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Just The Sports: Notre Dame Defense Pt. II

Just The Sports

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Notre Dame Defense Pt. II

To criticize Notre Dame's 2006 defense for not creating as many turnovers as the 2005 version is to show a complete misunderstanding of what goes into a defense creating turnovers. The truth is that the reason why Notre Dame has fewer turnovers this season has nothing to do with a lack of skill on the part of the players, but has to do with the differing game situations the defense has found itself in.

Concerning interceptions, since Notre Dame had 13 interceptions last year to 10 this year, the casual observer of the game, or most sports writers, will say that Notre Dame's 2005 defense must have been better at catching opposing quarterbacks' passes. However, it only appears that Notre Dame in 2005 was better. As I mentioned yesterday, Notre Dame has faced fewer pass attempts per game in 2006 than in 2005 (25.4 per game to 34.2 per game) so when you factor in the number of pass attempts faced, you find that the two teams are really almost identical in terms of interception passes. This season Notre Dame has an interception for every 30.5 passing attempts and last year the defense had an interception for every 31.5 passing attempts.

As for fumble recoveries, what we are really witnessing is a regression to the mean for Notre Dame. Recovering fumbles is not a repeatable skill and with the usual recovery rate hovering around 50%, Notre Dame in 2005 was extremely lucky when recovering nine fumbles in eleven chances for a recovery rate of 82%. Fast forward to 2006 and Notre Dame's defense has recovered seven fumbles in twelve chances for a recovery rate of 58%, which is a lot closer to a team's expected fumble recovery rate, so to blame Notre Dame this year for not being as lucky as they were last year is to show your ignorance to the world.



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