After rewatching the game tonight I have to wonder how many times Notre Dame has practice recovering onside kicks this year because the Irish looked completely lost on both Navy onside kicks. On the first, Robert Hughes had a golden opportunity to recover the kick but he waited for it to come to him and then short armed it when contact came. Had Hughes attacked the kick instead of waiting for it to come to him, he would have easily recovered and the game would have been over at 27-14.
For a great example of how to attack an onside kick, I reference you to Anthony Johnson against Miami in 1988. Check the video below from the game (at the 5:20 mark) to see what I am referring to.
Johnson didn’t wait for the kick. He went up and grabbed it. the receiving team does not have to wait for the ball to travel 10 yards, but Notre Dame players waited for the ball to get to them on both onside kick attempts.
This is something that should not be happening to a team 10 games into the season and it comes back to coaching. Brian Polian and Charlie Weis need to do a better job teaching the special teams unit how to recover onside kicks because there is no reason whatsoever that Navy should be able to recover two within 30 seconds of each other. Ever. Before anyone says this should fall on Polian solely, Weis has said multiple times that he sits in on every special teams meetings so this one is on him as well.