SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: B.J. Daniels #7 of the University of South Florida Bulls throws a pass against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Bill Connelly at Football Study Hall put out a great article today on the Notre Dame-South Florida game from this past weekend. Notre Dame put up 500+ yards of offense against the Bulls and lost by three points, 23-20. The game was stopped and restarted because of the inclement weather in South Bend which made things interesting.
As Connelly points out
four touchdowns' worth of turnovers probably would have allowed Notre Dame to escape with a win. Alas. That said, while they were unlucky in terms of turnovers, they were also pretty lucky just to get within three points. The turnovers should have led to a 20-point loss.
Yet, South Florida only won by three. The Bulls really helped their effort by winning the first quarter 13-0. However, they should have gone for three touchdowns and not one. The rushing stats for the Bulls (3 yards per carry) look worse at the end of the game than they were at the time the field goals were attempted. South Florida kicked two field goals on fourth and 1 in the first quarter. The first was from 49 yards out after they didn't want to try to convert a fourth and 1 from the Notre Dame 32. The second field goal was from a measly 17 yards out because South Florida refused to try to punch the ball in from the 1 yard line. Here's the issue (besides my hatred of kicking) South Florida was averaging 5.24 yards per carry on their first two drives. If you don't score from the 1 yard line, your opponent is more often than not making room for their punter to give the ball back to you (although you should really be playing for a safety). Notre Dame wasn't doing anything right in the second quarter so only getting three points on 1/2 from field goal attempts is not good enough either.
While I haven't finished week one's Positive Impact Factor (what's this?) yet because my computer died right before the first weekend of the season (great timing!), I did take care of this game.
Here's how the quarterbacks looked for this game:
South Florida: B.J. Daniels: 66.7
The Notre Dame quarterbacks produced a touchdown on 3.8% of their touches compared to 2.4% from B.J. Daniels. However, the Fighting Irish QBs also turned the ball over on 5.7% of their touches while Daniels had no turnovers. Looking at last year's data, Rees played below his average of 41.5 and Crist played below his average of 25.9. Daniels rose about his average of 41.6. None of the quarterbacks produced touchdowns at last season's rate, but only Crist had a sharp increase in negative plays (incompletions, sacks, fumbles) above his average from 2010. The extremely negative play factor (based on interceptions and fumbles lost) from the two Notre Dame QBs was similar to last year which is a major component to Notre Dame not winning games. If Daniels can be consistent this season, USF might live up to the preseason hype.