Stats and Stuff

*The second half defense for Notre Dame has been quite the contrast from the first 30 minutes of action. The Irish have allowed 53 points in the second half, which is less than the points allowed in the first and second quarter respectively. Give credit to defensive coordinator Rick Minter for the halftime adjustments.

A possible reason behind the solid second half play: the opening drive after intermission. This is the first possession results after halftime for Notre Dame opponents: vs. Georgia Tech, one first down and punt; vs. Penn State, Tommy Zbikowski 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown; vs. Michigan, one first down and punt; vs. Michigan State, three and out; vs. Purdue, three and out; vs. Stanford, a Notre Dame pass defensive pass interference and punt; vs. UCLA, three and out; vs. Navy, three and out. For those keeping score at home, that's four three-and-outs, three first downs and then punt and one fumble return for a touchdown. The Irish defense sets the tone early in the second half for the rest of the contest.

*The Notre Dame offense stuck to their M.O. on Saturday and was aggressive in fourth down situations. The Irish were 3-for-5 on fourth down in the win over Navy. For the season, Notre Dame is an incredible 17-of-23 for a conversion rate of 74 percent. It's almost as if head coach Charlie Weis is playing the video game, Madden '07, where users usually risk it on short fourth down distances. But as the success rate will tell people, it's been highly productive.

"If you're on your own 40 yard line, you're too long to kick a field goal," Weis said on Sunday. "But then if you punt the ball, you might only need 15 yards.

"It affects your play calling when you know when you make a call on 2nd down that you know you're playing for two downs instead of one down. It gives you a much wider range of things that you could end up calling. I don't know how everyone else thinks, but I know that the wind and how long you can make a field goal from and pooch punting and all those things factor in when I'm making those calls."

*The weekly Geoff Price watch: the senior punter could have used his Saturday afternoon time more wisely. Price did not record a single punt because of the dominating showing by the Notre Dame offense. For the season, he's still on track to break Craig Hentrich's single season punt average of 44.9. Price's current average is 45.3.

*A quick glance at North Carolina: they are one bad team statistically. The Tar Heels have had a tumultuous season to say the least. Their head coach, John Bunting, was fired effective at the end of the season. North Carolina currently is 1-7 and losers of five in a row. They haven't beaten a Division 1A opponent this season. On offense, the best North Carolina ranks is 83rd nationally in rushing offense. Defensively, they are a little better but not much. They're a respectable 35th in pass defense but 93rd overall, 108th in scoring defense and 115th in rushing defense. Notre Dame just came off their best offensive performance of the season. It could be two solid weeks in a row for Brady Quinn and the boys.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories