Irish Impact: Defensive Playmakers

This week’s look Beyond the Numbers examines Notre Dame’s top defensive playmakers using quarterback pressures, Stuffs, and our new statistic, 3rd Down “Wins” as measure.

Who are Notre Dame’s top defensive playmakers through nine contests? I’m glad you asked. The column below offers a detailed answer to that question, though defensive backs receive a bit of the short shrift in the first two sections by nature of their proximity to scrimmage.

OWNING SCRIMMAGE

The number in parentheses on the left represents Stuffs – that is, combined tackles-for-loss, sacks, and tackles after no gain, 1, or 2 yards that don’t result in a first down.

Each player’s game-by-game performance is included to show who’s trending up (Rochell, Day, Okwara…) and down (Shumate, Tillery, Schmidt…)

The best single-game effort belongs to Sheldon Day with five (vs. Temple). All six of Day’s stops that afternoon counted as Stuffs – he shared a pair with teammates. Considering the opponent, Isaac Rochell’s 4.5 vs. USC rivals Day’s effort against the Owls.

Games listed chronologically: Texas, UVA, Ga. Tech, UMass, Clemson, Navy, USC, Temple, Pittsburgh

(21) Isaac Rochell: 0.5, 3.5, 2, 2, 1.5, 2.5, 4.5, 3, 1.5
(18) Sheldon Day: 1, 1, 1.5, 1, 2, 3.5, 1.5, 5, 1.5
(17.5) Jaylon Smith: 3, 2.5, 3, 0, 3, 1, 1.5, 2.5, 1
(16.5) Romeo Okwara: 2, 0.5, 1.5, 0, 2, 1, 3, 4, 2.5
(10.5) James Onwualu: 0, 0, 0.5, 4.5, 1, 0, 1.5, 1, 2
(10.5) Joe Schmidt: 1, 1, 4.5, 0, 0.5, 2, 1, 0, 0.5
(9.5) Greer Martini: 0, 0, 3, 0, 4, 0, 2.5, 0, 0, 0
(9) Elijah Shumate: 2.5, 2.5, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0
(7.5) Daniel Cage: 1, 1, 0, 1, 0.5, 0, 2, 2, 0
(4) Jerry Tillery: 1, 0, 1, 0, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0
(3.5) KeiVarae Russell: 0, 1, 0, 1.5, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0
(3.5) Cole Luke: 0, 0,5, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0
(3.5) Drue Tranquill: 0.5, 0.5, 2.5 -- OUT FOR SEASON
(3) Max Redfield: 0.5, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0.5, 1
(3) Team: 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1
(2) Andrew Trumbetti: 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0
(1.5) Matthias Farley: 0, 0, 0.5 with FF, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1
(1) Jarrett Grace: 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1
(1) Te'Von Coney: 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0
(1) Jonathan Bonner: 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0
(1) Nyles Morgan: 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0
(1) Doug Randolph: 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
(1) Jacob Matuska: 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0
(0.5) Nick Watkins: 0.5, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0

-- Included in Okwara’s 16.5 Stuffs are a team-high six sacks.

-- Of note, Notre Dame’s shared Sam Linebacker position (Onwualu and Martini) has a combined 20 stuffs, second only to “Big End” (Rochell and Bonner) with 22

PRESSURE POINTS

How to correctly score a QB Pressure rather than the haphazard collegiate statistic “QB Hurry”? For our purposes, if an Irish defender influences an opposing quarterback negatively (at minimum forces a roll-out or quick pass incomplete), we count it as a QB Pressure.

The same is true if a defender crashes the pocket and forces the quarterback into trouble thereafter.
 
(15) Sheldon Day – Season high 3.5 vs. Texas. Day was the only Irish player to record a pressure in every game prior to Saturday’s victory over Pittsburgh when he was shut out in that regard.
(9.5) Joe Schmidt – You could argue 8.5, and judging from the message board, you probably would…
(8) Isaac Rochell – Season high three vs. USC
(8) Jaylon Smith – Has four in the last three outings (USC, Temple, Pittsburgh)
(7) Romeo Okwara – Season high three vs. Clemson
(3) James Onwualu
(3) Andrew Trumbetti
(2) Max Redfield
(2) Drue Tranquill
(1.5) Greer Martini
(1) Cole Luke
(1) Jonathan Bonner
(1) Elijah Shumate
(1) Jerry Tillery – Two times he applied pressure in tandem with a teammate

GET OFF MY LAWN!

Finally a statistic that equally values the defensive backs – well, in theory.

The number below indicates the player I credited with a “win” on 3rd Down. In other words either his tackle/sack/stuff, pass defended, interception, or forced fumble resulted in a third down stop.

Jaylon Smith 16 – Has led the team or tied for the lead in five of nine games to date.  
Sheldon Day 13 – Led the Irish vs. Temple and UMass and has thrice posted three 3rd Down wins in a single contest.
KeiVarae Russell 8.5 – Includes two picks. Prior to a rough outing in Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh, Russell was the only player to record a 3rd Down win in each contest to date.
Joe Schmidt 8.5 – Six of the 8.5 are 3rd Down pressures. Schmidt has a 3rd Down sack to his credit as well (Ga. Tech).
James Onwualu 8.5 – Registered multiple 3rd Down wins vs. Ga. Tech, Clemson, Navy, and USC.
Isaac Rochell 6.5 – Best outing was two vs. USC (sack and PD)
Drue Tranquill 5 – Ever notice Tranquill’s name is all over this column despite playing just 2.5 contests?
Romeo Okwara 4.5 – Each has occurred over the last five games (beginning with Clemson).
Cole Luke 3.5 – Includes a goal line pressure Saturday at Pittsburgh.
Elijah Shumate 3 – Each of the three wins represented by a tackle.

Others With 3rd Down Wins:
Dropped Pass/Hideous Throw 3 
Jarrett Grace 2.5
Matthias Farley 2
Max Redfield 2
Bad Snaps 2
Andrew Trumbetti 1.5  
Jonathan Bonner 1
Greer Martini 1 – Shared two plays (so 0.5 in two different games)
Daniel Cage 0.5

BACK TO BASICS

Not all statistics can be fun and intriguing as those noted above…

-- For the record, cornerbacks Cole Luke (6 PD and 2 INT) and KeiVarae Russell (5 PD, 2 INT) lead the defense in plays against the pass.

-- Safeties Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate have both posted a trio of passes defended with an interception apiece while Jaylon Smith (3), Joe Schmidt, Isaac Rochell, James Onwualu, Matthias Farley, Sheldon Day, Drue Tranquill, and Nick Coleman have all recorded a pair. Farley has an interception to his credit as well.

-- Smith, Onwualu, Day, Russell, Farley, Nyles Morgan, and Nicco Fertitta have each forced one fumble this season with the latter pair occurring on special teams. Fumble recoveries include Jaylon Smith (2) plus Devin Butler and Romeo Okwara.


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