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College Football Data Preview: Notre Dame vs the Navy

College Football Data Preview: Notre Dame vs the Navy

If there’s one thing I envy about the college football programs that are a full part of the conference, it’s the “expected” nature of the schedules. You plug in a few tuned games for the first 4/5 matches, clear out all the nerve and potential for mishaps, and then spend the rest of the season playing mostly consistent opponents. It’s not always that clean but overall it runs, at least from a data perspective.

Notre DameOur agenda historically and especially this year is terrible in this respect.

Let’s start with the top 5 competitors, go to Marshall, and work through a really bad group in the middle. And then only when we’re almost exhausted when we’re playing a fan base in another top 5 game of the night.

Oh, you guys are still interested! ?? Well, here’s a trip to the Twilight Zone of soccer strategy aka the triple option. Enjoy!

There is no shortage of chatter about the Navy game and its advantages/disadvantages on the Irish schedule. I’ve swung on either side of this fence over the years. As I sit here, Red Bull slammed and horribly failed trying to piece together a data story for the Navy’s triple-choice performance this season, I’ve never been on the side of “OK, maybe we need to rethink this.”

Or maybe the game gets out of the way early in the season. Entering week eleven of the season, my mind wasn’t too happy about a new batch of tainted three-choice spreadsheets crashing through the front door.

But here we go, let’s figure this out and see what we have.

General feature of Notre Dame

Marines come in the game 3-6. Their three wins this season came against East Carolina, Tulsa and Temple. Two of those three wins (East Carolina and Temple) were determined in overtime, So it wasn’t really the Navy’s greatest run.

The direction of registration and comparison go to the marine game.

Perhaps for the first time this season, Notre Dame comes with an all-out scoring advantage over the opponent. The Irish outnumbered Midshipmen 262-184, and the Navy averaged 21 points per game. I know it wasn’t too long ago that this scale was right down the alley of this ND team but we’ve grown from there so I’m going to act like this.

Weak Navy Attack

The Navy struck an offensive peek in weeks 6 and 7, against Tulsa and SMU, respectively. They hit a season high of 510 yards against SMU but still lost the game 40-34.

Total direction yards and comparison go to the marine game.

Some transient trouble

Even considering the triple-option strategy, it’s been a bad passing season for the Marines. One of the notable stats is that in their Week 9 match against Temple, they finished the match with a total of “zero” passing yards. In that game they only attempted two passes and completed none (including overtime).

Somehow, they won that temple game.

Pass the trend and comparison in the marine game.

The team hit a season high of 152 yards during their Week 4 win against East Carolina, averaging 100 yards per game.

Junior quarterback Tai Lavatai has a completion rate of 46% in 91 attempts. Including Temple, this averages around 10 attempts and 5 completions per game.

Passer comparisons in the marine game.

The rushing marines attack

The triple threat option makes the land game a major offensive attraction for the Navy. The team averages 236 rushing yards per game and removes Tulsa and SMU outliers from the equation that adjusts to 186 yards per game.

The trend of rush yards and comparison go to the Navy game.

The basic chaos of the triple option makes attempts to rush and average. Each load has nice visual data points if your brain is used to thinking about traditional crimes.

Guide rush attempts and comparison in the marine game.

Average rush yards per carry direction and go-to-Navy game comparison.

The stars, on the production side of things, from the impulsive Midshipmen are Daba Fofana (FB), Maquel Haywood (WR), and Tai Lavatai. The three players account for nearly 60% of the team’s total rush yards this season.

Marine rush details during the tenth week.

quiet reception group

The Jayden Umbarger’s small wide receiver proved to be the most productive member of the Navy’s receiving corps. The team leads with 16 receptions and averages 16.6 yards per catch and 36% (265) of the team’s reception yards.

The Navy will receive details within the tenth week.

The defense is hard to read

It’s the quality of the Navy’s opponents this season that makes it really difficult to assess their defense. In the first week, they allowed 202 total yards against Delaware and came out the following weekend allowing 506 yards out of Memphis. Since that swing, they mostly used to allow more than 300 total yards from opponents.

Defense (yardage) trend and comparison in a marine game.

Most of their permitted yards have come through the air. They’ve let every opponent they’ve faced this year, with the exception of Delaware and Air Force (another beloved triple option), put in over 200 yards.

Defense (yards allowed) direction and go-to-marine comparison comparison.

Important: I’m really not invested in how Notre Dame wins this game, but I can see how this statistic might open up the possibility of giving our passing game another chance. I try not to ask for too much but please don’t. It’s been this kind of season and it will really be a tough holiday season to defend the Irish when I return to the SEC country for the holidays. Attempting to reignite the stalled 2022 offensive against the Navy for all opponents will make this mission nearly impossible. Please don’t do that to us.

Defense (rush yards allowed) Direction and comparison Go to the Navy game.

The Navy has proven to be more stingy when it comes to defending against escape. But considering what we saw under the lights of Notre Dame last weekend I wouldn’t even consider the idea that we would struggle with better ball management than previous Midshipmen opponents.

I hope and dare I need a cool, calm win against the Navy this weekend. College football’s fates haven’t been particularly kind to us this season, but even I don’t think it’s going to go down so low as to deny us that.

Cheers and go Irish!!


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