. If you don’t buy that (but you probably should), you’d also likely point out there are personnel issues involved, and it’s clear right now that the Notre Dame skill position players are more Jose Altuve (singles and doublers hitters) than Giancarlo Stanton. The Irish tried to manufacture explosive passes in the first two games with long downfield passes, with mixed results.

Dexter Williams could fix some of this when he comes back, especially when paired with Wimbush, who is due for some longer runs as well. Still, I would worry far more if the Irish had been less efficient on the day – being this efficient without breaking one or two longer plays has the smell of some bad luck that should regress to the mean in a positive direction.

Notre Dame’s havoc rate ranks 38th in FBS through the first quarter of the year, a nice little jump from finishing 66th last season. The way the havoc is coming is interesting though – the pass rush hasn’t quite made the leap I’d hoped for, although some missed holds and close calls probably undersell the defensive lines effort. But the defensive backs, deflecting passes and finding picks all over the place, are fueling the effort, with a havoc rate as a unit in the top-10.

It was also a huge relief to see the Irish offensive line bounce back from the Ball State performance in terms of allowing disruption.  After making the Cardinals look like Bama in terms of havoc rate and run stuffs, Jeff Quinn’s group allowed zero sacks and few tackles for a loss. This isn’t an offense built to play from behind on the scoreboard or behind the chains too far.

Finishing Drives, Field Position, & Turnovers

Converting drives really swung this game in many ways – Vanderbilt created more scoring opportunities, but had two extremely costly turnovers to pair with a missed field goal and the late fourth down failure. The Irish barely scraped out an advantage in points per scoring opportunity, hitting three field goals (although a late Yoon stung) but at least ending these drives with a kick instead of a turnover.

With a better performance in the red zone and converting these opportunities, I think a lot of the fretting over the offense after this game goes away. The Irish averaged around 5 points per scoring opportunity last year, so just a normal 2017 performance would have led to around 30 points and a comfortable win.

The Irish also won the field position battle despite Troy Pride’s interception starting a drive at the Irish 1. Tyler Newsome, as noted everywhere, was exceptional. John Doerer was awesome on kickoffs, and Michael Young showed some great burst on a 48-yard kickoff return. This should be a strength for the Irish, although it’s somehow resulted in mediocre field position at best in recent years.

Once again S&P+ observed some turnover luck for the Irish, who recovered two of three fumbles (including the final lateral play). On film this didn’t feel lucky though – Notre Dame forced tight throws and created strips while protecting the ball very well. The Irish quarterbacks had only three passes deflected, compared to eight breakups of Shurmur. This is a case where the “turnover luck” S&P+ is observing right now is probably a little overstated, but that’s ok.

Reasons for Excitement, Reasons to be Discouraged

#1 An offensive identity seems not too far off?

Kelly and Wimbush have made comments repeatedly about this offense still searching a bit for an identity. But it feels like the approach against Vanderbilt represents what the offense should look like – a run-first attack, with lots of Wimbush runs, sprinkling in play-action to keep the defenses honest (despite 48 rush attempts, the Irish attempted just five play-action throws Saturday). The running attack shown early against Vanderbilt should be the norm – lots of options the defense has to account for, including jet sweeps and fakes that stretch the defense horizontally. If the run attack can be as efficient as it was against the Commodores, especially avoiding long third downs, it should get the offense moving sufficiently against the vast majority of opponents.

As Eric pointed out in his review, the production thus far hasn’t been getting it done, averaging just over 5 yards per play. But I wonder how much of this is the result of conservative play-calling and reliance on the defense with a team that hasn’t trailed yet in this young season. There may be a realization coming that the Irish can’t stop attacking as much (although against Ball State, there was continued attacking that went awry),

Before the year there were a lot of comparisons to 2012, and early in that season there were a lot of games that fit a similar script to what we’ve seen in 2018. Against Purdue the Irish played down to their competition and gained just 5.01 yards per play. Then against Michigan State and Michigan (4.55 and 4.78 YPP respectively), Notre Dame led from the start, and Kelly was content making opponents score enough to climb back versus making a mistake with a young QB.

Now, that stretch of three games was sandwiched by a stomping of Navy (7.10 YPP) and rolling Miami (7.62). We need to see a performance like this, and Wake Forest presents that opportunity, having just allowed Boston College to rack up 7.59 yards per play. As Brian Kelly said this week, “We haven’t attacked the defense at all times and we have to score touchdowns. We have work to do”.

#2 Wimbush has been fine with intermediate to downfield throws

We know the Wimbush weaknesses at this point. The short passing game is not his forte. If the Irish offense wants to move to a game that’s more balanced between running and a short-passing, RPO heavy scheme, Ian Book should be your guy. But if you are truly going to build an offense around Wimbush’s abilities, the intermediate and deep passing game are going to be the most important pieces.

And in those areas Wimbush has been fine, completing deep passes that led to the early lead against Michigan and performing well in the intermediate areas against Ball State and Vanderbilt. He had 11 completions of between 17 and 31 yards against the Cardinal, and followed it up completing 7 of 9 passes for 112 yards on intermediate throws (6-20 yards) last weekend. His third down performance was bad, but Wimbush also was strong in situations that prevented third downs – with successful throws on 5 of 8 situations of 2nd and 8+.

#3 The defense is carrying a heavy load

The Irish defense is ranked #5 currently in S&P+, and has been solid without dominating. Disruption has taken a slight uptick but the stats shows a team closer to the 2017 defense than one taking a leap forward. The potential is there for that leap still to happen – watching the games, this still feels like a better pass rush, better safety play, and better performance at corner. There are series where the defense does dominate.

But there’s also a huge burden on them with an inconsistent offense, and a lack of depth that is concerning. Jerry Tillery and Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill are doing everything we hoped they would do but also never coming off the field. Already some key pieces from the two-deep like Shaun Crawford, MTA, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are lost for the year. The top performance level of this defense is in a top-5 to top-10 range, no doubt. I just worry about sustainability over the year, and I think we see some of that even play out game to game as players wear down a bit.

The numbers also see the defense performing well in ways that probably won’t last forever. Holding opponents to 2.69 points per trip inside the 40 (8th nationally) is a huge testament to a great bend but don’t break effort, but also opponents screwing up field goals. The Irish are allowing a sizeable opponent success rate (68th in opponent efficiency) but not really getting burned by big plays (20th in opponent explosiveness), which will change if not patched up.

#4 This Ian Book package is dumb

An initial disclaimer: college coaches have to manage things well beyond my comprehension. 18-22 year olds are difficult to manage and develop, and maybe that plays a role here. I understand wanting to give the current backup QB, who is close in caliber to the starter, a significant role where he knows he will play and contribute every week.

That out of the way, man is the Ian Book “blue zone” package dumb. (If you missed it, BK explained that he defines the blue zone as within five yards of the goal line). Last season the Irish were a top-25 team in terms of converting scoring opportunities, and that was despite a big drop-off at the end of the season. Brandon Wimbush, who had more rushing attempts than any other player in the red zone last year, played a significant role in that. Moving the ball and scoring are harder as the field gets shorter, so why take out a guy who forces the defense to worry so much about the run?

Even throwing out that simple move, there’s good evidence that bringing in these heavy tight-end packages at the goal line and in short yardage is a bad idea. Warren Sharp, an excellent person to read / follow if you care about this kind of stuff, did an excellent job looking at the NFL numbers in these situations. This whole article is awesome and worth the read, but the highlights as it applies here:

  • Rushing is more effective than passing in the red zone and goal-line situations
  • Runs are more effective out of formations with 2+ wide receivers. Sets with zero wide receivers had the lowest goal line success rate
  • Similar NFL data has shown that run success is largely determined by number of defenders in the box, and that when it’s even (blockers vs defenders in the box), more blockers become a disadvantage.

 

It’s not apples to apples applying this data to college, but I’m pretty confident the larger takeaways should still apply. Running out of more spread formations should be more effective than these jumbo goal-line packages, and Wimbush is a better runner / gives the defense more to account for.

One quarter down, 3-0

In some ways, this team is off to a start that’s like the anti-2016 team, which was quality but lost a ton of close games. You may remember that team finishing 26th in S&P+ despite the 4-8 record, with 7.2 second-order wins. Those second-order wins take into account what “should” have happened in each game, attempting to take luck and high-variance components of the game like turnovers and look at what’s more sustainable.

At 3-0, the Irish currently have 1.8 second order wins, thanks to a couple victories in close games that arguably could have gone either way. S&P+ gave Vanderbilt a 56% win probability looking at the final stats of this game – one where the YPP edge went to the Commodores, along with more scoring opportunities and some bad turnover luck. These numbers echo what a lot of Notre Dame fans at this point feel – that this team is maybe a bit overrated (18th in S&P+) and due for a letdown any week now.

While by no means is this team a finished product, even if that is the case, I’d argue we should embrace it. These weekly reviews are a lot about the numbers and projecting things moving forward, but speaking from the heart instead of the brain for a second, how fun would it be to scratch out a bunch of close games with a clutch defense, streaky offense, and lethal kicking combination? Would anything make the Notre Dame-hating college football world madder than an Irish team like, say, 2014 FSU, that just keeps winning close games and getting hype despite not being great? I’m all for winning these ugly games, maintaining a spotless (or close record), and having Kirk Herbstreit putting us on upset alert every week.

And without getting too optimistic, the schedule makes something like that somewhat feasible. Stanford is at 27th in S&P+, and somehow is not any more efficient and less reliant on Bryce Love big plays than last year. USC is 39th, 1-2, and still is coached by Clay Helton. Virginia Tech’s opening week win suddenly looks a lot less impressive, and they are ranked 41st. Northwestern received preseason top 25 votes and just lost to Akron. I would love to see Notre Dame come out and dominate against Wake Forest, but if they win by three or something it will be time for full-on Trolltre Dame, the top-10 team everyone thinks is overrated but just keeps winning.

By |2018-09-18T20:57:19+00:00September 18th, 2018|Football|108 Comments

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Scarponi
Scarponi

But! But! BK can’t win close games!

I’ll jump on the Trolltre Dame train if it starts running!

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

If you’re gonna be a paper tiger then it’s good we have a weak schedule to help us stay as overrated as possible for as long as possible.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

The Wisconsin approach!

gbsk
gbsk

Why compare it to 2014 FSU? It seems to me that 2012 ND is at least as good a comparison.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

I keep hearing everyone refer to the scripted offensive plays at the beginning of games and how much better the offense is. But I heard BK deny that they script plays period. I can’t figure out how it benefits BK to lie, or be untruthful about this.

Scarponi
Scarponi

What BK said was that they don’t “script” plays, but they run the more familiar ones/ones that they focused on and/or went well in practice that week to get the team into a good rhythm to start the game.

This can:
1) Make it so from the outside that the first series or two looks scripted.
2) Result in people (like Michael) referring to these plays as “scripted” because it’s simpler and easier to say than “the more familiar plays that they ran well in practice that week”
3) Lead to commentators lazily referring to early plays as “scripted” because a lot of coaching staffs do script plays to start a game.

I don’t know why anyone would take it as evidence that BK is lying just because a bunch of people who don’t actually do the play calling use the word “script.” As you yourself said, there’s no motive. And my guess is Michael is not attempting to contradict BK here. (Though he can jump in and correct me if I’m wrong).

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

Yeah, I’m not accusing BK of lying. I thought other commentators were accusing him of lying. That’s why I pointed out that I saw no benefit for him to lie about it.

KG
KG

>At 3-0, the Irish currently have 1.8 second order wins, thanks to a couple victories in close games that arguably could have gone either way. ….These numbers echo what a lot of Notre Dame fans at this point feel – that this team is maybe a bit overrated (18th in S&P+) and due for a letdown any week now.

On the Sunday podcast, Bill C. said that S&P+ views ND as a 2-1 team due to the low # of 2nd order wins, which yes, fits how I feel–we’re not great, Bob. 3-0 is better than the alternatives, but we were also lucky in the game and lucky to be playing bad teams, I think S&P+ has us about where I’d rank us nationally, now that we’ve got 3 games worth of data.

>I’d argue we should embrace it…how fun would it be to scratch out a bunch of close games with a clutch defense, streaky offense, and lethal kicking combination? Would anything make the Notre Dame-hating college football world madder than an Irish team like, say, 2014 FSU, that just keeps winning close games and getting hype despite not being great? I’m all for winning these ugly games, maintaining a spotless (or close record), and having Kirk Herbstreit putting us on upset alert every week.

Again, winning ugly and looking like we’re going to lose each week is better than the alternative of actually losing games, but I wouldn’t call it “fun” at all. The 24/7 sports podcast guys (Chip and Barton, the most bro-some CFB podcast, though Barton went to Yale. It’s hilarious) was openly opining that ND could conceivably run the table, given that Stanford and maybe VT are the only good teams left, and get into the playoff, and holy crap that would be crazy….I’m so conflicted on that, because on the one hand YES YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE SCENARIO THAT GETS YOU TO THE PLAYOFF but on the other, I’m sick of the “ND only gets [bowl game, playoff talk, special ice cream, whatever] because of their name” garbage. And I’d like to be competitive in a playoff game, or even a top bowl against someone not named LSU.

TL;DR: Yes, I’d rather win every game ugly and be 12-0 as a team that stats/eyeballs say is more like an 8-4 team, but instead of fun, I just find it super frustrating, because I don’t like the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to fall and we either lose to a Northwestern or get railed in the bowl/playoff, with people hating on how overrated we are.

Then again, that’s the best we can hope for under BK, I guess. Sigh.

DrIck
DrIck

“An initial disclaimer: college coaches have to manage things well beyond my comprehension. 18-22 year olds are difficult to manage and develop, and maybe that plays a role here.”

I mean, I coach a soccer team for 4 year-olds – 9 girls, 2 boys – and I keep my kids focused w/o dumb substitution packages. My kids are operating at peak performance, which is why we’re undefeated (1-0).

Clearwall
Clearwall

Could this be epic-level trolling by BK? Like he’s intentionally calling the stupidest offense against two teams he knows he can beat on talent alone? Then when Stan comes to town, we finally go back to what we had last year and catch the Tree completely off guard? I would actually gain a ton of respect for BK if that were true.

kiwifan
kiwifan

As a girl I tried to pick up once said, “ok…..but no”.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Im thinking I need a little more context here, bud. I dont think you want to leave me with the thought I have right now. 🙂

Clearwall
Clearwall

Your comments re: #BookClub are exactly what frustrate me the most about BK. You mentioned the quote by BK and BW about how they still dont have an offensive identity yet…shouldnt that be something you have ALREADY? Isnt that what an offensive coach kind of “brings with him” when he’s hired? You dont have a philosophy or a type of offense you want to run and you recruit players who can help you dominate using that philosophy? Why the F do we keep recruiting these slow receivers who run bad routes(more this year than past) and dual threat QBs if you want them to be Jimmy Clausen and drop back and stay in the pocket? But if you have this great running QB who excels in goalline situations, why the hell are you taking him out in those GL situations? It’s maddening.
Frankly, if we’re going to embrace the whole 2-QB system, lets do this thing like we did at the beginning of 2012. Everett, you get 2 drives, Tommy, you get two drives. In your two if you look incredible, you might get a third. Dominate again, get a fourth. So on and so forth.

kiwifan
kiwifan

Weren’t Mack and Boykin supposed to be all world when we recruited them? Same with TE’s lately, highly ranked but no real splash in college? A few years ago didn’t we get the top rated TE and he ended up being used almost exclusively as a blocker in multiple TE packages? I think his name was Luatua or something like that?

As for Finke, good, scrappy guy, but he wouldn’t see the field on any of the elite teams.

I know it’s like self flagellation, but watching Bama I dream of the day we could have a stable of receivers like theirs. And a QB who leads them perfectly into big YAC.

Sigh

Orlok
Orlok

A lot of these guys never live up to their potential (as advertised by the hype-machine recruiting websites), regardless of the coaching staff. But I share your frustration, particularly with tight ends. Basically, all our good TEs seem to have come from the Weis and previous eras. I don’t know what happened.

juicebox
juicebox

Luatua ended up being a low 4 star, 3 star by Rivals. He started out highly ranked, but dropped big time during his recruitment.

I think every TE before this frosh class has been 4 star, but they are were mostly in that top 250-300 range. Mack, Wright, and Kmet were all top 100.

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

I’ve been working for years at readjusting my expectations for ND football. I was a freshman for Davie’s first year. We were only a few years removed from the greatness of Holtz’s late 80s-early 90s run. We had an 8-1 start my sophomore year including pasting national champs* Michigan. That was probably the high point of my fandom as far as reasonable expectations. With all the coaching changes and good to great seasons in between, never quite getting that ultimate goal, I am learning to scale back on my dreams.
TL;DR: If you want to cheer for a team like Bama, cheer for Bama. Saban is currently running the Greatest Program in the History of College Football. There will probably never be another run like he is having, for any team.

KG
KG

>If you want to cheer for a team like Bama, cheer for Bama.

Except that’s not how college football fandom works, at all. I grew up an ND fan. My first memories are from when we lived on campus when my dad was a grad student. I went later went to ND myself. This isn’t the NFL, where you can just randomly pick a fandom because you want to. It’s not unreasonable at all to want ND to improve and play in that top tier with UGA, Oklahoma, Clemson, etc. It’s unrealistic, of course, to expect to be like Bama, but we can aspire to compete with them, like those teams do. The whole “well, just go root for Bama if you like them so much” really bothers me, because it misses the whole point on why people affiliate with CFB teams. My choices are ND, Hawaii, or Princeton. I cheer for all of them, but only one of them would have me getting up at 3 AM on the other side of the world to follow a game via score tracker. “Go root for Bama”–no. Would I love for ND to be doing what Bama is? Absolutely yes.

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

KG, I do understand where you’re coming from. My own irrational fandom is born of attending school there and, no matter how many times I try to dispassionately analyze things and lower my own expectations, I never can. I like you struggle sometimes to enjoy the season because I’ve always got my eye on the next hurdle or the future letdown. Last season was a lot of fun until Miami, because we looked good. We were winning big and looking like a top team. And then, we weren’t anymore…

My point with “if you want to cheer for a team like Bama, cheer for Bama” is that there is no other team like them. I agree that we can aspire to try to be one of the teams that could play with them, give them a game, maybe get lucky. But no one is really even on their level at this point. They’ve won five national championships in the past 9 years. That’s Yankees-Canadiens-Celtics level domination. There has never been a run like theirs. So comparing to them is sort of a useless metric, as far as I see it.

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

Also, because I did some additional research on how dominant Alabama has been, they’ve lost just 11 games in the past nine years. They lost by 14 to OU in the Sugar Bowl, and to USCe in 2010. Every other loss, including the other two in Saban’s 9-3 “bad year” in 2010, has been by a single score. That’s just ridiculous.

KG
KG

Yeah, I’m not arguing that Bama-level is attainable. They’re on the greatest run the sport has ever seen, at arguably the time when it’s hardest to do it. I’d love to say ND’s run under Leahy was better, but it just isn’t, when you factor in scholarship limitations. Leahy could recruit whomever he wanted and stash them on the scout team just to keep other programs from having them.

Most of the time when I hear someone say something close to what you said, it’s “If you like Bama so much, go cheer for Bama”–said in a way indicating “well, if you just want a winner, go jump on their bandwagon, we don’t want you.” I appreciate you responding and explaining that isn’t where you are coming from, that it’s more “look, there’s no one like Bama, and no one else is going to be like Bama, so if that’s what you want, Bama is your only option.” I can agree with that, though when that Death Star isn’t your team, I think it makes you more likely to cheer against them.

(Honestly though, I’ve kind of lost the will to cheer against Bama actively, and now just watch in awe, especially this season with Tua. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and they’ll be the Patriots and run into the NY Giants at some point, but I doubt it)

KG
KG

Dell Alexander is a dud as WR coach in my book. We seem to like recruiting WR’s “with potential” (and I don’t think he recruited Boykin or Claypool) but he’s done very little with that potential.

a domer
a domer

“Brandon Wimbush, who had more rushing attempts than any other player in the red zone last year, played a significant role in that. Moving the ball and scoring are harder as the field gets shorter, so why take out a guy who forces the defense to worry so much about the run?”

Later in this section you talk about how running near the end zone is more effective when the defense is more spread out i.e., two or more WRs. Obviously we’ve only run heavy formations with Book in the game so far, but I might argue that if you spread the defense out with Wimbush in, the defense will respect the pass less. As you say, Wimbush is the guy who forces the defense to worry so much about the run.

Also, I don’t agree that “Wimbush is a better runner / gives the defense more to account for” is necessarily the case when you need five or fewer yards. I think both QBs are probably close to equally capable of getting five yards rushing on a given play. Where Wimbush has a huge advantage is his potential to turn those five yards into 50. That advantage is obviously less valuable when you only need five. I’m not sure this distinction matters much if we’re only going to see Book under center with 7 linemen, 2 TEs, and a RB, but on a conceptual level I don’t think switching to Book in short yardage is bad just because Wimbush is ostensibly the better runner overall.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Agreed. I think people typecast players too often. White QB, he’s obviously slow and only a pocket passer. White WR, he’s a gadget player and only good as a slot rec. Book looks to have decent, but not elite, speed and is not a statue in the pocket. I mentioned to someone last week, he’s like an Eli Manning without the great arm. He’s not a complete statue but he’s not going to torch you for 50.

DrIck
DrIck

Interesting that now this chart:comment image

has USC as the least-likely win on the schedule, slightly less probable than a VT or Stamford win. And almost 30%(!) less (fewer?) likely than a FSU win.

Scarponi
Scarponi

Well FSU has looked horrendous, and I think Stanford is better than USC, but we have them at home and I think S&P+ gives something for that.

What’s crazy is despite going from only 2 confirmed wins and a 40% chance to lose to Vandy last week, our victory did not increase our season’s total expected wins even a 10th of a point! The advanced stats liked our win so little that the gained ground of the win was completely eaten up by the drop in projections against future competition.

KG
KG

WOO BABY EXPECTED TO WIN EVERY GAME WE’RE GOING 12-0 PLAYOFF HERE WE COME GO IRISH!!!

(Trying the whole optimism thing, since Michael makes it sound so appealing)

DrIck
DrIck

I’m curious to see this same table for other teams – FSU, Illinois, ASU, TTU, Buffalo & UK. Would optimism be heightened then?

DrIck
DrIck

Just looked at some of those teams – oof. Straight down green boxes to get to 3 wins for FSU. Optimism looking good now.

Scarponi
Scarponi

He’s got a chart with all teams in order of expected wins as well:
comment image

According to that we’re projected to come out better than all but 10 teams total, and all but 7 power five teams.

KG
KG

@ Remembering this discussion will be so much fun when we lose this weekend to Wake Forest. @

juicebox
juicebox

I would be so happy if this is how the season finished.

KG
KG

North Texas claims the UCF national title.

KG
KG

HOLY CRAP I scrolled all the way down and the logo he’s using for UCONN is the “Sad Husky” and I just lost it laughing.

DrIck
DrIck

2009 🙁

KG
KG

I’d laugh less if we were playing them.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

I really love this chart – do you pull it together? If so, thanks!

DrIck
DrIck

No – Michael Bryan posted it in the Michigan Advanced Stats post

kiwifan
kiwifan

Last game of the season, maybe the expectation is USC revives itself by then. Interesting that our likelihood of beating them went down 6%.

Clearwall
Clearwall

*Less

DrIck
DrIck

(I know)

juicebox
juicebox

Everyone is ripping on this blue zone thing with Book. But hasn’t it been quite successful?

KG
KG

Well, generally speaking, teams have a high rate of successful scoring when given chances inside the 5 yard line.

juicebox
juicebox

Does that somehow mean it hasn’t been successful? I believe Books first 3 snaps were TDs. He is 3-3 passing on the year, with a TD. Of all the things to complain about, not sure how this even makes the list.

KG
KG

No, it means that you can’t say it’s been successful because of Book, when it’s just as likely it would have been successful with Wimbush. There’s nothing to indicate putting Book in vs. leaving Wimbush in results in that success. For evidence, I’ll point to all of last year in the Red, White, Blue, and Chartreuse zones.

juicebox
juicebox

But it also doesn’t mean it’s bad. And so far there hasn’t been a problem with it. This is just looking for something to complain about.

KG
KG

You’re right, that’s exactly what it is–questioning something when the logic used to explain it doesn’t align with what people see. So people are going to pick it apart in order to try to make some sense of it.

DrIck
DrIck

I’m with KG here. Not to get political, but saying Book has been successful in the Blue Zone is somewhat akin to saying the economy has been great with Trump in office. Yes, it has, but how’d it get there? Do we now get to say that Book is a successful QB because of his first 3 snaps, or do we need to look at how the team got in a better position to score? Because Book doesn’t fumble on the 2 yd line makes him successful?

My bigger issue is still it takes BW out of the game, even for a play. Let the starter finish the drive. Let him get his mojo/moxie/momentum/other “mo-” words by scoring “easy” TDs. Have the whole 1st team. (Me no good with words sometimes – basically, let BW score the damn TDs) Putting in Book just screams “we don’t trust BW” – They aren’t using him as a Tebow-esque QB, so why do it?

KG
KG

I’m just happy I got to use the word “chartreuse” today.

DrIck
DrIck

My 4 year old once pointed to a shampoo bottle and told me it was chartreuse – I have no idea if he was correct, but I suspect he was.

kiwifan
kiwifan

Please stay away from politics if you don’t want to generate a whole different experience on this site. Stick to football.

Juicebox, why not just take a few weeks off from football if you’re not enjoying it? Or off the internet about it if that’s the source of your angst? Not saying that in anything other than friendly advice.

DrIck
DrIck

I..I….I didn’t get political. I made an analogy.

Maybe don’t opine about whether or not other people should be on this site – stick to football.

kiwifan
kiwifan

Pick another analogy, politics is a two sided street. I said nothing about who should be on this site. Maybe read with more comprehension.

DrIck
DrIck

Don’t know how you’d suggest accessing this site if it isn’t via the internet “Or off the internet about it if that’s the source of your angst?”

Also, I’ll pick whatever analogies I choose. You can get your undies in a bunch if you’d like, but all the adults seem to have either A) not read it, or B) understood it just fine.

kiwifan
kiwifan

Your first sentence is nonsense, but if it makes you feel intelligent go for it.

In today’s politics using the president’s name is enough to trigger some people, and besides that the analogy was pretty lame. I could tell you why but that’s not what this site is for.

DrIck
DrIck

Sounds like it triggered ONE person, but OK.

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

Speaking of short yardage, a new complaint on NDN, that I actually thought was valid, was that we didn’t try to make the first down on 3rd&4 at the end of the game, but instead ran backwards “to run clock,” and brought up the spectre of the Jarious Jackson intentional safety in 1998. I have to say, it is kind of sad not to just say “we need a first here to kill the game, so we’re just going to run for 4 yards,” and I’m not sure what the logic was with that play call.

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

My take watching it live was it was a bootleg for wimbush to get the first down that was well-defended.

Whatever the plan was, I find it concerning that we didn’t think we had our good chance to get four yards against Vanderbilt.

KG
KG

Anyone know what the deal was with BK’s comments on Vandy’s cut blocks (on defense?!) and Mason getting pissy in response? I read ESPN dot com’s article on Mason’s comments, and it didn’t really explain a lot. Seems…strange. Like…Vandy’s DE’s were cutting Alize Mack? How…how does that even happen?

gambit1077
gambit1077
KG
KG

Seems a really odd fight to pick.

gambit1077
gambit1077

By Mason or Kelly? I’d tend to agree with BK that the low hit there, while legal, accomplished nothing for the defense other than a chance to injure an offensive player.

KG
KG

Both, actually. Kelly could have pointed that out as a play with some different phrasing that didn’t paint Vandy as a dirty team. Mason didn’t really need to bow up and basically challenge Kelly to a fight, either, though. It just seems kind of silly on both sides.

gambit1077
gambit1077

I’ll agree with that. Although Kelly wasn’t really trying to pick a fight. He mentioned that Mack took the low hits during a pretty long answer praising Mack for playing a great all around game that included promising to send that game tape to NFL scouts.

KG
KG

The 24/7 Sports podcast guys were wondering if there was some sort of history there, maybe from when Mason was at Stanford. I think it’s a stretch, but whatever.

Publius2010
Publius2010

I am shocked that someone from David Shaw’s coaching tree would be a little bitch

gambit1077
gambit1077

NBCSports is helping spread a rumor that Ian Book is now the starting quarterback for the Irish, which would be an incredibly weird decision.

Who will throw the majority of those passes this week?
When various national handicappers begin citing multiple sources within the Notre Dame program saying junior Ian Book will start at quarterback, it is eyebrow-raising.

https://irish.nbcsports.com/2018/09/20/things-to-learn-will-notre-dames-offense-show-up-on-its-first-road-trip/

juicebox
juicebox

Is Wimbush on the double secret suspension so popular these days?

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

He did look like he was grimacing and messing with his ankle at the end of the game when Book threw that TD to Weishar

juicebox
juicebox

That makes me a sad panda

KG
KG

Yes, but they’re only enforcing his suspension in the “Blue Zone”

juicebox
juicebox

This article reads like someone who isn’t particularly familiar with the team. NBC used to have a great ND dedicated writer, Keith Arnold maybe? Is this just a national football blogger?

dannan14
dannan14

Douglas Farmer is Keith Arnold’s replacement

juicebox
juicebox

Cool. I used to like Keith. Do you read the new guy much? Any good?

dannan14
dannan14

Not as good. Decent writer, but seems like the kind of guy using sportswriting to build toward another journaistic path.

KG
KG

Farmer’s an ND grad, but way less passionate about the team than Keith was. He mostly toes the NBC company line in trying to make the TV broadcasts sound compelling so people tune in, and he’s written pieces that come off as “I’m a journalist first, an ND grad somewhere around 43rd…please believe I’m objective.”

Which is fine, but you’re on the “Irish.nbcsports.whatever” blog, not ESPN. It’s okay to actually have some feelings about the team.

juicebox
juicebox

Thanks for the info, guys. That sounds about right from the one article I read.