Beyond the Boxscore: Navy Runs Wild on Notre Dame

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

Despite having a clear understanding of how the Navy Midshipmen’s offense operates on a regular basis, the Notre Dame defense was still unable to clamp down and ended up on the short end of a 28-27 score. The defeat strips away much of the remaining chance that the Irish will go to a bowl game next month, considering they need to win their final three contests just to be considered for a mediocre bowl attracted by the allure of Notre Dame.

Elusive Targets

The Midshipmen have long relied on its running game to supply the bulk of its offense. Therefore, the fact that they ran the ball 88 percent of the time during this contest shouldn’t have been a surprise. Yet they still racked up 320 rushing yards and were especially effective starting a series, gaining 127 yards on 23 first down carries.

Navy’s quarterback Will Worth was clearly the focal point of the offense, yet he eluded enough defenders to finish the afternoon with 175 yards on 28 carries, crossing the goal line on two occasions.

Third Down Dread

Despite that heavy focus on the run, Navy was still strong when it came to delivering on third down. The Midshipmen’s 10.3 average on 11 third down runs were aided by two key plays that either resulted in a touchdown or set one up.

The first was a 37-yard run by Worth to cap the first drive of the second half and give the Midshipmen a 21-17 advantage. The second came during their next drive. Facing a third-and-seven at the Irish 28, Worth broke off a 27-yard run and soon after gave Navy the lead for good.

Costly Penalties

The Irish were flagged seven times during the game, three penalties coming on offense. All were false starts, but it was their defensive mistakes that helped the Midshipmen score a pair of touchdowns. In the first quarter, a 15-yard personal foul put the ball on the Notre Dame 16 and on the next play, Navy knotted the score.

Then, in the fourth quarter, two calls for 12 men on the field were called on the Irish during the same drive. The first was especially costly, since it turned a fourth-and-six into a fourth-and-one call. The Midshipmen converted and nine plays later, they took the lead for good.

The Stops That Never Came

After Brian Kelly made the decision to kick a field goal to cut the Irish deficit to a single point with 7:28 remaining, the Notre Dame defense needed to make a key stop at some point in the ensuing drive. That stop never happened, most likely due to the exhaustion factor catching up to the Irish defenders.

Navy had just three drives during the entire second half, yet they consisted of 37 plays and over 20 minutes worth of ball control. The first two drives ended with touchdowns and the last managed to eat up the remaining time on the clock. Ironically, the nail in the coffin came on fourth-and-six with 1:19 left, when the Midshipmen completed a 15-yard pass play.

Next Up

With a minor bowl berth the lone motivation remaining for the 2016, the Irish will look to do better next Saturday with another branch of the armed services when they face the Army Black Knights. This latest edition of the Shamrock Series will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The venue seems appropriate for Notre Dame since it marks the first of three last-ditch efforts to salvage their season.


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  1. Alley O'Cat 3 years ago

    What is most upsetting is the consistent offensive stalls that happen in every game. Something happens and the offense just seems stuck in low gear. I was hoping the Irish would mix things up offensively later in the game. Maybe some mis-directions, jet sweeps, ect. Did Dexter Williams get any carries? I was disappointed in the pay calling, especially near the goal line. Kept hoping that Jarron Jones would have a Miami-like game. The front seven on D gave up too many yards on a regular basis. Special teams kept giving VT excellent field position. The Irish need to stop the penalties, especially on the O-Line.

    Now, since we are headed for 4-8, the only questions are which will coaches go and which players will transfer.

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  2. Rock 3 years ago

    ND has 3 coaches calling plays on offense, BK, Denenbrock and Sanford, and this unimaginative offense is the best they can come up with?

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  3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

    It simple fire swarbrick from football duties
    Let him do basketball and hockey etc
    Hire Lou as a consultant to get us the best football ad and urban Meyer

    Why are we waiting?????????!??

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    1. HURLS 3 years ago

      Bruce – are you serious asking that question? (“Why are we waiting?”) You don’t build college football programs overnight. You don’t build a Lou Holtz-quality program in 3-years. (even though he did > it was 25-years ago) Also, kids are different these days. (I’m a 49-year old OLD FART) Actualizing the conceptual is very, very hard. Good day.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        Kelly has built nothing
        Great leaders admit their mistakes and move on
        Kelly was a huge swarbrick mistake
        But he won’t admit it
        He has to go
        Kelly has to go
        I have waited thru wadsworth white and swarbrick
        How many gd years do I have to wait?
        Yours is the ideology of a loser.
        This is not is not is not Fighting Irish Football.

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      2. SteelFanRob 3 years ago

        How long did it take Saban, Meyer, and Harbaugh to build their respective programs?! So I’m calling your BS out, “Hurls.”

        I know you want to defend your fellow Bostonian. Perhaps Bill Belicheat will hire BK as the Pats STs coach after he leaves S. Bend.

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    2. George 3 years ago

      Bob Davie already convinced Urbs to never take the job. It’s over.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        You guys talk like the loser Kelly

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    3. George 3 years ago

      You can call me pessimistic, negative or faithless, but I don’t see how “loser” makes any sense in this context. Nor do I understand why your omniscient Urban Meyer would require a consultant such as one Lou Holtz.

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      1. SteelFanRob 3 years ago


        There’s clearly a middle ground between “Hurls” and “bj.”

        BTW “Hurls”: all the ND coaching legends had won a NC by their third season. So I really don’t buy your “Rome wasn’t built in a day” argument. How long are you willing to wait? Apparently three decades of mediocre football is OK by you.

        As for “bj,” he’s a broken record. He says the same thing over and over and never makes any kind of case for his ravings. Apparently no one has ever told him that Urban has already spurned ND twice.

        Between “Hurls'” acceptance of wretched football and excuse-making for endless mediocrity, and “bj’s” delusions that Vince Lombardi will come back from the dead and bring back his power sweep with him, there’s the rest of us who have given up on BK’s BS and realize Saban isn’t leaving Bama anytime soon. The rest of us can agree to disagree on who to hire next and when. But just don’t try to sell me “Hurls'” BK is a great Boston guy who deserves a free pass or “bj’s” tiring pleadings to hire Knute Rockne and recruit “the Four Horsemen” and “the Seven Mules.”

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      2. Damian 3 years ago

        I agree with SFR. BK had his chances. Usually by the 3rd or 4th year you know if your coach is the real deal. BK bought himself some extra time with the 2012 season, and yes, some things occurred that weren’t under his control (losing EG for a year, some critical injuries), but their can be no excuses for this year. Losing to Duke crossed the line for me (and then everything since). There is no doubt BK lost this team.

        Now we are stuck with BK for one more year. I doubt it will occur, but my hope is that BK does a complete top-down re-evaluation and makes fundamental changes in his coaching. Again, I don’t see it happening, but it’s a hope nonetheless.

        And I also agree, BJ just repeats his rants over and over again, and if you disagree with him that ND should grovel and beg coaches who would sooner vomit on them then coach for ND, then you’re a loser. I don’t really sweat it though, because ND is not going to give Meyer another chance to give them the finger.

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      3. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        You guys tell me time and time again a great coach will never come to nd. If you want to make a sale you have to convince the guy that the school wants and will back him. If Lou Holtz told me He speaks for Father Jenkins and he wants
        Urban Meyer. I believe Lou. I do not believe swarbrick. It’s a question of belief integrity and honor.
        Lou gives us that brand.! go get the best! In the movies Rockne all American Rockne chews out his players for not being fighting Irish!!! Then one of the players yells out: What are we waiting for

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      4. Damian 3 years ago

        No one says a great coach will never come to ND. Only that Saban and Meyer are not coming.

        But they are not the only good coaches out there. There are plenty of coaches rising through the ranks that ND can find that will one day be elite coaches in their own right. Even Saban and Meyer worked up the ranks. They didn’t just wake up one day elite. Others have pointed out many of ND’s past elite coaches became elite at ND. There’s no reason ND can’t do the same again.

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      5. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        There was a coach that came to the redskins and did pretty well. His motto was the future is now. I don’t want a coach that maybe maybe someday will be a Cinderella coach from some small Mac level
        School that makes it big. There is nothing much left of our reputation. We need a proven winner. You guys quit before u even try. And try and try. In my lifetime I learned you can make unimaginable thinks happen if you try. I don’t want some future possible maybe good coach from western Michigan Or northwestern.

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      6. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

        So nobody from the MAC or Northwestern?
        So then Ara is out.

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  4. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 years ago

    1. This is the second time (MSU) on fourth down in the fourth quarter, while trailing, that BK has decided NOT to put the ball in the hands of our best player (our best player by far). That is bizarre.

    2. Even in the unlikely event that Kizer does not pick up the first down, you are giving NAVY the ball inside the 15 with the lead – as opposed to kicking the field goal and giving them the ball at the twenty-five still with the lead. I think our “D” would have had a better chance defending a +85 yard field than a 75 yard field. It just all seems so weird.

    Bruce GC 77′ 82′

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      It could have been a 5,000 yard field. They weren’t getting the ball back.

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      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 years ago

        So kick the field goal? How does that help?

        Bruce GC
        La Crosse, Indiana

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      2. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

        No reading comprehension back at ND in the late ’70s?
        I’m agreeing with you.

        Ron Burgundy
        San Diego, CA

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      3. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 years ago

        Oh. Sorry Ron, I’m still a little stunned by that play call on fourth down – I’m still trying to process it. Yeah, the risk of never getting the ball back was very very high – it’s the flexbone’s forte, and they got touchdowns on 4 of 6 possessions up to that point (I think).

        Bruce GC 77′ 82′

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  5. Tim D 3 years ago

    I watched the LSU/ALABAMA game last night and I really believe that there isn’t 1 Irish defensive player that could ever play a down on either team and that really shows that Kelly doesn”t understand how to recruit defense we recruit wrs qbs and te every year and yes there are some talented offensive people but how is it possible that we’re playing basically 4 or 5 freshmen in the secondary what happened why is there no sr,jr or sophs you can’t recruit 1 position every 3 years and even now when looking at there recruiting class where are the secondary guys. The first year Kelly coached ND I wanted him fired I started warming up to him cause you could see the talent level improving this year has been a disaster to saay the least I didn’t think we would be very good but never thought it would be this bad I think it all started with the Zaire/Kizer thing against Texas Zaire played bad and it shouldn’t have taken 2 quarters to figure out that Kizer was the guy that night I do believe that Zaire checked out when he found out he wasn”t the starter and I would’nt be surprised if he transfers but the NC St game was the game that really made me think that BK doesn”t get it in an actual hurricane you call 38 pass plays instead of playing Zair Kelly cost us the Texas, NC St, Stanford,and Navy games the defense cost us the Michigan St game and Duke game I also would say that Kizer played a roll in losing the Duke and Stanford game not a big fan of his too

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  6. SMOKEY ROB 3 years ago


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  7. Robet B 3 years ago

    When the game was tied early on at 7 apiece and N D had third and two inside the 20 Kelly elects to go empty backfield and throw instead of running to try and pick up the first down. If need be with 3rd and 4th downs run the damn ball.

    Then he settles for a field goal and he does the same thing with the fourth and 4 with seven and change to go in the game. i guess it took me a long time too figure out the he was not the right guy for this school and it just seems he doesn’t care anymore.

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  8. pete 3 years ago

    What is scary is Kelly saying on the conference call that he doesn’t feel any major changes are needed. Just keep doing what we are doing and we will break through. He can’t be serious can he? what is the definition of insanity, doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result Swarbrick needs to dump this guy asap. What is there to look forward to? I watched Washington, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama and Michigan yesterday. Notre Dame is so far away from those teams coaching wise it is laughable.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      Now that’s a full day of watching football peter.
      I’d like to call bs on it but hey stranger things have happened.

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  9. Mike "King" Kelly 3 years ago

    A nice breather, patsy coming up in Army. Just 2 wins away from being bowl ready!

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    1. SteelFanRob 3 years ago


      There are no patsies for ND anymore! Recent history is all you need as proof of this. There’s no (formerly known as) D1 team that can’t beat ND at this point. Heck, there are probably a couple of (formerly known as) D2 teams that could beat ND and even more that could give them a run for their money.

      Has anyone noticed that when on the ND broadcasts they mention the opposing QB grew up a ND football fan they somehow play the game of their lives and end up beating the Irish? Year after year I’ve noticed this.

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    2. George 3 years ago

      Oh, what a sweet post. Bless your heart.

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    3. SteelFanRob 3 years ago

      So let’s assume that ND beats Army. Who else do they beat? VT? USC? Very unlikely.

      This team should not play in a bowl unless they finish 6-6. Even that’s a stretch.

      Frankly, this whole team and staff should just skulk away at this point and go hide in shame somewhere. This is one of the worst examples of ND football I recall seeing in my life.

      Funny how all the “pie-in-the-sky” crowd have gone into early hibernation. Sure we get an occasional haiku or other idiocy from the know-nothings who seem to want to posture about anything other than ND football. But actual in-game or post-game commentary is utterly missing from the “don’t say anything bad about BK bunch”. Even calling the rest of us “Debbie downers” seems to have gone out of style. I guess even the blind-ass crowd can smell a turd!

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    4. SteelFanRob 3 years ago

      I think “Magic Mike” is being sarcastic or ironic. No one who actually follows ND football would really believe there’s anything like a patsy on ND’s schedule anymore.

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      1. George 3 years ago

        Don’t be so sure

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  10. Alley O'Cat 3 years ago

    The defense sucks. The offense sucks. Special Teams sucks.

    Just wondering who will transfer after the season.

    Football (despite the moronic sideline dancing) doesn’t seem like its fun for the players.

    Not exactly fun for the fans either…..

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    1. George 3 years ago

      Good point on the sideline dancing. It’s clearly working wonders.

      Maybe BK will be the one to “transfer.” His ego might be too large to stick around for another year of this humiliation.

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  11. zeke1883 3 years ago

    Wait till they stumble again against army

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