If you had to choose the NCAA Coach of the Year in football this season, who would you choose? Urban Meyer at Ohio State? Bill O’Brien at Penn State? Nick Saban at Alabama? Chip Kelly at Oregon? The list could go on and on.
In my opinion, the NCAA Coach of the Year for 2012 should go to, as much as it pains me to say, Brian Kelly of Notre Dame. It pains me to say this because one could label me as a “Notre Dame hater” (grow up on the southside of Chicago around the stereotypical ND fan and this will happen).
However, if one looks at the numbers on defense for the Irish, they will see why Brian Kelly is this season’s Coach of the Year.
Let’s focus in on the Notre Dame defense in goal-to-go situations.
When it came to goal-to-go situations for the Notre Dame defense, they were along (if not) the best in the nation. This year, their defense allowed only five touchdowns in goal-to-go situations. More so, they were even better when their backs were against the wall.
At the goal line, opponents ran the ball 24 times v.s. the Irish defense. On these 24 goal line stands, the defense for Notre Dame actually pushed their opponents back 28 yards, which was the best in the nation. The Oklahoma Sooners were the only team to score a rushing touchdown on Notre Dame’s goal line defense all season.
Surprisingly, the pass was not much better against the Fighting Irish at the goal line. Notre Dame only allowed 1.5 yards per pass when teams tried to throw at the goal line. When it came to the goal-to-go situations, the Notre Dame defense was very hard to get past. Because of this defense, opponents only averaged 10.3 points per game.
Although, their defense was not just good in goal-to-go situation, but they were good all season (good is the most you’ll get from me Notre Dame fans).
Just like in goal-to-go situations, the run defense was top-notch. Opposing teams only averaged 92.4 rushing yards per game against Notre Dame this season. This was fourth in the nation behind Stanford, BYU, and Alabama. Opponents could also only muster up 3.2 yards per carry this season.
Overall, Notre Dame’s defense gave up an average of 286.8 yards per game (sixth in the nation).
Many could say that Notre Dame is in the National Championship because of this stout defense (or maybe because Pittsburgh couldn’t get the job done).
All in all, this is why Brian Kelly would be my choice for NCAA Coach of the Year. In his third season at Notre Dame, he has made their defense a brick wall, especially at the goal line, and has brought them to a National Championship game. If one took a look at these defensive numbers (hater or not), they would see that Brian Kelly is the Coach of the Year.
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