Notre Dame v. Navy ’15: Key Matchups

Jaylon Smith - Notre Dame LB
Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame will look to rebound from its first loss of the season when the Navy Midshipmen travel to South Bend this Saturday. The Irish will need to be ready for Navy’s triple option offense, which they run with excellent efficiency. Notre Dame did an excellent job defending the triple option earlier this season defeating Georgia Tech and could put an end to questions about their ability to defend it with another strong performance this weekend. Despite the talent discrepancy Navy will certainly give the Irish a battle as they always play a full 60 minutes. The following matchups are critical to the success of the Irish on Saturday:

Jaylon Smith versus Keenan Reynolds

Notre Dame’s best defensive player Jaylon Smith will face his second elite option quarterback of the season in Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds is an elite runner and decision maker, rarely making the wrong read running the option. Reynolds is only four rushing touchdowns behind Montee Ball for the all-time NCAA record but his arm must be respected as well as he is a good passer for an option quarterback. If Smith can use his athleticism and instincts to contain Reynolds on the ground it will force Navy to pass, which they would like to avoid.

Joe Schmidt versus Chris Swain

In what will be a very physical matchup linebacker Joe Schmidt will be meeting Navy fullback Chris Swain in the hole often on Saturday. Schmidt can expect to have more than the one tackle he recorded versus Clemson as Swain carries the ball 17 times a game on average and will be taking it right down the middle of the Irish defense on most of those carries. Schmidt will need to shut down Swain as he is the first option in the triple option and if the Irish can’t stop that they are in trouble.

Mike McGlinchey versus Will Anthony

The Irish offensive line will look to bounce back from its worst performance of the season and Mike McGlinchey will have the toughest matchup in Will Anthony. Anthony is the most disruptive force on the Navy defense as he other leads or is tied for the team-lead in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. Typical of a Navy lineman Anthony is undersized at 6’1’’ 254 pounds but he won’t quit. If the Irish right tackle can stop Anthony from making plays in the backfield Notre Dame will be in good shape.

C.J. Prosise versus Micah Thomas

The Irish offensive line and running back C.J. Prosise will be looking to make a statement after struggling last week and standing in their way will be Micah Thomas. Thomas is the Midshipmen’s leading tackler but will face a much stiffer challenge than he has seen this season when he comes to South Bend. Prosise will be looking to break out again with big runs against the Navy defense which will be undersized and outgunned. If Prosise doesn’t experience success it will be a major red flag for the rest of the season.

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  1. I’m suspecting Navy with their wider gap sets used by their OL will try more FB dives than GT did.
    GTs passes to their FB at game’s end were about the only successes they had vs. that Elliot/Van Gorder scheme.Martini and Schmidt impressed vs. GT but disappeared vs. Clemson’s spread O.’
    Will Martini and Schmidt return to form vs. this option attack?
    Is this the week we see more of ILBs Grace and Morgan to stop the inside run ?
    Will ND use more DLs this week to further physically wear down Navy’s undersized OL?
    Will Shumate and/or Farley as replacements for Tranquil snuff out the option’s outside pitch? Vs. GT,
    after Tranquil’s 8 tackles thru three quarters before his injury, Farley stepped in and had 8 in just one quarter. Will Jaylon shadow K. Reynolds ?
    I’ll set the over/under @ 11 tackles for Jaylon Smith- and I’ll take the over.

    ND should score 31
    and still not be even close to done!

    How ’bout an INT by K. Russell (or two) ?
    He’s due!

    Done with rhyme
    for this time . . .

    Just WIN, ND!

  2. Well, I guess my great riddle got deleted….such thin skins.

    So here it is again:
    Who can’t stop talking, even though they have nothing of their own to ever say?
    Answer: A dummy! You know, with an arm shoved up their backside.

  3. Redfield was at his worst vs Virginia, where he failed to come down with an easy interception which would have been crucial. Same thing happened last week too. That’s great that he’s finally figuring out how to tackle, but playing with one hand taped up is a huge disadvantage, especially considering Navy always attempts a few passes vs ND and pulls out all the stops.

  4. Peter, I would remind you that Max Redfield, when his injury was at its worst, missed the Georgia Tech game. After his effort against Clemson, arguably his career best, Max should be raring to go. Further, Russell has knocked off more barnacles, and guys like Coleman, Morgan and Coney could be assets as well.

    We have enough athletes, if they play well. Lost in the all too appropriate concern over Navy is that they have not yet faced a Power Five team.

    The one downside of this game, regardless of the result, is that the preparations for this week have virtually no carryover value for USC.

    With these tall safeties being recruited, we would surmise that in future years Notre Dame will have a number of folks with the skill set and size profile that match Tranquill’s.

    One thing Van Gorder brings, as he showed with Farley’s career rescue last year. He seems competent in fashioning a role for a player who may not be up to starting full time, but can function and then some in the role shaped for him.

    I remain convinced however, that the fulcrum of the game will be the iniability of the Navy defense to slow down the Notre Dame offense.

  5. Hopefully Farley and others can step up to replace the effectiveness Tranquill enjoyed against Georgia Tech’s option attack

  6. Additionally:
    Sad Warrior vs ISIS
    BJ vs common sense
    David vs Dick Vermeil
    Hurls vs the letter ‘r’
    Second guessing vs BK

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