I understand that, being service academies, people are always going to draw certain parallels between Navy and Army. But holy hell this is ridiculous. It was bad enough listening to both the NBC broadcast and the Notre Dame radio team make the Army=Navy argument all night long, but I figured that they’re just idiots. Surely the coaches wouldn’t try to say such nonsense, right?
But this game belonged to the defense. Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco scrapped their normal 3-4 look and turned outside linebacker Darius Fleming back into a defensive end.
The 4-3 front also included third cornerback Robert Blanton playing essentially a drop linebacker position.
“I thought we clearly needed to be more physical,” Kelly said, “As the game slowed down, we could chase the football down. This scheme was about being more physical.”
It also was about redemption for Diaco, who has been muted from the media for the past couple of weeks and his critics were anything but.
“I think it just allows us to say (Navy) was an anomaly,” Kelly said, “Listen, we haven’t given up a touchdown in the month of November. You don’t do that by accident.”
I’m sure that the Navy game is a real stain on Brian Kelly’s first season as Notre Dame’s head coach, so he has to play the spin game a little. I get it. But really? A fluke?
Army is not the same team as Navy. They run a different offense and a different defense with different players led by different coaches. One team is about to play in its eighth consecutive bowl game, has two 10-win seasons in the last six, is still in the hunt for another 10-win season, and is graduating a class that already had two wins over Notre Dame before Kelly even knew the job was available. The other team is Army. Anyone who thinks that a win over one has any bearing on the other is clueless.
I don’t know if Notre Dame’s coaches really believe they’ve found the magic option answer or if they’re just trying to save face, but I PRAY that they line up against Navy next year the same way they did against Army in Yankee Stadium last night.