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Narduzzi, Diaco, and defense

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:25
edited by Jay, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:54

Going back to that Diaco discussion the other day, and the benefits/risks of replacing him...I suspected Diaco had a decent track record at ND compared to his peers, and wondered where his defenses ranked exactly. Over the last four years:

Scoring defense, Points Per Game given up, 2010-2013

Alabama 11.0
Florida State 15.1
Michigan State 17.2
LSU 17.4
Boise 17.8
Wisconsin 18.3
Stanford 18.9
Louisville 19.0
Notre Dame 19.1
Florida 19.3

By year, ND gave up 23-13-21-20 points per game.

These are unadjusted for SOS nor filtered for non-FCS competition, and I suspect ND would come out even better if those were taken into account.

He has tossed out a few clunkers in the last four years, but I guess this is why I support retaining him and would view his leaving as a big risk. On balance, he's been excellent. And it's notable that amid all the injuries and absences he had to contend with this year, he still turned in his second-best ppg performance at ND.



I'm just amazed this thread is necessary.

by PAK, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:31 @ Jay

Is our defense perfect? No. There are always going to be tendencies and flaws, but the performance of our defense over the bulk of the last few seasons has been top notch. Do we really not remember getting smoked repeatedly by Michigan and USC every year?


He's the best DC we've had since...?

by KGB, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:24 @ Jay

I agree with you, Jay. I believe that we could overcome Diaco's departure, but I'm not particularly eager to go down that road. I'd rather keep him on board and have him spend the offseason making a tweak or two, whether that means a new position coach (or assignment) somewhere or maybe something schematic. I'm not suggesting that we go full Tenuta, but we really need to be able to generate more pressure and turnovers than we have.


Johnny Ray

by oldcoot68, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 13:37 @ KGB

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Greg Mattison, probably

by CK08, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 13:02 @ KGB

Davie had some good defenses, just never the offenses to go with them.


Was Mattison better than Diaco?

by KGB, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 13:23 @ CK08

I agree that he's probably been the best going back to Alvarez, particularly given what I mentioned the other day about capable assistants working for shit head coaches.


One exception

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 13:16 @ CK08

1999 - offense averaged 29 PPG and 420 YPG. Jarious set single season records (at the time) for passing yards, total yards, pass attempts and completions.

The defense, with a few exceptions, was atrocious.


Since Lou Holtz coached the defense in the '94 Cotton Bowl

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:55 @ KGB

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Yeah, but Gary Darnell is gonna be AWESOME

by Dylan, Santa Barbara, CA, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:44 @ KGB

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gotta be Alvarez

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:35 @ KGB

Although statistically, the 2012 defense was the best we've had since Ara.


Using DFEI...

by DCT, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:12 @ Jay

The only teams that outperformed our defense the last 3 years are...

Using composites for the last 3 years...

Not a shabby list

Michigan State
South Carolina
Florida State


And most of those teams play in conferences...

by Jim (OFD) @, Naptown, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 14:27 @ DCT

with (generally) terrible offenses. Out of the group, I would have to conclude that Stanford is the most impressive. SEC/Big 10/ACC cohorts (combined with D-1AA opponents) will tend to skew the data.


We've played 10 games against those teams in 4 years

by Mo, Charlotte, NC, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 14:17 @ DCT

Bet no other team can claim that.

4-6 in those games.


Would we be in danger of Tillering ourselves?

by Pete, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:02 @ Jay

Joe Tiller did a fantastic job lifting the level of the Purdue football program, but became the victim of his own success when he wasn't able to take it all the way. Boilermaker fans grew restless and wanted more, and in the process ended up taking a massive step backwards.

Would we be doing the same with Diaco? Are we placing too much emphasis on a handful of accurate, but limited complaints, while ignoring the fact that we have a coach who has proven capable of producing one of the best defenses in the country?


realistically there's zero chance of him getting the axe

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:18 @ Pete

In addition to the production on the field, it's pretty clear Kelly likes and trusts BD as a key member of the staff, going way, way back. I can't see any situation where Kelly would willingly shitcan him.


Neither do I.

by Pete, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:45 @ Jay

But murky fan support is perhaps not an insignificant factor of consideration for someone like Diaco who probably could take a head coaching job SOMEWHERE at any point here.

But irrespective of what Diaco actually does, I think we're in agreement that fans may be overlooking what is a pretty darn good body of work due to some specific, but fair, grievances.


Especially given the injuries this season.

by Bill, Southern California, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:28 @ Jay

I think with all of the depth chart issues Diaco had to deal without throughout this season, Diaco did a pretty fine job (with the exception of Michigan, where Gardner repeatedly pulled plays straight out of his ass).


Diaco pluses and minuses

by Mike (bart), Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:55 @ Jay

- Coaches a defensive scheme the players understand. Very rarely have we had guys just wholesale blowing assignments, even when scraping the bottom of the depth chart due to injuries.

- Demands a high level of execution from the offense. Offenses with moderated-to-high MOEs will almost always struggle against Diaco defenses.

- Has demonstrated the ability to field a nationally elite, NC-caliber defense. Obviously, he had some amazing players assisting him in this, but show me one NC-caliber defense that hasn't. I think this is an essential point.

- Excellent short-yardage defensive play-caller. Knows when to call for wholesale penetration but has a good sense of misdirection and fakes on the goal line/short yardage. Coaches his guys accordingly. I think this is an essential point.

- Obviously fits Kelly's definition of a 'team player,' 'good program fit,' whatever (unless, of course, he's getting the pat on the back out the door).


- Cannot generate non-organic pressure. Simply put: this guy sucks at orchestrating and calling blitzes, especially from the secondary. I suppose this could get better with better personnel/Diaco attending a clinic or two.

- Evidently less-than-tireless as a recruiter. I don't see this getting much better. I'm sure Diaco sees himself in a head job sooner rather than later, so he is unlikely to redouble his efforts towards kids who will get to ND in 2016, 2017, etc.

- On MOE - the big, overriding question has to do with the awful TO/pressure numbers for 2011 and 2013. Are those a feature? A big? a quirk? I think this is probably the central question of the conversation at hand.


You neglected to mention his hair.

by JRT, Island of Misfit Toys, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 14:40 @ Mike (bart)

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Regarding your first Plus.

by Chris @, Raleigh, NC, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:59 @ Mike (bart)

"- Coaches a defensive scheme the players understand."

Yet athletically talented players like Redfield can't help us because the system is apparently too complex.

And I know that S is more cerebral than CB.

"F--- everyone who isn't us."


I don't know what's been going on at S

by Mike (bart), Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:06 @ Chris

It isn't as though Diaco has some longstanding fatwa against true frosh playing on defense: Lynch, Tuitt, Russell, J. Smith, Butler, Luke, Rochell and Okwara spring to mind just in the past couple of years.

At safety though, there seems to be some unsuccessful fetish towards risk aversion (deep drops, older/less effective personnel, etc.). If I didn't have such an inveterate fear of being labeled an excuse-maker by the Notre Dame community, I would speculate that our problems back there may be/have been related to the position coach's preseason kidney replacement, but I can't live with having those words thrown back at me so I won't.


Prediction: Farley will undergo shoulder surgery w/in 6 wks

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:21 @ Mike (bart)

for the previously undisclosed injury that is obvious. I'm guessing subluxation but I'm not licensed in this state.


I agree. Or maybe an elbow or something. But that's only

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:23 @ Buck Mulligan

half the story there. His alignment (as noted) has been lacking, and he has made some significant mental mistakes (like the first Stanford TD) as well.


Even if that's the case

by Mike (bart), Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:27 @ BillyGoat

his decisionmaking and overall effort has been pretty bad this year. Even if you've got a bum shoulder, you can give better tackling efforts than some of the things we've seen this year. That is to say nothing of the 3-4 breakaway TDs he's given up in the passing game.

Also, if he gets the shoulder surgery around the first of the year, that means he's more or less off weight training until March.


That's what I'm saying.

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:37 @ Mike (bart)

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Oh heck yeah. They all play two deep too deeply.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:26 @ BillyGoat

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by Chris @, Raleigh, NC, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:35 @ Jay

And if he could give me a little more pressure, be it by scheme or talent, I'd co-sign your post.

"F--- everyone who isn't us."


what can he do better?

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:45 @ Chris

Here is Spesh's list from the other day:

1) I believe that in 2011 and 2013, ND had its two worst seasons ever for generating turnovers.

2) I don't like hearing about not being prepared for a look, or in its most recent incarnation, that our defense is so vanilla that teams could create positive matchups by exploiting our tendencies.

3) I prefer aggression, both on offense and defense. I can't fathom why you would sit back play Stanford with a front seven instead of forcing a mediocre quarterback to make mistakes (and we saw what Hogan was capable of).

4) He is one of the weakest recruiters on the staff.

5) Whether it was because of Harrison Smith or Martin being co-coordinator, we disguised a lot more coverages and were more multiple in coverages, as opposed to the steady stream of cover two shells we now see.

6) It was plain to all that Grace was one of the top two LBs, but how many games did it take for him to earn the starting job?

7) I just don't have faith that he can really outcoach someone in a big game.


Scheme to defend the triple option

by nd94e, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 11:58 @ Jay

The performance against Navy this year was pretty awful. It looked like he figured things out after the 2010 debacle, but it was like he completely threw out the formula for stopping their attack. My defending the triple option anxiety somehow heightened with Chuck Martin's departure.


there were other differences vs Navy

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:12 @ nd94e
edited by Jay, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:29

Basically both teams were vastly different in personnel than was the case the last two years. Scheme may have been an additional issue, but consider:

* Keenan Reynolds is a better QB and a true dual-threat, much moreso than the guys we played in 2011 & 2012 (Proctor and Miller). I think we respected/feared the pass much more from him than we did the other two guys. That likely affected the strategy.

* We played a ton of new guys on defense who had not seen meaningful snaps versus the triple option. In 2011-12 we fielded a much more veteran squad vs Navy. Consider last year all the first string snaps were taken by KLM, Nix, Tuitt, Shembo, Manti, Slaughter, and Motta. So we played minus five of our most experienced (and likely toughest) players against them. Instead, Okwara, Calabrese (rarely played vs Navy in 2011-12), Stockton, Hardy, Jones, Rochell, Luke, Moore, Utupo all saw critical snaps -- none of whom had played against Navy before.

* Navy extended early drives and ND squandered scoring chances early, without which probably would have put Navy off their game and made them easier to defend.


A lot of our safety play this year has bugged me

by Mike (bart), Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:03 @ nd94e

Farley, in addition to not covering himself in glory on the field, has a fetish for starting 20 yards behind the play, even against teams like Navy (whome we gave up a long passing TD to anyway) and Stanford. I have no clue if Diaco specifically coaches this, but he obviously countenances it. It is pointless, and has resulted in "death by alignment" more than a few times this year.


Not only does he start that deep

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:47 @ Mike (bart)

He also bails at the snap, and drops another 5-10 yards.

On passing downs, the LBs in front of him drop/bail pretty hard too, which leaves tons of room for dump-offs and crossing patterns.


This was the least experienced group of safeties he's had

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:32 @ Mike (bart)
edited by FunkDoctorSpock, Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 12:49

Broken down by number of starts per class

2010 (Motta, Slaughter, H. Smith)
Fr: 0
So: 8
Jr: 5
Sr: 13
GS: 0
1 first time starter (Motta)

2011 (Motta, Slaughter, H. Smith)
Fr: 0
So: 0
Jr: 8
Sr: 10
GS: 13
0 first time starters

2012 (Farley, Motta, Slaughter)
Fr: 0
So: 11
Jr: 0
Sr: 13
GS: 3
1 first time starter (Farley)

2013 (Shumate, Hardy, Farley, Collinsworth)
Fr: 0
So: 4
Jr: 10
Sr: 10
GS: 0
3 first time starters (Shumate, Hardy, Collinsworth)

This is this the most breaking in and shuffling we've done there, and the lowest amount of playing and production from fourth and fifth year seniors at safety since Diaco has been the DC.

Beyond safety, this was a year of shuffling and inexperience, and injuries to marquee players, on defense:

2010: 15 total players starting, 2 first time starters/1 in the front seven, 29 starts by freshmen and sophs
2011: 16 total players starting, 6 first time starters/6 in the front seven, 29 starts by freshmen and sophs
2012: 14 total players starting, 5 first time starters/2 in the front seven,37 starts by freshmen and sophs
2013: 18 total players starting, 9 first time starters/6 in the front seven, 37 starts by freshmen and sophs (12 games)

That all being said, I have no idea what's happened to Farley.

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