Notre Dame v. Navy ’14 – Key Matchups

Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Danny Etling (5) is sacked by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Jarron Jones (94) in the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. Notre Dame won 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Danny Etling (5) is sacked by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Jarron Jones (94) in the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. Notre Dame won 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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  1. This is a young defense against the triple option which no one runs in high school. You have two safties that are athletic but undisciplined. You had the play caller Joe Schmidt go out and a freshman come in. I’m not making excuses but I don’t see a defense on ND ‘ S schedule holding them under 30 points. All the defense has yo do is hold the other teams under 30. Hold on to your hats gentleman because there is going to be some nail biters

  2. one turnover
    tw missed fgs
    two weeks to practice agst the option and they consistently get beat to the outside, oregon would have embarassed us
    they look slow on defense
    its seems van gorder doesnt change the defesive set ups in the second half and other teams adjust to what they saw first half and score a lot
    please call barry alvarez the magician of adjustment
    570 yds of offense oh my! but more greg bryant
    go irish

    1. …and a partridge in a pear tree.

      I went back and looked at the stats, turns out Lou never gave up a first down to Navy.

  3. This game is showcasing why the detractors/naysayers/haters point out why ND doesn’t deserve high status. I feel like I am watching the old TV show “To Tell The Truth.” Will the real ND football team stand up. Is it the team who showed up against FSU and should have won or is it the team that is making a 4-4 team ONCE AGAIN look like it’s a 7-1 team. OK, this isn’t exactly a new thing against NAVY either but the talent level is too much different to let a team like Navy look so much freaking better than what they are or are we ready to concede Navy is as talented as ND in personnel. Again, this is why people who dislike ND have little respect for ND (and maybe there is some validity to that)when we have to cheer about escaping the likes of Navy. Really, escaping with a creeping win against Navy makes us happy. 570 yards or so of offense and we barely beat Navy and that score is not indicative of how close it was. Very critical of the D play tonight. Coaches need to light a god damn fire under these guys in the coming weeks.

    1. Ditto -this game just adds ammunition to those knocking the Irish – and it is legit – If the Irish want to have any chance of being truly accepted as “being back” as a true power they cannot have games like this
      You must DOMINATE teams like Navy – ONLY one turnover but it was a big one The games the the rest of the season all have to be won in a big fashion for this team to be highly regarded and accepted

  4. Kelly has built an offense that must leave many invious of. Lol Watching this recieving corp blossom has been a lot of fun to watch. Golson uses them to perfection….there is no true “go-to” guy. Although Fuller appears to be one of his favorites.

    Of the many areas that I’m overwhelmed with this 2014 team is folston. I’m still grinning to see that Kelly is calling one of the rb’s numbers consistently. And Folston seems to produce more….and more….and more. Keep feeding him. I’d still very much like to see GB get the chance to dazzle along side folston as well. Steady doses of cramming the football until one breaks free for big time chunk plays.

    It’s really rare that I get excited about watching the offensive side of the ball. It’s always come second to watching the defense shut down offenses by just beating them up. Lol

    These bye weeks are killing me….bring on NAVY!!

  5. I honestly believe from the very controversial call (absolute BS) against an overrated Florida State team; Notre Dame is reeling from the loss. BK and company will use this as motivation to get his kids playing at a high mistake free level. The offense will unleash something not of this world and the defense will scare Freddy Kruger himself. This game is over early. My prediction: Notre Dame 62 – Navy 17. Go Irish Go!!

  6. If they don’t start giving GB more carries, he will be another FL recruit that will go back home for good. He is too talented and he knows it.
    Hell at least let the kid return punts if he can’t pick up blitzes well. Who cares if he dances too much. He is a freaking playmaker. Get your playmakers on the field.

  7. Aside from seeing how Navy decides to play Everett Golson, there are a couple of other players to keep an eye on.

    One is Joe Schmidt. ND’s leading tackler.
    Not only does Schmidt lead the team in tackles, he is also one of their hardest hitters.
    He will be called once again to help do a lot of the dirty work inside.
    A roll he seems to relish and excel at.

    The other is Greg Bryant.
    I believe Bryant is nearing the point of a breakout game.
    He now has that full year of injury free practice time under his belt.
    Has accumulated 9 games of playing experience.
    Is nearing the 50 career carries mark.
    Has a fresh set of legs.
    And he is hungry.

    And if I remember correctly, it was last year at this time, against this same Navy team, that a very similar Tarean Folston had his breakout game.

    1. Shaz,
      I hope you are correct about Bryant. I have really wanted to see him start to blossom like Folston has. What a solid “1-2 punch” that could be.

  8. The Irish need to use some of these games as instructional exercises. It’s clear that Navy is outclassed here. Why not use this game to work on elements that need attention. For example, I love Tarean Folston but are we ready to crown him as the second coming of running backs? Not quite yet. This game is a fantastic opportunity to tune up the running game and smooth out the rough edges. ND is going to need a solid running game in the games ahead – and especially so if they make the play-offs. That work should begin now. There should be relentless focus on execution.

    Go Irish!!!

      1. You may want to work on the “fine tuning” of writing a sentence that makes any kind of sense. It sounds like you’re under duress.

  9. For all you ignorant ND fans….were it not for Navy during WW2, ND would be a girl’s prep school now. That is why ND plays Navy every year and will continue to do so. PS every team Navy plays (save AF and Army) are bigger and “more athletic”. Is ND “bigger or more athletic” than OSU against who Navy ran for 370 yards


  10. I know this has nothing to do with Navy, but I had to say something…….

    Hey did anyone see Utah’s last TD saturday night against USC?? It was EXACTLY same play ND ran against FSU. They only had one player blocking the DB, instead of two, but it was way more flagrant than ND’s play. Just thought it was interesting… not one single flag flew, and Utah wins the game. Easy touchdown. Not one announcer mentioned the pick play. Yet it was VERY obvious. OH well………..

    Go Irish …. Kick the crap outta Navy……. New season begins Saturday night.


      Hated to see SC fall(re SOS), but love me some Utes too. And gonna be hard to see if they can beat ASU (again, SOS for ND), too.

  11. Another nothin’ to gain so much to lose ND-Navy game up next.
    I know! I Know! They helped our program out by playing us decades ago.
    Respect the service academies -yes . . .play Navy- not that into it.
    When/if it ends, no sad tear here.
    Watch your knees, guys. Keep your hands extended;
    they’re coached to chop block.
    Always a roll of the dice whether our D’ gets out without knee injuries from these chop block specialists.
    Interesting how BK alluded to how he won’t prepare for it because he won’t allow chop blocks in practice.
    Hit Keenan Reynolds often and do not soften those hits.
    Torpedo their options and bombs away EG to #7 or #2; and a few to the Admiral’s son, too. After all, it’s Navy.

    1. Michael Angelo

      Just a friendly FYI…

      A chop block is illegal.

      A cut block is not illegal…. but it should be.

      1. I couldn’t possibly agree more. Playing a team like Navy, simply for tradition’s sake, is beyond stupid. It is a no win, nothing to gain, everything to lose situation. If we beat them by 4 touchdowns, no one cares, including the voters. The line of reasoning, understandably so, is “So what? It’s Navy.” If, for any reason, you play a bad game and pull out close win, you’re suspect and it could very much affect your season.

        And then there’s the cut blocks which can, do, have ruined players’ seasons. We risk losing an indispensable player by playing a team that uses cut blocks constantly, as a matter of strategy. Ridiculous.

        *Anyone who uses the straw man argument of, “Wow you must not respect military academies / these guys are defending our country blah blah blah..”. Just don’t.

      2. JDH,

        As far as the cut blocking goes, the only thing ND could really do about it (but never would) is have OUR offensive Line cut block the Navy D-Lineman a time or two… or ten.

        If there’s anything that would end the series, that would do it.

      3. I couldn’t agree with JDH more. What exactly is the win-win for ND playing Navy every year ? Since when is it fair to expose the ND players to a higher risk of injury due to the questionable style of play of the opponent, and jeopardize not only the ND season, but also the careers of the players themselves.

  12. Notre Dame needs to come out and bury these guys. If they don’t turn the ball over I doubt this is much of a game.

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