The Emerald Isle Classic went off without much of a hitch for Notre Dame as they cruised to a 50-10 victory over Navy in Aviva Stadium in front of a sellout crowd in Dublin and in front of an early morning audience back home in the states. Here is some initial analysis of Notre Dame’s 40 point victory over the Midshipmen with more to follow throughout the weekend.
- Everett Golson looked fairly solid in his debut as the starting quarterback but was not asked to do much – most likely by design. Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin didn’t call a single designed run for their sophomore QB and most of his passes were designed to go to the tight ends or running backs. I expect to see much more out of Golson next week in the home opener. Despite a fairly solid day, Golson did have one bad interception when he locked in on Tyler Eifert and waited too long to throw it to his star tight end.
- Theo Riddick looks much more comfortable at running back but still missed a few opportunities for big plays – plays where Cierre Wood most likely would have broken the extra tackle and turned a short run into a big gain. Riddick did finish with 107 yards on 19 carries to go along with 2 touchdowns for his first career 100 yard performance.
- I wrote the other day that I expected big things out of George Atkinson and the sophomore did not fail to deliver with 99 yards on 10 carries including a career long 56 yard touchdown run. The kid is going to be a dynamic player on the college level and it won’t surprise me one bit if he is the #2 back before long.
- Davaris Daniels looked pretty good when his number was called while Ben Koyack showed suspect hands with a few drops. Koyack showed the ability to get open and be a matchup problem, but he dropped a couple very catchable passes.
- The offensive line straight tup dominated up front – something that hasn’t always been the case against Navy in the past. This line has the potential to be dominant and on this Saturday they were, albeit against an inferior opponent.
- Really liked what I saw out of TJ Jones on the wide receiver screens. Neither of his catches looked like there was going to be much there for him, but he turned both into good gainers.
- Davonte Neal flashed some potential, but didn’t have his number called too often. I suspect we saw his number called so Purdue knew they had to prepare for him, but wouldn’t know just how much.
- Manti Te’o played like an All American on Saturday. He had his first career interception and fumble recovery and was all over the field. Te’o will have a great to chance to take home some hardware at the end of this season if he plays like that week in and week out.
- I don’t ever remember seeing a 300+ lb player run down the field with as much ease as Stephon Tuitt. I know it was just against Navy, but WOW. No one on the Navy team gained ground as Tuitt bolted down the field on his 77 yard fumble return.
- Ishaq Williams is starting to emerge and could be in store for a big season if he keeps up this play. He forced two fumbles and was a factor whenever he was on the field.
- The secondary looked like every bit of the concern we all feared it would be. Even with giving the Navy receivers a big cushion to prevent a big play, Navy receivers were able to get behind the defense on several occasions. Hopefully this was a sign of the Irish secondary just not being ready for all of the passing Navy did and not an indicator of what we are going to see when they face the likes of Landry Jones and Matt Barkley.
- Louis Nix was a monster in the middle of the defense and was a major reason why the fullback dive was not a viable option for Navy.
- Kona Swenke showed some great pass rushing capabilities from the interior defense line. Between Nix and Schwenke, Notre Dame could really have a special duo at the nose tackle position.
- Loved seeing the defense create four turnovers after they struggled to do so on a regular basis last season.
- Yikes. After the kicking game became fairly automatic with David Ruffer the last few seasons, it was upsetting to see all of the problems with snaps, holds, and kicks on extra points today. Hopefully Notre Dame can get that ironed out in a hurry.
- Davonte Neal already has more punt returns yards with a single return this year than John Goodman collected all of last season.