Friday, December 28, 2012
Early did you know? Notre Dame-Alabama
By Matt Fortuna
ESPN Stats and Info has put together plenty of nuggets about these two teams. Here's an early batch of them as we approach the one-week mark before the Discover BCS National Championship.
Notre Dame and Alabama rank 1-2 in the nation in scoring defense. The Irish have given up the fewest touchdowns (10) and allowed the lowest percentage of opponents' possessions to end in touchdowns (6.9). The Tide have allowed the fewest yards per game (246.0) and plays that have gained 10 yards or more (105).
The 6.9 percent of Irish opponents' possessions ending in touchdowns is the lowest percentage for any FBS defense in the past eight seasons. The second-lowest percentage was last season’s Alabama defense that produced six players selected in the 2012 NFL draft.
Notre Dame has allowed a touchdown on 24.2 percent of its opponents’ red zone drives, the lowest percentage for any FBS team in the past eight years. Irish opponents have eight touchdowns and five turnovers in 33 red zone possessions.
The Irish have allowed minus-5 total yards on 39 goal-to-go plays, the fewest yards and average in the nation.
Alabama leads the SEC with 124 rush yards and 24 rush touchdowns in goal-to-go situations. The Tide also have six touchdowns in 13 pass attempts in such situations, though two of AJ McCarron’s three picks this season were in goal-to-go.
Everett Golson has completed at least two-thirds of his passes from inside the pocket in each of his past three games, the longest such streak of his young career. He has four touchdowns and no interceptions during the three games. That matches his touchdown total from the pocket in his first eight games of the season.
Golson completed 10 of 16 passes thrown 10 yards or longer against USC, his third straight game completing at least 60 percent of such passes. Before, he had never completed 60 percent of his 10-yard throws in two consecutive games.
Aaron Murray completed 7 of 14 passes thrown 15 yards or longer against Alabama in the SEC title game. The seven completions were the most such passes completed against the Tide in the past three seasons. Georgia was the third straight FBS team and the fourth in the past five games to complete at least half of its passes thrown 15 yards or longer against Alabama. Before, no team had completed half of such passes in a game against Alabama since Cam Newton in the 2010 Iron Bowl.
Alabama has allowed the fewest yards per game (246.0) and rush yards per game (79.8) in the nation. The Tide have allowed the fewest plays (105) and rushes (27) of 10 yards or more.
Alabama has scored 160 points off turnovers, the most in the SEC and the fourth-most in the nation. The Tide have given up 23 points off turnovers, tied with South Carolina for the fewest in the SEC and the third-fewest in FBS.
Alabama averages 6.2 yards per carry on designed running plays, leading the SEC. On such runs, the Tide average an SEC-best 4.2 yards before contact. They have made it at least five yards past the line of scrimmage without being touched on 35.1 percent of their designed runs.
Alabama runs downhill with 67.4 percent of its designed running plays coming between the tackles. The Tide average 6.6 yards per carry on such running plays with about one in every five attempts going for at least 10 yards.
On designed runs, Alabama averaged 9 yards per rush inside the tackles against Georgia, its second-highest average in a game this season. The Tide have averaged more than 7 yards per attempt on such plays since the loss to Texas A&M. Alabama finished that game against the Aggies with a season-low 66 yards on designed runs inside the tackles.
Against Georgia, Alabama ran 36 times for a season-best 298 yards with two or more tight ends in the formation. The Tide ran out of this package on 26 of their 34 second-half plays, gaining 199 yards and two scores. Alabama averaged a season-best 5.5 yards before contact out of this formation.
McCarron has completed 70.8 percent of his passes this season with two or more tight ends in the formation, including eight of nine against Georgia. With this personnel grouping, McCarron has five touchdowns, including his 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper against Georgia, and no picks.
McCarron has 11 touchdown passes off play-action this season. That is six more than he had last season. He has not thrown a pick off play-action since the loss to LSU last November. That was the only game in McCarron's career that he had more interceptions than touchdowns off play-action. He has attempted 56.6 percent of his first-down passes off play-action this season. Nine of his 11 play-action touchdowns have come on first down.
McCarron is completing more than 60 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or more this season, up more than 25 percent from last season. He is completing 76.2 percent of such passes off play-action this season, including eight of his 11 touchdowns.