Potential chink in the armor?

If you’re indulging your inner Munson and looking for an area where there’s a decided schematic advantage in Notre Dame’s favor, Nathan Lawrence is here for you.

One of the very few situations wherein Notre Dame has a decided statistical advantage is on first downs. Not only has there been a large margin in the performance of these two units, the Fighting Celtic People have been a top-ten offense in first-down situations. Most of the the advantages ND has over UGA are in situations where both teams are, at best, average, 1st down SR is the only area where ND is excellent, and there is a significant gap between the two teams. One of the most worrying signs possible in the early stages of this game would be to see consistent success on first down. This would open up the playbook for Ian Book, ND’s senior QB. As more of a scrambler than a pure pocket passer, Book has shined when he can move in the pocket, keep his eyes upfield, and run against zone defenses. The unequivocally best way to put him that situation is for the ND offense to be successful on early downs. If we see that unfold on Saturday, particularly in the first frame of the game, that’s when we need to start worrying.

This is the answer to my question earlier in the week, about how can ND beat Georgia if the Dawgs’ ground game is clicking.  The Irish have to commit to winning a shootout, countering Georgia’s rushing success with their own ability to move the ball on early downs so that Ian Book can unleash his entire skill set on Georgia’s defense.  (A timely turnover or two wouldn’t hurt, either.)

That’s the only path I see for Brian Kelly’s team, because, just to beat that poor dead horse even more, they ain’t stopping Georgia’s running attack.  Just ask Nathan.

Screenshot_2019-09-20 What Advanced Stats Tell Us About UGA’s Matchup Against Notre Dame

First of all, let’s just look at UGA’s plot here. Holy s***. The dawgs are formidable on offense to this point in the year. When your radar plot on one side of the ball is basically a regular polygon, you’re doing everything right. There’s been a low-boil narrative developing across Kirby Smart’s career that he, to a fault, wants to “impose his will” or play “man ball.” This has manifested and is driven by many, many predictable offensive calls in short-yardage and goal-to-go situations.

This is the rare big game where Kirby’s natural, impose your will instinct is absolutely the correct strategy all night long.  Notre Dame has to go in doing what it can to keep up.  Georgia’s ability to handle Notre Dame’s offense on early downs will likely dictate the final margin tomorrow.


Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

21 responses to “Potential chink in the armor?

  1. Biggus Rickus

    If you’re digging all the way to first down success rate to find a statistical advantage, you should probably just accept that there really isn’t one.


  2. Greg

    Kinda scary when a team/opposition knows what you are going to do and they can’t stop it. Pretty sure that is what you are gonna see tomorrow night.

    Herschel had it right, “control the ball”…..gonna be a LONG night for ND.


    • I hope you’re right, Greg. I keep seeing haunting shades of last year’s LSU game cropping up in my head when I picture us running the ball. Any given Saturday, and all that.


      • Russ

        Yep, me too. As I mentioned yesterday, the last couple of seasons we’ve had a team unexpectedly stuff our running game. If ND does it, it will certainly be unexpected and it can give them a real chance at victory.


      • 79Dawg

        My first thought was to the LSU game last year as well, but to a different point. Joe Burrow is certainly not a running QB, but he used his wheels to convert a bunch of first downs in the first half, kept the momentum on their side, eventually tired down the D, etc. Given (as some noted below) our inability to contain Hurts in the SEC Championship Game last year as well, I would dismiss Nathan’s point at your (our?) peril…


  3. Saltwater Dawg

    I think there is another chink, and that it is much more obvious.

    Head coaching, when in-game adjustments are needed. Don’t take this to mean I’m a CKS basher, as I am fully aboard this train.

    2017 vs Auburn (regular season) – This isn’t the best example. There was the vicious crowd and there were a lot of other factors, but we did not get pressure on Stidham. In the SECC rematch, big adjustments on defense on 3rd down changed the outcome. We figured it out for the rematch, but not during the game.

    2017 vs Alabama. We all saw it. QB change required a major adjustment, and we weren’t quite good enough.

    2018 vs LSU. Coach O’ made some good defensive adjustments, and we couldn’t effectively match it. We went one dimensional on offense and weren’t effective enough.

    2018 vs Alabama. Same as prior year, late game adjustment was needed to due their QB change, and were again weren’t quite good enough.

    My biggest fear in this game is that they keep it close, find a tweak in the 4th that works and jump ahead, and we are unable to adjust to what they find.

    My hope of course is a full on Kirby-esque grinding into the dirt of the Domers.


    • Biggus Rickus

      Short of miraculously healing Walker or turning Cox into a good player, I don’t know what adjustments were going to allow them to keep Hurts contained last year. Personally, I think the staff deserves more credit for scheming around a pretty bad linebacking corps for the bulk of 2018.


      • siskey

        I agree. I think that when Hurts came in the defense was on the ropes and was unable to put forth much effort which is why the fake punt was called.


    • Charlottedawg

      There is a night and day difference between the the front 7s you mentioned and what Notre Dame has shown so far this season. I know you’re focusing on the defensive side of the ball for Georgia but In every single one of those losses the opponent was able to take away Georgia’s ability to run the ball and by extension the offenses ability to stay on the field and grind down the opposing defense. If UGA is ripping off 6+ yards a carry Notre Dame is going to have a hard time keeping up without some turnovers and special teams plays.


    • illini84

      I don’t like the near unanimity but Russ Tanner gave the reality check necessary “If you don’t think Notre Dame can beat Georgia you are dreaming”!


      • Biggus Rickus

        Several teams on Georgia’s schedule CAN beat them if things go right. I wouldn’t expect any of them to actually do it. Auburn has more talent than everyone else on the schedule, and I don’t even think they’ll stay within ten points, ultimately. History suggests I’ll be wrong, and they’ll drop one somewhere, but this is probably the most talented Georgia team ever.


      • Dawg1

        Tim Brando‏Verified account @TimBrando Sep 19

        The Georgia/Notre Dame game is not only NOT a Playoff game, it’s also IMO a mistake to have put in Primetime when LSU/Alabama has historically been the CBS Primetime decision in November. Notre Dame will likely be crushed and by November the game will be forgotten. #TheTruth


    • We adjusted well to what sounds like Lincoln Riley-Baker Mayfield type pace after getting hit in the mouth. And we stayed in a shootout with our run game.

      If you look really close when we’re humming on offense…..it’s not just pure meathead outwill the opponent. Oh, we’re still running it, but the blocking schemes (outside of 3rd and 1) are so complex it will make your head spin. And it all starts with Jake Fromm dissecting where he can get numbers on the other guy. Perfect example was one of Michel’s TD runs in the Rose Bowl where Fromm saw how vulnerable they were on one side of the box, audible’d to move michel to the other side, put it in his belly and the defense parted like the red sea because they were outflanked (not just outgunned).

      We’ve gotten good at not just presenting a defender with a blocker who is a better football player than him. He’s getting a better player coming at him when he’s in a vulnerable position.


    • Got Cowdog

      Not adjusting to Orgeron’s defense is squarely on Chaney and was coaching malpractice.


  4. Salty Dawg

    Excuse me for a quick minute or two…


  5. Biggen

    That radar plot is sick. I know its only three games into the season, but that is damn sure pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. practicaldawg

    The bad news is that they have the top long snapper in the nation:


    The good news is that he’s not on the team yet.