March 20, 2006 // Notre Dame Football

How Fast Can The Irish Defense Improve? (Part II)

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Going back to an earlier post and UHND blog entry of mine, I thought I’d look at some of the top defenses of 2005, but only focusing on the defenses that made the biggest improvements from 2004 to 2005, to see what’s in the range of possibilities to expect from our own Irish defense in 2006.
Defensive Benchmarks: 2005 vs. 2004

I. Top 20 Total Defenses in 2005 (vs. same team out of the Top 20 Total Defenses in 2004)

#4 Miami (9-3): 270.1 ypg – [vs. #28 Miami (9-3): 328.1 ypg]
#5 Ohio State (10-2): 281.3 ypg – [vs. #30 Ohio State (8-4): 332.0 ypg]
#6 Tennessee (5-6): 298.2 ypg – [vs. #45 Tennessee (10-3): 356.4 ypg]
#7 Connecticut (5-6): 298.3 ypg – [vs. #27 Connecticut (8-4): 327.4 ypg]
#9 Florida (9-3): 299.8 ypg – [vs. #42 Florida (7-5): 345.6 ypg]
#10 Texas (13-0): 302.9 ypg – [vs. #23 Texas (11-1): 320.1 ypg]
#11 Kansas (7-5): 303.3 ypg – [vs. #41 Kansas (4-7): 345.5 ypg]
#15 West Virginia (11-1): 310.8 ypg – [vs. #37 West Virginia (8-4): 339.3 ypg]
#16 Boston College (9-3): 311.7 ypg – [vs. #31 Boston College (9-3): 332.8 ypg]
#17 South Florida (6-6): 311.9 ypg – [vs. #77 South Florida (4-7): 398.5 ypg]
#20 Clemson (8-4): 316.6 ypg – [vs. #26 Clemson (6-5): 327.3 ypg]

#75 Notre Dame (9-3): 396.9 ypg – [vs. #54 Notre Dame (6-6): 369.4 ypg]

II. Top 20 Scoring Defenses 2005 (vs. same team out of the Top 20 Scoring Defenses 2004)

#11 Clemson (8-4): 17.6 ppg – [vs. #29 Clemson (6-5): 20.8 ppg]
#12 NC State (7-5): 17.7 ppg – [vs. #25 NC State (5-6): 19.8 ppg]
#13 West Virginia (11-1): 17.8 ppg – [vs. #28 West Virginia (8-4): 20.5 ppg]
#14 South Florida (6-6): 18.0 ppg – [vs. #94 South Florida (4-7): 31.9 ppg]
#15 Texas Christian (11-1): 18.6 ppg – [vs. #103 TCU (5-6): 33.9 ppg]
#16 Tennessee (5-6): 18.6 ppg – [vs. #38 Tennessee (10-3): 22.7 ppg]
#17 Middle Tennessee St. (4-7): 18.7 ppg – [vs. #68 Middle Tennessee St. (5-6): 26.6 ppg]
#18(t) Florida (9-3): 18.8 ppg – [vs. #31 Florida (7-5): 21.1 ppg]
#18(t) Texas Tech (9-3): 18.8 ppg – [vs. #67 Texas Tech (8-4): 26.2 ppg]
#20 Iowa State (7-5): 19.2 ppg – [vs. #35 Iowa State (7-5): 21.6 ppg]

#53 Notre Dame (9-3): 24.5 ppg – [vs. #46 Notre Dame (6-6): 24.1 ppg]

III. The point: it’s not impossible to drastically improve Notre Dame’s defense in one season.

From 2004 to 2005, in total yardage, Tennessee jumped 39 spots and reduced their yards-given-up by 58 a game.
Florida jumped 33 spots and gave up 46 fewer yards per game.
Kansas jumped 30 spots and gave up 42 fewer yards per game.
But the most dramatic increase occurred at South Florida, where the Bulls improved 60 spots and gave up 87 fewer yards per game

From 2004 to 2005, in total points, South Florida improved 80 spots and gave up 13 fewer points per game.
TCU did even better, jumping 88 spots, giving up 15 fewer points per game.
Middle Tennessee State and Texas Tech each improved about 50 spots and about 8 points per game less given up.

IV. Can Notre Dame do the same?

What were the factors that allowed Tennessee, Florida, Kansas, South Florida, TCU, Middle Tennessee State and Texas Tech to improve so drastically on defense in only one season? New coaches? Easier schedules? Better players?

Hopefully the Irish Defense can make the same kind of dramatic improvement on their rankings (#75 and #53) and their production (397 yards and 25 points per game) to join the elite Top 20 Defenses in the nation in 2006 and help us to a National Championship.

Defense Wins Championships.

Go Irish Go

Comments to this Article

  • C-Dog commented on February 2nd, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Lost in all the recruit hype, is this interesting article. I don’t get too wound up about recruiting. We’re stacked at the skilled positions. Find some 3 star atheletes, who are good enough for D-1, but have a “Rudy” attitude and you could storm the beaches of Normandy or to be contemporary, the Mts. of Pakistan to capture Bin Laden.

    I like this article because the defense will be a critical factor next year. I think if Weis finally gets patient with the run, meaning realize you have to have it, and use it to eat up clock and keep the defense reasonably rested, then the D will win you those games.

    All the talk about ND’s defensive line needing talent, well I think they did alright overall. Lack of sustained drives made that defense vulnerable last year. I also think Tenuta can further develop the linebackers they have, and Brown has done very well with the defenseive backs. IF the coaches realize that they can reach the next step, they’ll have the right piece’s in place to game plan the defense. By that, I mean make adjustments quarter to quarter, double a key receiver, fake blitzes and drop into cloud zone coverage. ND’s guys were about a 1/2 step away many times. I think they can get a full step quicker in the offseason. It’ll take agility training, and further absorbing of the defensive playbook, so the reads and reacts are instant. That’s the level the ’88 D got to. What those games and you’ll see a defense that reacted like a swarm of bees and in unison. We’re close but not quite there. Yes, next year’s defense will be very interesting, very interesting indeed.

    [Reply]

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