Initial Analysis – Notre Dame 50, Navy 10

george atkinson navy
Sep 1, 2012; Dublin, IRELAND; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III (4) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Navy Midshipmen in the first quarter at Aviva Stadium. (Photo - Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE)

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.

Special Teams

  • 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.

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  1. I really like the way Riddick ran the ball – delivering hits rather than taking them – I hope he gets plenty of touches moving forward. He was my player of the game – JP

  2. Lots of positives to be taken from the game. The biggest for me was Golson. Contrary to BK’s assessment, he was much much better than just ok. Looked very comfortable, in control, unflappable, great great arm and from what I saw only one bad decision on the pick. There is a really good reason to get excited about that guy. I understand the need to him to keep eyes downfield and dont flee the pocket prematurely but there better be some plays drawn up to utilize his running ability. The passing dimension of his skills looked great, can wait to see the full package! I also would have liked to see Gunner get in for some experience in the 4th especially after flat play from Hendrix. Hendrix is better than what he showed and he really wasnt given much in play calling.

    That being said and knowing Navy is not even remotely known as a passing team, those receivers were wide open all game! No adjustments throughout the game. The secondary is horrid and its the achilles heel of the team no question. Even in man to man they looked way out of position. The only hope is to have them play an aggressive bump and cover but the inexperience was glaringly obvious. Unfortunately I think its certain at least this year, we will get shredded as the season progresses.

    Purdue will provide a better glimpse but what I saw of the secondary against…Navy, it was scary. Hope I am wrong.

    GO IRISH – beat the Boilermakers!

  3. A little off topic but I haven’t seen TV coverage that bad since the ’70s. The commentators sounded like they didn’t want to be there, the director must have been asleep and letting the interns run things, instant replay didn’t show up until the second half (sort of), the same three commercials ran incessantly, we were watching the crowd during kickoffs, there were long blackouts (like a sponsor pulled out), and doing interviews during the game is nonsense. I don’t have a CBS affiliate here, so I had to watch on – maybe real TV did better.

  4. Overall a good game. I too was concerned with the secondary. ND will be facing a lot of tough teams this year and the secondary may be a liability. Hopefully with some experience, they will improve. Other than the secondary, though, everything else looked pretty good. Other than a few mistakes here and there, ND was dominant (and luckily, unlike USF last year, there were not game changing mistakes).

  5. I think BK should look at starting Jalen Brown or Atkinson at corner. Also, our corners had to play man to man and they are a zone defense. I think that Atkinson is the second best man corner we have. Also, at saftey Motto looked horrible, put in Farley, that kid can hit.

    1. Jack,

      I agree. Motta looked lost. I know defending the option can catch a safety sleeping but he looked comatose at times.


  6. Hendrix and Rees better stick around. Golson is fine, but they may need one of the other two at times. And those two better be ready. Golson still needs to improve his timing, reads, and technique throwing the ball.

    Stars of the game, 1. Offensive Line 2 Defensive Line. A walk on might have picked up 50 or 60 yards behind the O-Line. We might not be anywhere near Bama, but our lines are pretty close.

    Teo has reached a new level. While a big fan, I thought in past years he was slightly overrated because he was not so hot in pass coverage. Well, he anticipated everything yesterday and showed me that he is now able to play in the ZONE. Look for him to get a lot of press this year based on performance.

    Secondary was horrible. Can’t cover, can’t tackle, can’t maintain safe pursuit angles. Contrast what Sunseri did to Michigan last night. The guy had perfect timing in coverage and in pursuit of the option pitch. That made a lot of difference. Our corners frequently chased inside out and got burned. Denard may still pick us apart if that is not fixed. He’ll have Toussaint back who likely isn’t a chicken like Smith was last night.

    We better fear Purdue unless our D-Line can stay fresh for 60 minutes to disrupt plays before the QB let’s go of the ball.

  7. Delta,

    Do you think USC will still be #1 by the time we play them barring any injures with their shallow depth? Do you think we should make any changes at CB or stay the course?

    Here come the Irish!

    1. JC,

      I think the lack of depth will catch up with them. And after watching oregon last nite I don’t think USC is even number 1 in their conference.

      With that said, Lee and Woods are probably the best 2 receivers in the game and Barkley doesn’t miss. Yesterdays cb play has ne worried but I am hoping much of the problems were a result of being unprepared for navy running a spread. We are gonna need speed at cb to stay with those receivers though. I would like to know what is holding josh atkinson back. I know he is a step slower than george but I gotta believe his speed would help.


      1. Amen Delta,

        GIII is a G-Force, I can imagine him blowing past USC!

        So Josh may be worth a shot at the Purdue game as well as Jalen as Jack suggests.

        Hopefully, will get another big lead at Purdue to test some more options. Like you said, we need to get this resolved soon!

        Here come the Irish!

  8. My take aways from the game pretty much match those in the article. The important thing is we beat an opponent by 40 that we should beat by 40. Also only one turnover. Finall the team performed on a big stage despite tons of distractions.

    Being a football junkie, I watched a helluva lot of games this weekend. A lot of tose involved future opponents. My takeaways from those

    Sparty. Their defense is stout against the run. We will need great o line play and a lot more passing than we showed against navy. Their offense will play to our defensive strenghth.

    BYU. Better not sleep on these boys. Fast on both sides of the ball.

    Meechigan. Shoe lace was stifled by bamas d line. But he was throwing a little better than last year. Less floaters.

    BC and Miami. Didn’t see the game between these two. But from the high scores it looks like neither plays defense.

    USCum. Our secondary better get better fast.


  9. Don’t be to quick to “hang” Hendrix out to dry. Plays called for him on first 2 series looked more like Kelly was running out the clock and not much you can do when handing off the ball to second string (although McDaniel looked great in his limited chances) and throwing to Koyack who could not catch a cold on 2 of his chances. Hendrix will be fine if needed and if we ever need to go back to Rees the season is “well and truly over”. I would be having nightmares re our secondary if we were playing USC next Saturday. Go Irish

    1. I agree on Cam McDaniel. It is a WASTE to make him a cb. This kid can run the ball, we need to give him more chances. He saw action as a frosh and had something like 6 yards/carry today even though it was in garbage time. I think he should definetly be in the mix and hope he doesnt get buried in the depth chart when we are at full strength

      1. This makes zero sense. We have a plethora of depth at RB, and none at DB…so if McDaniel can play DB, he damned sure needs to.

  10. You guy’s are too nit-picky, I want to ride into the end zone on Stephon Tuitt’s shoulders against Purdue! Could this be our new “Frig”! Yeah, let’s put Tuitt in on the 5-yard line as a red-zone RB. WOW, they would just fall over out of shear fear!

    Here come the Irish!

  11. Golson, even with the leash on, did exactly what he needed to today. He looked comfortable overall except for that bad INT but that type of mistakecan be expected. He had good zip on the ball and that was nice to see.The only way this guy will lose his starting job is if he screws up off the field or god forbid, doesn’t remain healthy.

    RB’s looked pretty good

    OL looked solid

    Front 7 om D good be exceptional

    Secondary is concerning and a good passing QB is going to expose that very quickly.

    Kicking & Punting needs improvement.

    It was a good win and no 99 yard fumble return by the opponent occurred this year.

    Go Irish

  12. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I hope Rees is the back-up next week. Hendrix just does not look comfortable out there. Golson, on the other, looks like a natural out there. I know they kept the training wheels on him today, but he is only going to get better.

    Our running game is going to be HUGE this year, as ND is going to have a three headed monster out there once Wood gets back from his suspension. Our offense line played well and created some nice holes for the backs.

    Nice to start off 1-0 with a dominating performance. Not too impressed with Michigan State or Michigan, so ND has a chance to start 4-0.

    1. Michigan’s loss to the National Champs has nothing to do with the ND game, as we’re not on the same planet as Bama right now. And MSU had a 200+ yard rusher against a respectable (MUCH more so that Navy) defense. So I’m not onboard with that last sentence

      1. Notre Dame has a good Rush D, and Bell is going to wear out with 50 touches a game. Their Qb looked like crap, as well, which is only going to help our run D.

      2. All I said is they have a chance to go 4-0. I’m not one of these people who are automatically counting Michigan State and Michigan as a loss especially since we dominated Michigan State the whole game and Michigan for 3 quarters last year.

    2. Hendrix just needs to transfer. He looked horrible and golson looked pretty damn good even tho Kelly told him where to throw all game. Hendrix and Rees spots on this team r gone next year anyway with Malik Zaire coming to South Bend.

      1. Hendrix will NOT transfer. He’s a pre-med student and knows very well where his future is. I don’t want to say football is a sideline for him but his priorities are elsewhere. And in defense of his performance, he was playing with the second unit and didn’t look bad after the first series.

  13. I feel the secondary focused on the optiom and run, when Navy went to the spread they should have called a timd out. The defensive backs play better in zone than they doin man coverage. I think that will get corrected.

  14. I wouldn’t let the punt game off the hook. Yes, Turk’s first punt was downed inside the 10 (or near it), but it was a short field and the punt had no hang time. His second punt was a pathetic 30 yarder. Last year the coaching staff picked up on the fact he can’t punt very well, and they developed his “rugby style” approach which worked fine the throughout the last half of the season. What happened to that?? He’s too good for it all of a sudden? Time to rediscover it. But this write up is spot on. I love our front 7 right now.

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