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.
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.
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.
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.