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Drive Charting: ND vs. Navy

Sep 3, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT

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Notre Dame’s 50-10 victory over Navy in Dublin was highlighted by big plays, including George Atkinson‘s 56-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Stephon Tuitt‘s 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown just before halftime. But the Irish were just as dominant on non-explosive possessions.

Methodical Drives are defined as offensive possessions that last at least 10 plays. 13.5 percent of all drives nationally are methodical drives and teams score 3.8 points per methodical drive on average. Against Navy, the Irish had three methodical drives and scored touchdowns on all three:

  • First quarter: 11 plays, 75 yards, rushing touchdown
  • Second quarter: 10 plays, 80 yards, passing touchdown
  • Third quarter: 12 plays, 87 yards, rushing touchdown

Navy had a couple of methodical drives themselves, but weren’t able to drive them into the end zone:

  • Second quarter: 12 plays, 68 yards, fumble (returned by Tuitt for a touchdown)
  • Second quarter: 10 plays, 74 yards, field goal

In total, Notre Dame scored 19 points on its methodical drives and Navy managed only 3 points. The +16 net scoring on methodical drives was the biggest margin recorded by the Irish in at least a decade, as illustrated in the chart above. Notre Dame has recorded a net scoring margin on methodical drives greater than 10 points on eight occasions since 2002, winning all eight games, including each of the last two contests against Navy.

Brian Fremeau (’99) is a college football writer, stats analyst, and data visualization designer. His work regularly appears at ESPN Insider, ESPN the Magazine, Football Outsiders, and on his own site, BCF Toys. He develops and publishes numerous possession-based statistics including the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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