Not exactly our best performance

Greetings Navy fans! Who among us can contain their excitement after Saturday? I had the unenviable task of re-watching the Navy-Notre Dame game tonight. I should get paid extra for that because it was every bit as painful as watching a stammering plebe deliver a chow call with three menacing upperclassmen surrounding him. From Gary Danielson’s lame announcing to the jealous Irish Rugby guy, I could have watched Battleship and been happier. Anyway, there are a lot of analogies one could use to describe Navy’s loss to Notre Dame, but anything that involves inappropriate prison humor will suffice. But let’s not forget, this game is always a stretch for Navy. I’m not just falling back on old clichés about how we should NEVER beat Notre Dame, but it’s always a tall order. Ten years ago I would have given anything just to beat Notre Dame once in my lifetime. By the way, I hope God doesn’t collect on some of the things I promised to give up if Navy ever beat Notre Dame. Please Lord!!! Needless to say, we’ve been insanely blessed to win 3 of the last 6 games against the Irish.

Last year’s game featured a Notre Dame team that was just plain solid. This year was no different. It’s one of Mike’s pet peeves to talk about intangibles like heart and preparedness for a game. Why? Because as fans we have no clue how prepared the teams are or how much heart they exerted. Either way, Brian Kelly seems to have had the last two Notre Dame teams ready to play Navy. He obviously learned something from the 35-17 shellacking Navy put on the Irish in 2010. Let’s do a review of this game using the three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams.

Offense

Our sage and highly informed blog czar Mike put it very nicely in his pre-game blog post: “Unfortunately, there is no adjustment for getting your butt kicked.” The good news is the offense really didn’t get its butt kicked so much as it kicked its own butt. [Ed. Note: this is not to be confused with the lame Air Force Academy “Navy didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves” refrain we heard from 2003-2009]. Navy tried everything on offense and a lot of it actually worked. Trey Miller was 14-19 passing and that included a dropped pass. I honestly cannot tell you the last time a Navy QB had passing stats like that in a game and this was against Notre Dame. Alas, statistics don’t win games and the offense made far too many mistakes in the form of turnovers. It’s hard enough to beat Notre Dame, but when you turn the ball over 4 times (3 fumbles and 1 INT) it’s going to be an old fashioned beat down.

Navy’s first two drives looked promising and we were able to move the ball. The first ended when Trey Miller was stuffed by Manti Teo (groan!) on a 4th and 1 in Irish territory. The second drive ended after the offense moved the ball nicely but stalled as Irish DT Louis Nix III got into the Navy backfield on a counter speed option play and grabbed Trey Miller for a loss and Navy later punted.

Then we got really sloppy. The third drive ended on the first play as the QB-FB mesh failed. Trey Miller tried to pull the ball back from FB Noah Copeland only to see it sail over the line of scrimmage and the ball was recovered by — wait for it!– Manti Teo! The fourth drive saw Trey Miller take the offense all the way down the field and then fumble while attempting a forward pass. Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt ran it back 77 yards for a TD.

Fortunately, Navy managed to grab a field goal before the half thanks to some excellent passing by Trey Miller including a 41 yard hook up with Shawn Lynch. The third quarter started off with a bang as Trey completed passes of 12 and 38 yards to Casey Bolena and then hit Shawn Lynch again for a 25 yard touchdown. That was the end of the fun. Notre Dame stuffed Navy for the rest of the afternoon. Of course, adding insult to injury, Manti Teo also had an INT late in the 3rd quarter. Ya know, just for the PRO scouts to chew on.

Defense

Before the game, I had fooled myself into thinking that because Notre Dame was missing some offensive starters we’d have a much better chance. After all, the Irish were missing their starting QB and top running back Cierre Wood. They still hammered us. Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III ran for 107 and 99 yards respectively. It could have been much worse. Brian Kelly called the dogs off early. It seemed like we were getting blown off the line of scrimmage all day. Upon further review, that’s pretty much what happened. Our defenders had a very tough time shedding blocks and tackling even when they were in position. I could go into slightly more depth, but why bother.

Special Teams

Overall, pretty good. Plebe Nick Sloan handled the place kicking duties and hit a short FG as well as an XP. Meanwhile Pablo Beltran averaged 46 yards per punt. That’s manly. We only had one kick coverage play but it was solid as Navy stopped ND at its own 13 yard line. Our other kick off was a touch back. Punt coverage was fine too.

There’s not much else to say about Saturday. There were a few bright spots but it was a very disappointing and deflating performance. It’s not time to go into full frontal freakout or anything, but it certainly doesn’t boost a fan’s confidence. Notre Dame simply outplayed us all day long. It’s hard not to recognize that simple fact.

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11 Responses

  1. The “consolatio” is rhetoric used to comfort mourners. Valiant try and well put, Salty Sam, but I will mourn until our first victory.

  2. Salty,

    Cannot imagine having to watch that game a second time. I think I would prefer to perform an appendectomy on myself. God bless you.

    A little perspective might help us. Last year we were all fired up after a flawless game against Delaware followed by a near-win over South Carolina. I’ll hang in there for several more games before breaking out the razor blades.

    One final thought. Now I know way the game was played in Dublin. Beatings like that are outlawed in every state in the Union.

  3. Nice job Salty. Kept it simple and succinct. Now I go over to GoMids and read more comments so I can hate myself.

  4. It was tough to watch. The defense looked really overwhelmed.

  5. I noticed this at the end of last year and even more so against ND. What made us be able to compete and get those 3 wins was speed. Speed on defense, particularly safety and linebackers and the A backs having it as well. I just don’t see that anymore. I know you can’t coach speed, but you sure as heck can recruit it. I started beating this drum towards the end of last year and I’ll start up after one week this year, but these teams have a startling resemblance to the talent level at the end of the Weatherbie era. I pray I’m wrong but I just have a bad, bad feeling.

  6. Hi Phil. The issue isn’t speed and talent at all. You can make an argument about size on the D-Line but we’re always undersized there. The slotbacks and even the b-back (Noah) have some serious speed. GG Greene, John Howell, Darius Staten and Bo Snelson can move. They may not be Reggie Campbell fast but they are certainly fast enough and just as fast as our A-backs in the PJ era.

    One of the reasons we were so successful against ND was Charlie Weis and Bob Diaco’s really bad 2010 defensive game plan. That’s taking nothing away from our players at all. It’s just that Weis was not a good coach and Diaco was clueless in 2010. He has since gotten a clue and we all know ND has some serious talent.

    • We’ll agree to disagree on this. Outside of GG, I haven’t seen it in the A backs. Now, that might be because we didn’t use anyone other then him a whole lot last year with all sorts of FB and mid-line so they may very well have that speed. But on defense, I’m sorry, it’s not there at all. You can see it in the LB pursuit, it’s not at the same level it used to be. And Weiss was fired in 2009, btw.

  7. I’m not sure what you’re gauging on LB pursuit. It’s very hard to see that on TV. I’m not saying the LBs played well, but speed isn’t the primary concern there. As far as Weis being fired in 2009. I knew that. He was HC for 2 of our 3 victories. I just shortened up my sentence. Bob Diaco was the DC in 2010 that botched the ND defensive game plan. Mike wrote about it extensively in 2010.

  8. thx for the writeup salty. somewhat related to phil’s comment, i thought i heard on the telecast that the navy’s backup qb was a plebe with no H.S. option experience. is depth that thin at qb? if so, hope trent can hold up…

  9. Wagner talked about a few weeks ago. Jarvis Cummings was #3 on the depth chart last year. He went to LB because of his athleticism and then left USNA. We’ve had years that we’ve been thin at QB, no doubt. It takes a while to develop a QB in the system. So I have no idea how the backups will perform if called upon. You can be sure that they are getting a lot of reps at practice though.
    http://www.capitalgazette.com/sports/navy_sports/navy-works-to-get-backup-up-to-speed/article_b557cd88-2bd6-577d-8f6f-49bc203e0426.html

  10. As a former D lineman I thought the first drive was embarrassing. (I like to feel like I never got blown off the line like that but I certainly feel the interior d linemen’s pain when trying to get to the QB and ND was blocking 6 or 7). And it was ugly all game, sure, but that first drive with the “havoc” defense with all lineman standing was just…just…uggghhh. Our d line is undersized. We make our money on staying low, sitting in our gaps and eating up as many blocks as possible so the LBs can get all the glory. STAYING LOW IS THE KEY. We looked like we were running into a spring loaded brick wall that would not only stop us dead in our tracks but knock us back a few yards just for good measure. I am glad they got back in their stances and had a chance at making a pile at the line instead of on top of the linebackers.

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