The Fighting Irish put on a powerful, dominating, athletic display against the Naval Academy in Dublin.
The Notre Dame offense was able to use the fulcrum of overpowering the Navy defensive front to open up all options in the offense, setting the table for a bevy of running backs to run at will.
Play selection was unimportant as the Irish averaged over 7 yards per play, over 7.4 yards on first down.
The Irish, with Chuck Martin as the de jure offensive coordinator, showed one level of diversification from prior years with multiple tight end sets. Because of the absences of Cierre Wood and Amir Carlisle, the multiple rb/slot packages were kept safe in the silo.
The defense, massive, attacking and swift from the front seven, dominated the rebuilding Navy offense. Certainly, there were annoying plays, PARTICULARLY IN THE MIDDIE PASSING GAME, But this is what Navy does. Holding Navy to 10 points, ND’s best defensive effort against Navy since 2004, and 19 first downs, are badges of honor.
The Notre Dame secondary had “issues” as Navy is the team least likely to test the Irish pass defense.
Newcomers of the match?
- Matthias Farley-aggressive, around the ball, sound tackler.
- Davaris Daniels-though inbounds-challenged, tall, with good hands, and able to run after the catch
- Sheldon Day, powerful, great technique, mature beyond his year(f).
- Elijah Shumate (heir to Glenn Earl’s throne?) loves to hit and hurt people.
HOW GOOD IS NOTRE DAME?
Insufficient data available for judgment.
Saturday’s exhibition at Aviva was only slightly more instructive than that ultimate red herring, the Blue-Gold game. Dublin is from the Gaelic “Dubhlinn,” roughly translated as “black pool.” The Irish confronted, attacked and bludgeoned the smaller, slower (cf, the non-hot-pursuit of Tuitt during his 77 yard romp) and younger middies and then dragged them to o the “black pool” and drowned them. It was brutal, unequivocal, sadistic fun, yet irrelevant as a predictor.
Navy, by inspection, is ND’s weakest opponent in 2012.
But here’s a glimpse or tease of what the Irish might be.
The Irish can be potent offensively, if they can continue to run at will, particularly outside. Our veteran OL got a great push and seemed to adapt easily to Hiestand’s greater tilt toward zone blocking. If you had not knows that Cierre Wood was the starter, and that Carlisle a potential asset, you would not have missed them.
Golson showed more relative poise than the typical first game starter. There were two play/formation/clock confusion time outs but no delay of game penalties. Other than the early sack, he was relaxed in the pocket. But he may as well have been on a vintage Van Patrick Lazy Boy waiting for patterns to unfold downfield. Golson did, however, honor the legacy of his predecessors Crist and Rees christening his career by notching a red zone turnover. Tradition rules. And his feet were poorly positioned on some of his early throws.
One normally assumes that a starter’s first start is his worst start, so let’s just wait for more iterations.
The receivers were unremarkable, though even the frosh have already been trained to block downfield.
There is hope for plenty of YACS, (Yards after catch) even against swifter, more nimble secondaries.
The Irish front seven has a lot of large mammals. On the few plays when Councell and Ishaq were on the field together. We got a preview of how “recruiting to profile” will impact the look of future Notre Dame defenses. We will be very tall, and if Longo prevails (but for the occasional Nix) with plenty of lean muscle mass.
Te’o, even last year, got into Niumatalolo’s head. He is now a master craftsman, as well as a great athletic specimen. Let’s enjoy him. A similar linebacker may not pass this way again.
The secondary? They tackled well, and often far downfield.
That loud “SPLAT” sound often heard was drool hitting the floor from the agape mouths of Landry Jones, Robert Woods, Matt Barkley and Marquise Lee. Of the many challenges facing this secondary and its coaching staff, complacency and overconfidence have been eliminated, vaporized before one minute of playing time had elapsed in the second half.
Many longed for more exciting plays from the special teams. As if on cue, drama was provided, although it came from the spellbinding efforts of the kicking team to complete a PAT.
One quirk-Brindza seems to have flipped the script from 2011-his kickoffs seemed to lengthen as the afternoon unfolded.
In sum, the past week’s performance in Dublin has never been less predictive of future Notre Dame results. But it felt, well, kind of okay…..
Next week, we’ll rank Notre Dame’s opponents from 1-12, based on how they’ve performed on the field in two outings.
And we’ll set up a grading system for the units on the Irish team. It will be non-conventional, but hopefully useful.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN THIS SATURDAY?
Purdue is the first legitimate test for the Irish. The Boilers can provide useful stress tests in three key areas:
- First, can Hope’s attack, using multiple and unbalanced receiver sets, put pressure on the purported secondary to see if it can hold up to a legitimate passing attack?
- Second, will Purdue throw caution to the winds defensively, taking risks with aggressive blitzes, then attacking Golson’s naivete by challenging him with pre-snap adjustments, post snap moves from a disguised defense, and mixed and combo coverages so we can see if and how he adjusts?
- Third, can Purdue jump to an early (even in quirky) lead so we can observe how the Irish adapt to playing from behind?
We’ll learn a lot more on Saturday.