As some of you may recall, while previewing Michigan State, I took a look at how well both MSU and Notre Dame have been utilizing their time of possession. After all, it’s one thing to possess the ball for any period of time, but it’s quite another to actually do something productive with the ball while you’ve got it. And sure, there’s plenty of relatively difficult to quantify benefits to simply “matriculate the ball down the field” to engage and defeat the opposition in the “field position battle,” but it’s also really awesome to score points while you’re doing that. In fact, some might even argue points matter more than anything. Yep, can you believe that? So out of curiosity I’ve decided to continue tracking this metric of quality time-of-possession under then column “Time Well Spent” as an experiment and thus far the results are at best interesting, and at worst completely indicative of nothing.
Simply, “Time Well Spent” is the total time an offense spends in possession of the ball while on a drive that ultimately scores points.
So here’s what we’ve got so far for the Irish’s Time Well Spent.
|Opponent||Time of Possesion||Time Well Spent||% Well Spent|
Such a curious thing. Easily the Irish’s “best” win of the 2 thus far was against Michigan State, beating the Spartans by 18 points in a series where the Irish usually barely win by more than a score of late. And, somewhat sensibly, the Irish also enjoyed their best Time Well Spent of the season, nearly spending half their time with the ball on drives that ultimately scored points.
But in a complete turnaround from the previous week, the Irish’s Time Well Spent plummeted last weekend to it’s worst number yet, 15.81%, more than 8 percentage points worse than the USF game, despite only killing drives 2 times versus Pitt with turnovers as opposed to 4 times (plus that last T.O. on the final kickoff) against USF. And yet last week the Irish still pulled away with a win.
Even more baffling, against MSU, while the Irish spent nearly half of their Time of Possession on scoring drives, one of the Irish’s touchdowns came on a 0 minute “possession” while returning a kickoff for a touchdown. And against Pitt, the Irish had one 14 second drive when Jonas Gray ran the ball 79 yards for a score.
At this point, I’ve got my doubts about this little experiment, but I’ll continue to pursue it throughout the season and post updates on my findings on semi-regular intervals. Once the first BCS rankings are published, I’ll take the top-5 programs and calculate their game-by-game TWS metrics to see if any patterns exist there and compare those numbers to the Irish.
And now, Don Henley…