Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

Beyond the Numbers

Our weekly examination of Notre Dame’s most important plays and the players that made them – and what each indicates going forward.

CHAIN GANG
Which Notre Dame skill position players churn out the most important yards each week? Saturday night it was the team’s bevy of pass catchers as Irish wide receivers combined to catch 17 passes, 15 of which went for first downs or touchdowns.

-- RB C.J. Prosise (6 First Downs) – All via the rush. Of note, none of Prosise’s chain-moving carries occurred on 3rd Down. His only 3rd Down rush resulted in a 6-yard loss on 3rd-and-2.
-- WR Will Fuller (5/2TD) – First down receptions covered 66 (TD), 30, 19, 16 (TD) and 13 yards including two conversions on 3rd Down. A third 3rd Down reception resulted in lost yardage, an ill-advised bubble screen.
-- WR Chris Brown (3/1TD) – Kicked off the festivities with a clutch 3rd-and-7 grab of 17 yards over the middle, then concluded the proceedings with an easy score from six yards out. He added a 15-yard grab along the way, again between the numbers.
-- WR Amir Carlisle (3) – Each of his three grabs resulted in first downs – and all occurred on 1st-and-10 – with gains of 13, 17, and 26 yards. A healthy Carlisle is a weapon in Brian Kelly’s offense.   
-- WR Torii Hunter (2) – Two catches, two first downs including a 3rd-and-5 conversion resulting in 11 yards.
-- WR Corey Robinson (2) – Including one on 3rd-and-15
-- QB Malik Zaire (2) – Two Zaire rushes moved the chains including one on 3rd-and-5. He likewise passed for 15 first downs including a 4 for 6 effort on 3rd-Down conversion attempts.
-- RB Josh Adams (2/Both TD) – Two rushing touchdowns among his five attempts totaling 52 yards. Did not carry on 3rd Down.

Adams’ fellow freshman Dexter Williams produced a pair late in the contest (both on 3rd-and-short) while starter Tarean Folston gained 15 yards and a first down on the snap that ended his 2015 season. Notre Dame picked up two more courtesy Texas penalties.

With Folston’s injury, Prosise becomes the odds-on favorite to lead the Irish in this all-important category in 2015.

ZAIRE’S TARGETS
Expect more of the same throughout 2015, with Will Fuller (119 targets last season) leading the way most weeks and enviable balance resulting behind. Zaire was 17 for 17 in pass attempts to his wide receivers Saturday night.

Fuller (7) – 7 receptions
Brown (3) – 3 receptions
Carlisle (3) – 3 receptions
Hunter (2) – 2 receptions
Robinson (2) – 2 receptions
Durham Smythe (2) – A catch in the flat (stopped short of the sticks) and an incomplete pass behind him.
Prosise (1) – Caught a short swing pass
Aliz’e Jones (1) – Dropped a hitch route
Tyler Luatua (1) – Pass sailed out of bounds

BIG CHUNKS
Fuller was the runaway leader in this category last fall (19 gains in excess of 20 yards) and that manifested Saturday night as well. Fuller last year led the Irish in gains of 20-plus (10), 30-plus (5) and 40-plus (4).

Fuller (2) – 66 yards (TD) and 30 yards
Carlisle (1) – 25-yard catch-and-run
Adams (1) – 25 yards untouched for a score
Robinson (1) – A juggling 20-yard gain on 3rd-and-15
Hunter (1) – His 20-yard reception ranks as the longest of his career to date.  

STUFFS, SACKS AND TACKLES FOR LOSS
Sacks and tackles for loss (TFL) are self-explanatory. “Stuffs” as noted in a summer column, is the Irish Illustrated statistic that tracks tackles after short gains (0, 1, and 2 yards not resulting in a first down). Of note, in college football, every sack likewise counts as a TFL.

  • Jaylon Smith (3): Two stuffs and a sack
  • Elijah Shumate (2.5): Includes a facemask penalty that negated one of his tackles for loss.  
  • Romeo Okwara (2): Stuffs on consecutive snaps to force a Texas FG

-- Sheldon Day, Daniel Cage, Joe Schmidt, Doug Randolph, Jerry Tillery each recorded one apiece, with Tillery’s counting as a sack. Cage and Schmidt were in on two separate stuffs, sharing them with Irish teammates.

Also sharing a stuff were Nick Watkins and Drue Tranquill (thus 0.5 apiece), Max Redfield (with Shumate), and Isaac Rochell (with Schmidt and Cage) on third down.

-- The 2014 Irish were led by Smith with 28 total (combined TFL/Stuffs) including 19 stuffs, with Isaac Rochell (24.5) and Joe Schmidt (19.5 in 8.5 games) finishing second and third, respectively. Nose tackle Jarron Jones, out for the season with a torn MCL, tied Schmidt with 19.5 combined stuffs/TFL in 10.5 games played.

PENETRATION AND PRESSURES
Quarterback hurries is an inconsistently tracked, arbitrary and unofficial statistic. (For instance, Justin Tuck finished with a program record13.5 sacks in 2003 but was credited with one pressure. Impossible.)

After a full film review, the follow Irish defenders applied pressure on Texas triggermen:

-- Sheldon Day (3.5 pressures)
-- Drue Tranquill (2 pressures)
-- Isaac Rochell (1.5 pressures)
-- Andrew Trumbetti (1 pressure – you could argue 1.5)
-- Jonathan Bonner (1 pressure)
-- Greer Martini (1 pressure)
-- James Onwualu/Jaylon Smith (1 pressure apiece/same snap)

Notre Dame’s official tally for the game was eight (including 4 for Sheldon Day rather than the 3.5 noted above).

DOWN THE FIELD
Texas rarely stressed the Irish secondary deep, but part of our 2015 tracking system includes “Coverage Wins.” The Irish fared well in limited opportunities.

Cole Luke (2) – Stopped a go-route late in the first half and a 3rd-and-9 throw in the second, officially receiving one pass breakup on the stat sheet.
Max Redfield (1) – A late-game hit to ensure an incompletion
Devin Butler (1) – Quality coverage on a first half seam route
Nick Coleman (1) – Defended a late-first half deep ball with solid position

-- We’ll also track “Coverage Losses,” only one of which occurred Saturday: A post route that beat KeiVarae Russell for 48 yards to set up Texas’ only score.

PENALTIES AND PROBLEMS
The Irish didn’t incur a defensive penalty, though linebacker Jaylon Smith drew one (holding) as did running back C.J. Prosise (horse-collar). Backup QB DeShone Kizer drew a late hit out of bounds on the final series and Max Redfield drew a personal foul when he was smacked in the face. 

-- Nick Martin, Quenton Nelson, Steve Elmer, and Ronnie Stanley were all flagged for false starts/procedure penalties and Drue Tranquill lined up offsides on kickoff.

-- I tagged the following defenders for definitive missed tackles over the course of the contest: Max Redfield (2), Joe Schmidt, Elijah Shumate, Drue Tranquill, Nyles Morgan, and Jaylon Smith.

-- Per Pete Sampson, Schmidt was the most targeted Irish defender in pass coverage. In one such instance, a rare mis-read by Schmidt resulted in a 30-yard gain on a tunnel screen.

-- For the first time since the 2013 season, no Irish receiver drew a pass interference or holding call against the secondary – too open, perhaps.

And there’s your Week One look Beyond the Numbers…


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories