7 Compelling Stats to Consider: Notre Dame v. Syracuse ’16

Notre Dame - Syracuse Stats Breakdown
Photo: Mark Konezny // USA TODAY Sports

Following a tumultuous week that saw Brian Kelly shake up his staff, Notre Dame hits the road for the first of two straight contests away from South Bend. First up is a neutral battle against a 2-2 Syracuse Orangemen squad that’s coming off a win over Connecticut. Below are seven compelling stats that Irish fans need to keep in mind for Saturday’s Notre Dame Syracuse 2016 clash:

3 to 1

That ratio pretty much defines the Syracuse offense during their four games, with the passing attack having racked up three times (1487 to 499) as much yardage as the running game. Given the pass defense woes of the Notre Dame defenders, that ratio likely sends a chill down the spine of every Irish fan.


The biggest threat that Notre Dame will have to contend with when Syracuse goes to the air is Maryland graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo. In just four contests, he’s snagged 40 passes for the above amount of yards. He’s coming off a monster game against Connecticut after grabbing 12 balls for 270 yards and two scores.


That number accounts for the amount of rushing yardage the Orangemen defense has allowed in their two losses. In truth, the Syracuse pass defense has allowed over 200 yards in each of the last three games. However, success on the scoreboard against the Orangemen has been tied to establishing a potent running game, which could mean a greater presence for Malik Zaire. If anything, it will help keep the defense off the field.


In Syracuse’s losses, they’ve been vulnerable to a streaky onslaught of points by their opponents (sound familiar?), specifically 86. Against Louisville, they watched the Cardinals run off 21 points to start the game, then saw them add 20 more to close out the 62-28 Orangemen defeat. One week later, Syracuse jumped out to a 17-0 lead against South Florida, then saw their opponents outscore them, 45-3.


Syracuse hasn’t mustered much of a pass rush this season (also sound familiar?), collecting just seven in four games. Three of those came from defensive lineman Chris Slayton, who also has a pair of quarterback hurries to his credit. Therefore, it may serve the Irish offensive line well to focus their energies on neutralizing him. Establishing the running game early will also do the job.


Thanks to 14 stops last week against Connecticut, including 2.5 behind the line of scrimmage, Orangemen linebacker Zaire Franklin moved into the team lead with 32 tackles. One of those tackles completed a crucial goal-line stand, while a pass deflection was converted into a pick-six that proved to be the difference in Syracuse’s 31-24 victory.


This number focuses on the average number of seconds it takes for every Syracuse play. This high-tempo spread offense helps explain the team’s reliance on its passing game, which arrived when the Orangemen hired new head coach Dino Babers. It also gives even more evidence as to why the Notre Dame offense should strongly focus on their running game.

The Bottom Line

Grabbing hold of their season before it completely spins out of control is the mantra for Notre Dame in this must-win contest. A third consecutive loss makes even a bowl bid start to become questionable with two Top 25 teams and two other road contests against North Carolina State and USC remaining. In short, the one simple fact for this Notre Dame Syracuse 2016 contest is that the Notre Dame defense has to step up.

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  1. I’m not going to this game because of the pathetic season the Irish are having. “A fair weather friend?”, no not really but I can’t stand to watch a team that on defense anyway is not competitive! What makes you think the new defensive coordinator will be able to change anything for an extended period? I do not want to hear, “Give the guy a chance!” When he was at Purdue, he defenses were horrible. You say he didn’t have the players, I say neither do the Irish. You can only coach up a team so much. They need to have some talent and the ND defense doesn’t seem to have much, if any! Its a must win for the Irish, just like last week and the week before that! But then again ever week is a must win at ND. The sad part about it was that ND should have and could have won all of them. They could realistically be unbeaten. Don’t laugh, the opponents they have played thus far have been far from good or even great. Wake up Irish! Switching the D boss may help slightly but when you have mediocre players, you end up with a mediocre record. Go IRISH!!!

  2. It is not necessarily fair to say they have not recruited well on defense in my opinion. Think about what this defense would have looked like had Jaylon Smith stayed for his senior year and Max Redifeld could have established some self control. Add to that Shaun Crawford and Nick Watkins, both injured and this defense looks a bit more stout.

    It is easy to say other schools play freshmen and manage to succeed, but they are not looking to start as many as the Irish defense now needs to.

    Pressure is ratcheted up and the margin of error is 0. I don’t often agree with Flutie and his comments during the game, but in the Duke game he was spot on when he said the Irish are playing scared to make mistakes which leads to poor performances.

  3. This game is a toss up. 2 weeks ago I thought this was almost a gimme, but not anymore. Unfortunately Syracuse’s strengths play right into our weaknesses. It’s the worse possible mix. I think ND will manage to score points. They have scored points all season.

    How will our defense play? That’s the question. Under BVG I would probably consider this a likely loss. With him gone, while I don’t think we see a miraculous turnaround in just a week, if the players just complete tackles that could make some difference. That’s the only thing that makes this a toss up. Is there any improvement, even a miniscule improvement in the fundamentals on the defense.

  4. The main problem with Kelly is besides hiring some weak assistants Booker and lyght he and his staff have not recruited well enough on defense. The offense is really talented, but not the defense.

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