The Irish will look to rebound from a controversial loss to Florida State this Saturday when they renew their rivalry with Navy. Notre Dame is coming off a much needed bye after the events in Tallahassee and will be looking to make a statement against the Midshipmen as massive favorites. Navy’s option offense could take some adjusting for the Irish defense but it shouldn’t be long before the Irish’s size and athleticism advantage takes over. Everett Golson and the Irish will be looking to stay mistake free by committing no turnovers versus Navy as after this week the margin for error will be much smaller. The following are the key matchups for the Irish versus the Midshipmen:
Jaylon Smith versus Keenan Reynolds: Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith will be in charge of shutting down the key to the Navy offense, quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Smith will be heavily involved in what will be a physical battle in the trenches versus the Navy rushing attack in which he will have to get off blocks quickly to limit the damage Reynolds can do. The junior quarterback leads the Midshipmen with 639 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns and is a very good athlete and elusive runner but struggles in the passing game.
Jarron Jones versus Noah Copeland: Defensive tackle Jarron Jones has been playing very well for the Irish and will be at the center of the action versus Noah Copeland and Navy. Copeland will often get the ball on fullback dives in the triple option so Jones can meet him in the hole and protect the middle of the Irish defense. If Jones can take away Navy’s second leading rusher it would go a long way in limiting what the Midshipmen can do on offense and could force them into passing situations.
Will Fuller versus Quincy Adams: Notre Dame’s number one receiver Will Fuller could be in for a big day versus Navy. Fuller has had big games against some of the Irish’s stiffer competition this season which doesn’t bode well for Quincy Adams. Adams has a team-high six pass breakups for Navy, but going up against a superior athlete in Fuller will likely be too much for him especially on routes deep downfield where the Irish receiver’s speed advantage will come into play.
Tarean Folston versus Daniel Gonzales: Sophomore Tarean Folston has shown he deserves the bulk of the carries for the Irish and could be looking at another showcase game versus Navy. With Notre Dame’s superior size in the trenches Folston should have big holes to run through and often find himself in the second level of the Midshipmen defense. Attempting to stop this from happening will be Navy’s leading tackler, linebacker Daniel Gonzales. Also a sophomore Gonzales is somewhat undersized but as most Navy players do he makes up for it with grit and determination.