Breaking it down: Using data to predict Hartman’s 2023 stats
Thomas Zwiller | Monday, April 24, 2023
When Sam Hartman transferred to Notre Dame in January, the graduate student brought a complete resume.
In his five years at Wake Forest, the quarterback amassed 944 completions for 12,967 yards and a whopping 110 touchdowns.
Hartman’s time at Wake Forest alone has allowed him to enter the history books of college football, where he has climbed the ranks, joining that of Russell Wilson and Colt McCoy, to name a few.
Hartman’s completions place him in 52nd in all of college football (dating back to 1956). His 1,597 attempts land him 35th, passing touchdowns rank him 18th and his passing yards 19th.
After Saturday’s Blue-Gold game, Hartman has solidified his spot as the frontrunner for the starting job next season, which has felt like an inevitability. You do not recruit that resume, talent or athletic ability to have it sit on the bench in Dublin.
So, the question becomes, as the presumptive starter heading into the summer: how high can Hartman climb the leaderboards?
Hartman should have 12 games (13 if he plays in Notre Dame’s bowl game) to add to an already impressive legacy. For those of you who do not already know the Notre Dame 2023 football schedule by heart, here it is:
Notre Dame opens Week Zero (Aug. 26) in Dublin against Navy and then hosts Tennessee State in Week One. The Irish continue their home stretch with North Carolina State, Central Michigan and Ohio State. Notre Dame then has back-to-back road games against ACC opponents Duke and Louisville.
Notre Dame returns home on Oct. 14, when they play USC before a bye week. Then on Oct. 28, they host Pitt. The Irish hit the road against Clemson, then a bye, before Senior Night against Wake Forest.
The Irish finish their season at Stanford before waiting for a bowl game (hopefully to the College Football Playoffs).
To make a projection, there are three main things worth factoring in.
First, how Notre Dame has performed against a given team in the past. To ensure this is a current estimate, I plan to use any matchups against a team in the last four years as current data.
Second, how Hartman has performed against a given team in the past. This works out because Hartman played in the ACC and has faced the ACC part of the schedule.
Third, how that team performed against its schedule in the past, in case Hartman and Notre Dame have not played an opponent.
At Wake Forest, Hartman played five of Notre Dame’s future opponents: Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina State, Duke and Pitt. Hartman played Louisville five times in his career and Clemson four. When playing Louisville, Hartman averaged just over 242 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and an interception while going 17/31. Against Clemson, Hartman averaged 226 yards, 1.75 touchdowns and .5 interceptions on 16 completions of a possible 28.
North Carolina State was his second most-played opponent, with the Demon Deacons playing the Wolfpack three times from 2020 to 2022. Hartman averaged his second-highest yard total of 307 yards on 24 attempts while going 2-2 on touchdowns to interceptions.
Next came the Blue Devils, whom Hartman averaged 375 yards against in the two times he faced them. He also had his highest touchdown average (3) while keeping his interceptions to his lowest total (.5).
Pitt, whom Hartman played in the 2021 ACC Championship, seemed to give the QB fits. Hartman had four interceptions on his 46 dropbacks and had 213 yards.
The Irish have played four opponents on this year’s schedule that their new QB has not: USC, Navy, Stanford and Ohio State.
The low performance of the bunch was, of course, Ohio State. On 18 pass attempts, the Irish had a completion percentage of 55 and only 177 yards. Notre Dame has fared well against the remaining three opponents, averaging over 230 yards for each. Against USC, the Irish have averaged over 1.5 touchdowns through the air, with less than one interception. Navy allowed over three and only picked off the Irish once in 2022. Stanford has only gotten one interception (in 2021) while allowing at least two touchdowns a game.
The last time the Irish played Wake Forest was back in 2018, just one year outside the sample size I took. So, I used Wake’s defensive averages from last year. I did the same for Central Michigan.
For TSU, whom I had no priors for (as they are an FCS team), I inserted an above-average performance for Hartman (though, in all likelihood, he will not play in the second half.)
Let’s do the numbers
For the games with common opponents (Duke, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Clemson), I used the following: Hartman’s priors (yards per completion and completions per touchdown/interception) and Notre Dame’s pace of play (average completions and attempts).
For those games, I got the following stat line: On 113 attempts, 65 completions, 865 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. In this section, I readily admit that Pittsburgh skews the numbers because of the one-game sample size, so I tweaked the interaction calculation.
For the Notre Dame only teams (Navy, USC, Ohio State and Stanford), I did the same thing: Hartman’s ratios but Notre Dame’s pace of play. For those four, I got 96 attempts, 69 completions, 943 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
I used NC States’s pace of play and Hartman’s ratios for the North Carolina State game, which is a Hartman-only prior: 20 of 35, 260 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
For the remaining three games, in which neither Notre Dame nor Hartman faced the team, I used the team’s defensive ratios alongside the Irish’s pace of play (and a ‘guesstimate’ for TSU).
On 78 attempts, Hartman had 48 completions, 665 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
All that comes together for a total of 202/322, 2,733 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Add in another 22 completions, 30 attempts, 300 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for a bowl game, and Hartman pulls off: 224/352, 3,033 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
So, Sam Hartman’s six-season total is 1,168/1,949, 16,000 yards, 137 touchdowns and 52 interceptions.
Where does that place Hartman on the all-time standings lists? Well, for touchdowns, he would go from 18th overall to third, trailing Kellen Moore and Case Keenum.
In completions, Hartman would go from 52nd to 10th, moving ahead of Will Rogers (1159) and behind Dan Lefevour (1171).
While starting the season in 25th for attempts, Hartman would finish in sixth, knocking Kliff Kingsbury (1883).
As for passing yards, Hartman would go from 19th overall to 4th, knocking out Graham Harrell (15,793) while behind Landry Jones (16,646).
Of course, head coach Marcus Freeman could make Tyler Buchner the starter, and then all of this is moot.