Notre Dame goal-line defense nearly perfect
January, 5, 2013
By Toby Petitpas, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsThe Notre Dame defense stopped its opponents in almost every goal-to-go situation this season.
The Trojans had the ball at Notre Dame's 1 and had just received a new set of downs after Marqise Lee drew a second consecutive pass interference penalty in the end zone.
On first and second down, USC lined up with two tight ends and tried a quarterback sneak with Max Wittek. Notre Dame denied both attempts. On third down, the Trojans went with a handoff to Curtis McNeal. He never made it back to the line of scrimmage. On fourth down they tried play-action, but the pass fell harmlessly to the ground.
It was second time USC had failed to score a touchdown in a goal-to-go situation in the quarter and the 10th time for a Notre Dame opponent this season.
Notre Dame's defense has been great all season when it had its back to the wall. Of the nine offensive touchdowns that its defensive conceded, only five were in goal-to-go situations, the fewest among FBS teams.
The Irish did bend a few times on defense but rarely broke.
They allowed 33 percent of opponents' goal-to-go drives to end with a touchdown, tied with the 2010 Miami Hurricanes for the lowest touchdown percentage for any defense in the past eight seasons. BYU was the only opponent that scored a touchdown on all of its goal-to-go possessions against the Irish this season.
Run defense has been the key. The Irish allowed minus-5 total yards on 39 goal-to-go plays this season, the fewest yards and lowest average in the nation. Against the run, their opponents had minus-28 yards on 24 carries.
Opposing offenses were unable to gain any yards on 14 of those 24 carries (58.3 percent), the highest percentage for any FBS defense this season. Even more impressive, the Irish allowed only one rushing touchdown on a goal-to-go run. Every other team gave up at least three such touchdowns.
Notre Dame’s defense will be challenged by an Alabama offense that leads the SEC with 124 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in goal-to-go situations.
The Tide have scored at least two goal-to-go rush touchdowns in four straight games, the second-longest active streak in the nation.
They also have had success throwing the ball in these situations: six touchdowns in 13 attempts. Yet two of AJ McCarron’s three interceptions this season were at their opponents' goal line.
(For a visual explanation of Notre Dame's red zone defense, click here.)
Projecting Impact Teams in 2015 Recruiting
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35