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Notre Dame Football

Key individual, team stats show Notre Dame dominance

October 15, 2020

The dominance is such that a 16-point win after a three-week layoff, in an unprecedented season, against a perennial power that's talented but disjointed, almost obscures the bigger picture.

Namely, through three games – roughly 30% of its season – Notre Dame is amassing some individual and team stats that show this Fighting Irish squad ahead of the pace of its 2018 College Football Playoffs predecessor in key defensive categories and both utilizing the ground game and stopping opponents' rushing attacks, among others.

With a defensive line replacing a pair of 2020 NFL Draft picks and constantly reshuffling through three games due to COVID-19 absences, Notre Dame still is allowing opponents just 3.2 yards-per-rush – more than a half-yard per try lower than the '18 and '19 squads, which yielded 3.8 per carry.

Additionally, Notre Dame is second-best nationally in both third-down defense and fewest penalties committed. After allowing opponents to convert 39 and 32 percent in 2018-19, respectively, the trio of Duke-South Florida-Florida State has mustered just eight conversions on 44 third downs – second only to Oklahoma State's 7 of 43 defensive production among Power-5 teams with three or more games. Too, Notre Dame's defense has allowed just 48 total first downs through three games – again ahead of the pace of the '18-19 squads and tied for fourth among teams to have played at least three games.

All this, mind you, after the Irish's relative “struggle” last Saturday against Florida State and quarterback Jordan Travis, who put up 26 points and 405 yards' offense.

Still, that group was stymied to just 2-for-14 on third downs. Brian Kelly emphasized that Notre Dame will return to its attacking defense Saturday when it hosts ACC foe Louisville.

"If you look at what we felt were some concerns from last week, we tried to get the perfect call in there,” Kelly said. “At times, maybe, didn't have our players with their cleats in the ground. We're going to be simpler and we're going to attack the line of scrimmage. We're going to be a physical football team.

"There's a lot of eye-candy there. There is a lot of misdirection, but we've got to keep things simple up front. You're going to see us really get back to the basics and fundamentals from a defensive perspective."

Notre Dame's 10 penalties through three games trail only Wake Forest (9) in showcasing the team-discipline.

Individually, the Irish are shining especially with their two-pronged tailback tandem of Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree, as well as their entire offensive line. Williams is seventh nationally at 120 yards per game and tied for 12th in total rushing at 359.

The duo also are among the nation's leaders in both yards after contact and forcing missed tackles, according to PFF. Williams is 18th in the country with 212 yards after contact. tied for 12th in missed tackles forced at 19. He’s got more missed tackles forced than Clemson star Travis Etienne.

The freshman Tyree averages 4.6 yards after first contact per PFF, with 114 of his 188 coming after contact, while Williams sits at 4.2.

Along the offensive front, Liam Eichenberg isn't just the elite anchor for the Irish; he's among the best-rated players in the nation. Eichenberg's season grade is a 91.7, No. 8 in the nation among offensive players with at least 100 snaps.

The overall Notre Dame rushing attack, among the national leaders at 270.7 ypg, is simply monstrous; the Irish's 12 rushing touchdowns are tied with second-ranked Alabama for most among teams to play three games or fewer and their average of 6.29/rush is second only to Virginia Tech's 6.46/rush among P5 teams with at least three games.

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