Irish Drive Thru

This week’s look Beyond the Numbers examines Notre Dame’s best players on each meaningful drive of the 2015 season to date.

Who are Notre Dame’s most valuable players through 10 games? How about over the last four contests dating back to a comeback win over USC?

Our weekly “Irish Drive Thru” isn’t the only measure to determine the best of the best, but tracking the Most Valuable Player of every competitive drive this season offers an illustration of the team’s most consistent playmakers over the course of a long season.

So too does our “Key Contributions” tally – that is, if a player makes a positive contribution over the course of a drive – whether said drive ends well for the Irish or not – his name is recorded.

While the results aren’t shocking (hey, turns out Jaylon Smith is good!) they are telling – with a new name rising to the fore offensively since we last published this column at midseason following a Notre Dame win over Navy.

DRIVE MVPS: OFFENSE

The number in parenthesis indicates each player’s Drive MVP award while Key Contributions (singular plays) are listed in the text thereafter.

In other words, on 22 separate drives, I deemed DeShone Kizer the MVP.

DeShone Kizer (22) – Has etched his name 28 times as a contributor including 19 over the last four games.
None (20) – That’s right, 20 game-relevant drives this season ended badly enough that I did not select an Irish MVP.
C.J. Prosise (18) – Still leads the offense with 37 Key Contributions mentions, though 25 occurred prior to the USC contest.
Will Fuller (13) – Second to Prosise offensively with 36 contributions including 20 over the last four games.
Tyler Newsome (13) – The king of flipping field position – and at least 13 times it was the most impressive aspect of an Irish drive. 
The Offensive Line (8) – The ordered list of top contributor nominations is as follows: Stanley, McGlinchey, Martin, Elmer, Nelson, Bars.   
Malik Zaire (7) – Had posted 10 contribution mentions in 1.5 games prior to injury.  
Chris Brown (5) – Highly undervalued player with 26 recorded contributions.
Josh Adams (5) – Add to that 20 contributions
Justin Yoon (5)
Torii Hunter (2) – But with 16 contributions
Dexter Williams (2)
C.J. Sanders (2)
Brandon Wimbush (2)
Amir Carlisle (1) – With 14 key contributions
Corey Robinson (1) – With 8 key contributions

-- Also winning a Drive MVP award: Brian Kelly, Nyles Morgan (ST), Devin Butler (ST).

DRIVE MVPS: DEFENSE

As noted above, the number in parenthesis indicates each player’s Drive MVP award while Key Contributions (singular plays) are listed in the text thereafter.

Sheldon Day (21) – With 34 key contributions among his drive MVPs
None (17) – Yep, 17 competitive drives and no MVP was deemed deserving.  
Jaylon Smith (15) – Leads the entire team with *39 key contributions
Romeo Okwara (13) – 9 of his 13 MVPs have occurred in the last 13 quarters.  Add to his total 24 key contributions.
Isaac Rochell (11) – Has 36 key contributions including 19 since the outset of the USC game (his best outing)
KeiVarae Russell (8) – Has made a bigger impact than you likely think with 24 key contributions, though just seven in the last four outings.
Elijah Shumate (7) – Has 17 key contributions, only five in the last four games.
Joe Schmidt (4) – 22 key contributions along the way
James Onwualu (4) – Like Shumate, I noted him for 17 key contributions.
Drue Tranquill (4) – Had 7 key contributions in 2.5 games before being lost to injury
Matthias Farley (3) – Nine key contributions
Andrew Trumbetti (3) – Eight key contributions
Greer Martini (3) -- With 11 key contributions
Jerry Tillery (2) – With 7 key contributions
Daniel Cage (1) – A surprising 13 key contributions
Cole Luke (2) --- With 14 key contributions
Max Redfield (1) – Six key contributions

-- Also receiving Drive MVP Nominations: Brian VanGorder “Not Brian VanGorder” Nick Coleman, and Equanimeous St. Brown (ST)

Top 10 Key Contributions Race:

-- Smith 39
-- Prosise 37
-- Fuller 36
-- Rochell 36
-- Day 34
-- Kizer 28
-- Brown 26
-- Okwara 24
-- Russell 24
-- Schmidt 22
-- Adams 20
-- None (offense) 20


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