Notre Dame QB’s: Tommy Rees is coming off a very impressive performance in the win over Air Force, he threw a career-high 5 touchdown passes to 5 different receivers (a school record). On the season, he has a 55.3 completion percentage in 8 games while throwing for 1,944 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Andrew Hendrix received a good amount of (and valuable at that) playing time to close out the win the over Air Force. He had a 47 yard completion and ran in a touchdown on the following play, most notably. He has completed 2 of 14 passes (14.3 completion percentage) for 56 yards and has 26 rushing yards with 1 touchdown.
Notre Dame QB’s vs. Navy Pass Defense: The Midshipmen come in ranked 21st in pass defense, but those numbers could be seen as inflated due to playing run-based teams like Air Force (124th out of 125th in the nation in passing yards per game) and Toledo (106th in the nation in passing yards per game). Navy is allowing just 204.4 passing yards per game in 7 games this season, and have allowed 11 passing touchdowns and 7 interceptions. However, opposing teams have been extremely accurate as Navy is allowing opponents to complete 69.7 percent of their passes (3rd worst in the nation), and with Tommy Rees coming off a very accurate game against Air Force, look for Tommy Rees to continue with a solid performance and for him to continue to spread the ball around to his talented receiving unit.
Edge: Notre Dame
Navy QB’s: Keenan Reynolds is in his second year as a starter for Navy and is the leading rusher on top of his passing numbers. He has completed 52.7 percent of his passes for 667 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. On the ground he leads the Midshipmen with 546 rushing yards on 147 attempts with an impressive 11 rushing touchdowns (He had 10 rushing touchdowns in 2012), with only an average of 3.7 yards per rush. John Hendrick has appeared in 2 games with 60 passing yards on 6 completions out of 15 overall with 2 interceptions. His rushing numbers are 60 yards on 13 carries (4.6 yard average) with 1 touchdown.
Navy QB’s vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: The Irish come in ranked 46th in the nation and are allowing 220.4 passing yards per game with 13 passing touchdowns allowed and 6 interceptions. Opposing teams have been solid in completing passes against the Irish with 60.1 percent of passes completed. Stopping Keenan Reynolds on the ground is as important as stopping him in the air. If the Irish can force him into incompletions and not allow any long passes to be completed (4 different players have long receptions of 63, 61, 58, and 47 yards) while keeping him out of the end zone on the ground, then the Irish will have effectively contained him, as those are his strengths. Notre Dame did a great job in keeping Air Force’s option offense out of the end zone with only 1 touchdown allowed all game and that was just on Air Force’s opening drive.
Notre Dame RB’s: Cam McDaniel leads the Irish with 417 rushing yards on 91 carries with 2 rushing touchdowns and a 4.6 yard average per rush. George Atkinson III has 381 rushing yards on 70 attempts with 2 rushing touchdowns as well with 5.4 yards per rush. Amir Carlisle has 44 carries for 193 rushing yards and averages 4.4 yards per rush. Tarean Folston was able to get extensive amounts of playing time and has 22 attempts for 116 rushing yards and averages 5.3 yards per rush this season.
Notre Dame RB’s vs. Navy Rush Defense: The Midshipmen are ranked 90th in run defense and are allowing 187.9 rushing yards per game and 10 rushing touchdowns, while opponents average 4.7 yards per rush. The Irish should be able to get a solid amount of yards on the ground and use multiple running backs accordingly.
Edge: Notre Dame
Navy RB’s: While Keenan Reynolds carries the load on the ground in terms of quarterbacks, the next leading rusher for Navy is Chris Swain. He has 284 rushing yards on 76 attempts with 3 touchdowns and just 3.7 yards per rush. Noah Copeland has 226 rushing yards on 53 attempts and averages 4.3 yards per rush with 1 touchdown. Marcus Thomas has 208 rushing yards on 18 carries with an average of 11.6 yards per rush, while in terms of receiving he has 3 catches for 69 yards (23.0 yard average) and 1 touchdown. DeBrandon Sanders has 208 rushing yards as well on 26 attempts with an 8.0 yard average. He also is the teams leading receiver with 9 catches for 176 yards and 1 touchdown, along with a 19.6 yard average. Geoffrey Whiteside has 183 rushing yards on 21 attempts with 3 rushing touchdowns and averages 8.7 yards per rush. Whiteside is also the teams 3rd leading receiver with 3 catches for 89 yards with a 29.7 yard average to go with it. Darius Staten has 175 rushing yards on 18 attempts to average 9.7 yards per carry with 2 rushing touchdowns.
Navy RB’s vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense: The Irish come in ranked 42nd in run defense and are currently allowing 144.1 rushing yards per game and have allowed 5 rushing touchdowns and for opponents to average 4.0 yards per rush. The Irish have been solid against the run this season and with the benefit in playing consecutive games against option offenses, should help in making adjustments as needed.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame WR’s and TE’s: This has been one of the strongest areas on the team with TJ Jones leading the way and could potentially finish the season with a 1,000+ receiving yards. TJ Jones leads with 44 receptions for 631 receiving yards with 6 touchdowns (all team leads) with 14.3 yards per reception. DaVaris Daniels has 30 catches for 463 receiving yards with 15.4 yards per catch and 4 touchdowns. Troy Niklas leads an impressive tight end unit with 20 catches for 328 yards with 5 touchdowns and a 16.4 yard average per catch, while Ben Koyack has 3 catches for 48 yards and 2 touchdowns, and averages 16.0 yards per catch. Chris Brown has 9 catches for 148 yards and 1 touchdown, and averages 16.4 yards per catch. William Fuller has 5 catches for 146 yards and 1 touchdown, and a team-leading 29.2 yards per catch, while Corey Robinson has 5 catches for 101 yards with 1 touchdown and 20.2 yards per catch.
Notre Dame WR’s vs. Navy DB’s: The Midshipmen face what is easily the most talented receiving unit and one that is quite deep at that. Tommy Rees did an amazing job in spreading the ball around against Air Force and multiple players had their first career touchdown as well. With the freshmen receivers continuing to develop and showing strong performances, it gives the Irish depth. In addition, the Irish have 5 players who have caught a pass of 40 or more yards, so the Irish are strong in the deep ball as well.
Edge: Notre Dame
Navy WR’s and TE’s: The receivers for Navy this season haven’t caught too many passes with the 2nd leading receiver being Casey Bolena has 8 catches for 97 yards and a 12.1 yard average, while Matt Aiken has 4 receptions for 56 yards for a 14.0 yard average. Shawn Lynch has 3 catches for 46 yards and 1 touchdown with a 15.3 yard average.
Navy WR’s vs. Notre Dame DB’s: With the Midshipmen not throwing it much to the receivers, the Irish will need to keep an eye on the backs on the ground as they have made quite a few plays through the air this season. The Irish secondary will likely follow a similar game plan to what was used against Air Force this season as it worked well, but regardless, the Irish need to worry about the backs that are able to catch the ball and get long passes from that in the passing game.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame OL: The Notre Dame offensive line took a hit just prior to the Air Force game with Christian Lombard being out for the season due to injury. The status of Chris Watt at this time is probable, so it is likely that he will play for the Irish against Navy. In terms of run blocking, the Irish are averaging 4.1 yards per rush and 135.9 yards per game. Pass blocking has been solid with only 7 sacks allowed and just 12 quarterback hurries. The Irish have let opponents get into the backfield with 39 tackles for loss allowed.
Notre Dame OL vs. Navy DL: Navy has had trouble in getting to opposing quarterbacks this season as they have just 6 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries. In addition to that, they also have 24 tackles for loss as well. The Irish had some injury issues during the Air Force game, but were able to make good use of backups and get solid playing time to all of them. As long as the Irish continue to keep Tommy Rees protected and make sure things go well in the running game, they should be fine.
Edge: Notre Dame
Navy OL: Navy has been great in run blocking with an average of 292.1 rushing yards per game and the average rush being 5.0 yards. They have allowed 24 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and 12 quarterback hurries on the season as well.
Navy OL vs. Notre Dame DL: The Irish could potentially be down 2 starting lineman in Louis Nix III and Sheldon Day. Nix could likely be held out this game before returning for the following game against Pittsburgh, while Sheldon Day is probable. Day will likely still play despite injury. The Irish have 12 sacks and 25 quarterback hurries this season. Getting into the opposing backfield has not been an issue with 42 tackles for loss in total. The Irish were able to use backups accordingly and did well, including preventing Air Force from scoring in the 2nd half.
Notre Dame DL: Louis Nix III remains questionable for the Irish this week after being out against Air Force. On the season he has 22 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 pass breakups. Stephon Tuitt has 29 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 interception (returned for touchdown), 1 pass breakup, 9 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble. Kona Schwenke has been a major part in filling in for the injured starters this season and has played inside and outside on the defensive line for the Irish and has 8 tackles and 1 quarterback hurry. Sheldon Day has 10 tackles and 2 tackles for loss, while Issac Rochell has 7 tackles this season. Depth issues have been a major concern for the Irish as they had two players be injured and out for the season before the season even started and have had two starters miss games this season.
Notre Dame DL vs. Navy OL: With the status of Louis Nix III up in the air and Sheldon Day being probable, the Irish could be having some big depth issues in this case. Fortunately, a good amount of backups were able to play and Kona Schwenke has seen the option offense before since he has been with the program for many years.
Navy DL: Defensive linemen for Navy have had difficulty in getting to opposing quarterbacks, as amongst the teams total of 6 sacks that only 1 is accounted for by a player on the defensive line. Paul Quessenberry has 20 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hurries, and 1 fumble recovery for Navy. Will Anthony has 15 tackles, Evan Palelei has 13 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble, and Bernard Sarra has 13 tackles.
Navy DL vs. Notre Dame OL: The Irish should be able to keep Tommy Rees well protected against Navy with the difficulty they have in getting to the quarterbacks. This is regardless of if Chris Watt is able to play, as he currently is probable at this point. The Irish were able to play backups last weekend and that will help in the long run whenever Notre Dame plays teams with option offenses.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame LB’s: Carlo Calabrese leads the Irish in tackles with 55 total and in addition to that has 5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup, and 1 fumble recovery. Dan Fox has 49 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 interception (returned for a touchdown), and 1 fumble recovery. Jaylon Smith continues to have a strong freshman season with 39 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 2 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 forced fumble. Prince Shembo has 26 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 9 quarterback hurries. Ishaq Williams is out this weekend due to injury, which gives more time for backups to get in and get more playing time as they did last weekend. Kendall Moore in particular got a lot of time in and played well against Air Force.
Notre Dame LB’s vs. Navy: The linebackers will need to continue with strong run support and Jaylon Smith has been quite a strength for the Irish linebacker unit. He had a very impressive performance against Air Force and should be able to continue that against another option offense team like Navy. The linebackers need to focus on Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds as much as focusing on the other members of the ground game.
Edge: Notre Dame
Navy LB’s: Cody Peterson leads the Midshipmen in tackles with a total of 72 overall. He also has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 quarterback hurry. DJ Sargenti has 55 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 1pass breakup, 3 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble. Chris Johnson has 48 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups. William Tuider has 23 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 3 quarterback hurries. Jordan Drake has 22 tackles, and 1 pass breakup, while Obi Uzoma has 14 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.
Navy LB’s vs. Notre Dame: Navy will have an improving run game of Notre Dame to account for, and also has tight ends to worry about. While Troy Niklas is the starter and is having a strong season, Ben Koyack has been solid at contributing, especially in the red zone. This gives a solid linebacker unit of Navy a lot to worry about on Defense.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame DB’s: Bennett Jackson has 46 tackles this season to put him at third overall on the team, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception (returned for a touchdown), 2 pass breakups, 1 quarterback hurry, and 1 forced fumble. KeiVarae Russell had a very impressive game against Air Force and has 32 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 5 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery. Matthias Farley has 30 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups. Austin Collinsworth has 21 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries, while Cole Luke has 13 tackles and 1 pass breakup. Elijah Shumate was out against Air Force and likely could out for Navy as well.
Notre Dame DB’s vs. Navy WR’s: Navy utilizes players in the ground game a decent amount in the receiving game and since the actual receivers of Navy don’t see a lot of passes caught their way, this means that the Irish will need to focus on both. The Irish likely will follow a similar game plan against Navy as they did against Air Force.
Edge: Notre Dame
Navy DB’s: Parrish Gaines has 34 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 2 pass breakups. Chris Ferguson has 29 tackles and 1 tackle for loss, while Brendon Clements has 27 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, and 3 pass breakups. Lonnie Richardson has 22 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 forced fumble, while Wave Ryder has 20 tackles and 1 interception.
Navy DB’s vs. Notre Dame WR’s: Navy faces a receiving unit that is coming off a strong game and is easily the best receiving unit they face all season. Parrish Gaines will likely be covering TJ Jones, who is having a strong senior season potentially could be a 1,000 yard receiver as well. If Tommy Rees continues to spread the ball as well as he has been lately, it could be over quick for the Midshipmen.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Kicking Game: Kyle Brindza is 9 of 13 this season in field goals with a long of 53 yards. He is 2 of 2 when it is 50 or more yards, but has had 1 kick blocked this season. Kyle Brindza is averaging 40.8 yards per punt on 31 punts with a long of 55 yards. He also has 2 touchbacks, 10 fair caught, 5 inside the 20, 6 of 50 or more yards, and 1 blocked. Alex Wulfeck has 7 punts with an average of 33.7 yards with a long of 59 yards. He also has 1 touchback, 3 fair caught, and 6 inside the 20. Brindza is averaging 64.4 yards per kickoff on 45 touchbacks with 28 touchbacks.
Navy Kicking Game: Nick Sloan is 5 of 8 on field goals with a long of 40 yards this season. Pablo Beltran averages 42.7 yards per punt on 24 punts with a long of 62. He has 3 touchbacks, 6 fair caught, and 8 inside the 20. Austin Grebe is averaging 63.1 yards per kickoff on 36 kickoffs and has 12 touchbacks.
Stronger Unit: Even
Notre Dame Return Game: George Atkinson III is averaging 27.3 yards per return on 16 kickoffs for a total of 437 return yards and a long of 50 yards. Cam McDaniel has 5 returns for 83 yards and averages 16.6 yards per return with a long of 22 yards. TJ Jones has 8 returns for 76 yards with a 9.5 yard average and a long of 27 yards.
Navy Return Game: Marcus Thomas averages 20.8 yards per return on 11 kickoffs with a total of 229 yards on kickoffs returns with a long of 30 yards. Three other players have returned at least 1 kickoff with the longest going for 28 yards. Shawn Lynch averages just 5.3 yards per punt return on 7 punts for a total of 37 yards and a long of 16 yards.
Stronger Unit: Notre Dame
Everything Else: The Irish are coming off a blowout win over Air Force that allowed for backups to get a considerable amount of playing time and with the benefit of back-to-back games against option offenses, that helps even more. Navy has been a couple of close games lately with a double overtime loss to Toledo, and a close win over Pittsburgh this season. Tommy Rees had the best game of his career against Air Force and with the receiving unit continuing to get stronger and deeper should allow the Irish to have a strong effort in the air. The running game will need to do the same to help give the Irish a balanced offense. Scoring on every possession is always important, especially when facing Navy.
Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Navy 16