Beyond the Boxscore: Breaking Down Notre Dame’s Blowout of Navy

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish continued their dominance against Navy as they routed the Midshipmen on Saturday by a score of 52-17. The Irish scored on the first possession of the game and were never challenged by a team that entered the game with a 7-1 record and was ranked 22nd in the polls. The victory improves Notre Dame’s season record to 8-2, continues their spotless mark at home, and keeps them in contention for a major bowl berth.

Below are critical observations from the game:

Early Onslaught

While Navy’s defense entered this game as a suspect entity, it’s doubtful that Notre Dame was expecting how easy it would be to blow the game open. On each of their six drives during the first half, the Irish managed to put points on the board, a situation that allowed them to coast with a 38-3 lead once play resumed in the third quarter.

The bulk of the yardage gained by Notre Dame came through the air during this battering, with Ian Book throwing for four touchdowns in the first 20 minutes of action. Book ended the half with 11 completions in 14 attempts for 209 yards and also ran for 31 yards. His longest scoring toss came on on a 70-yard scoring grab to Braden Lenzy, with Book throwing for another score in the second half and finishing with 284 yards.

Fumble Follies

Capitalizing on opposing mistakes is always something that improves the chances for a victory, and Notre Dame took full advantage of Navy’s four fumbles by converting them into 28 of their 52 points on the afternoon. The first of these came with the Irish holding a 7-0 lead, and after the Midshipmen’s opening drive ended with a Notre Dame fumble recovery. Two plays later turned into the first of four touchdown tosses from Book to Chase Claypool.

After getting prime field position after the second fumble, the Irish needed just four plays to boost their advantage to 21-0. With just under five minutes left in the first half and Notre Dame now leading 31-0, a fumble recovery at the Navy 24 led to Notre Dame’s final score of the first half. Finally, with less than 30 seconds gone in the final quarter, the Irish needed no offensive plays after Paul Moala scooped up a fumble and dashed 27 yards for the last Irish score.

Chase Claypool Delivers Again

Entering the 2019 season, Notre Dame’s coaching staff was hoping that Chase Claypool would finally emerge as the team’s go-to receiver. That wish has come true, with the 6-foot-5 Claypool snagging seven passes for 117 yards and finding the end zone four times. That gives the big man 49 catches on the year, one away from matching his 2018 output.

Those four scores helped put Claypool in the Irish history books, matching the 2005 performance of Maurice Stovall against BYU. His size came in handy against the smallish Navy defenders and continues his strong November performance that’s seen him haul in 20 passes for 332 yards in the three Notre Dame wins.

Garbage Time Illusion

Merely looking at most of the statistics in the Notre Dame-Navy game without knowing the score would give an observer a false impression of the Irish’s 42-point win that was over in the second quarter. That’s because Navy ended up with more first downs, held onto the ball for over 35 minutes and collected 360 yards of offense, including 281 on their traditionally dominant running game.

At halftime, the Midshipmen had only 151 yards of offense, with 46 of those yards coming on a single play in the final minute of the second quarter. Quarterback Malcolm Perry’s 46-yard dash helped set up the lone first-half Navy score on a 27-yard field goal at the gun. Of course, one look at the turnover category helps wipe away the illusion, with Navy’s four fumbles compared to a spotless day in that category for the Irish.

Next Up

Like five of Notre Dame’s last six opponents, the Boston College Eagles will be coming off a bye week when they travel to face the Irish next Saturday. During much of this season, the Eagles have traded wins and losses, something that helps explain why they’ll enter this game with a 5-5 overall record and have split their four road contests.

The Irish hold a 15-9 advantage in this series that dates back to 1975 and has been marked by streaky success during the 21st Century. At present, the Irish will be looking for their seventh consecutive win over Boston College after the Eagles had won the previous six matchups. After three road trips to face BC, Notre Dame will be hosting a contest for the first time since 2011.

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  1. Gust Avrakotos : There’s a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse…
    and everybody in the village says, “how wonderful. The boy got a horse” And the Zen master says, “we’ll see.”
    Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, “How terrible.”
    And the Zen master says, “We’ll see.” Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight.
    .. except the boy can’t cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, “How wonderful.”

    Charlie Wilson : Now the Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

    “We’ll see” about Book over time. There is no need to rush to judgement.

    You can bet Kelly, Long and Rees are communicating with BOTH Book and Jurkovec.

    We’ll see

  2. If the Book against Navy is the Book we’ll see in the future then shame on me for griping about BK not
    giving Jukovec the chance to create an explosive offense, and apologies to the coaches who know more about their players than I, or anyone for that matter. I hope Books play on Saturday was his coming
    out party on vertical passing and not just a reflection of Navy’s very over-rated defense.

  3. Pete, we should get a Cotton Bowl bid if we play out like we have the past two weeks, and even back to the final drive against VT. We’ve looked unbeatable since then. However, if the Committee continues to strand us at 15 or 16 in their polls, despite all evidence that screams for a higher ranking, it is conceivable that we could get screwed. this would especially be the case if the Committee continues to “float” other teams in the polls rather than dropping them fairly after a loss. My understanding of the rules is that if we finish in the top 12, we are guaranteed a New Year’s Six bid. But I am not sure if this is (still) the rule.

    As for the rest of the posts – yes, we will win a NC next year. We already have a few key guys coming back for their final eligibility year, much like Tranquill and Comey for 2017…if we get a “Tillery” or two to jump on, like for 2017, that would be gravy. And Tyree will show up ready to RUN! All the pieces are in place. Thanks to our assistant coaches, BK and Balin. They have done the jobs they started in the Spring of 2016.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    BGC ’77 ’82

  4. Had to like the defensive preparation for Navy. Previous games they were running their option at will. Really liked Kyle Hamilton reaching in for a stop

  5. didnt see much of Kmet yesterday. Was he playing or out with an injury. Also if Notredame wins out which they should buy you never know where is Notredame projected to play in the bowl game?

  6. Funny how everyone is talking about how great Book was in this game and there right he was awesome. But lets pump the brakes a little and realize it was against an OVERRATED Navy defense. Book has had his great moments this year throwing for 5 TDs three different times which is a ND record. Lets give the defense an equal amount if not more credit for there outstanding effort. I still feel ND will run the table and get to 10-2 and hopefully face a tough opponent in a meaningful bowl game. Then we will see if Book has turned the corner and if Kelly has learned how to prepare his team for a tough road game.

    1. agree need to see Book do this the next 3 games including the bowl game.Also I agree that Lenzy should be getting the ball a lot more a nd Long should be lining him up all over the field. This kid is electric. Keys to I think can be a real playmaker too.

  7. A dominant win over a Group of 5 opponent, that frankly should be dominated. Book had a strong game. Hopefully ND wins out, gets a NY 6 bowl with a, SIGNIFICANT meaningful opponent and then we may find out has Book crossed the line finally as a good QB or is he the QB of how he looked against Clemson, Georgia, Michigan who are a bit higher in caliber than Navy.
    Why is Lenzy not being used more in this offense? He has flashes of a Rocket.

    1. That’s what I’ll be curious to see. Is this a turnaround for Book or are the opponents just not up to par. We’ll need a good bowl opponent with a good defense to really know for sure.

      I’ve seen some players with injuries take time to come back 100%.

      For instance, I’m a Boston Celtics fan and last year when Gordon Hayward returned from his broken leg he was not the same…to the point fans started to think his best days were over. But this year, after another summer, he is clearly back. Well until he broke his hand. But that’s far different from a leg injury so I’m sure in a few weeks he’ll be back to normal.

      Maybe the same will happen to Book. My main concern is if Book starts again next year do we lose Jurkovec? He’s supposed to even better, and if so I’d hate to lose him.

      1. Yeah, I wondered that too Damian. Though not predicting it, I would not be surprised if Phil put himself in the transfer portal after the season is over, especially if ND finishes 11-2.


  9. 2nd strong win in a row. Hopefully they keep it going. Navy was arguably better than Duke so that helps.

    I really liked the first drive of the game too (except for the false start penalty–otherwise almost perfect). ND was methodical and even burned over 5 minutes of clock right there.

    They pretty quickly took control of the game from then on. If they keep the trend going they should be able to get a NY Day 6 bowl and hopefully then can find out where they stand.

    Michigan was a big blow but it is nice to see ND having a strong November for a change. It was like that final drive against VT two weeks back finally woke up the offense.

  10. It was nice to see Notredames offense look prolific.I loved the bomb to Lenzy and especially for the second week in a row Book looked really good.College football is so unique because 1 loss can ruin your playoff national championship dreams. The thing we have to hope for next year is that Tyree is the real deal and gives Notredame a homerun hitter at running back

    1. Agree. Tyree paired with a healthy Armstrong might be lethal. I have to eat some crow on Book. He’s really turned it around, and if he plays like this, I’d be okay with him coming back next year. Still, would like to see PJ given the reins to see what he can do. Kelly can’t seriously expect him to sit on the pine another year right?

      1. Yeah, put me in the “Was I wrong?” camp. Book’s long passes to both Claypool and Lenzy were gems, and both between the
        hashmarks. We have two games and a bowl left. Can he continue to throw both long and between the hashmarks.

        There remain two other issues:
        the RPO nimbleness and the ability to stay calm under pressure,
        a skill which may not be needed until next November, when clemson comes calling.

        Two weeks ago, I thought we’d be facing a Jurkovec/Book battle in the spring. Now I’m more confused.

        The challenge for the Kelly/Long/Rees troika is not being nice to Ian. It is to answering the question:
        In fairness to the whole squad and the mission of Notre Dame football, is Ian Book the kind of QB who will, in 2020,
        perform well enough against Clemson and SC to give us a shot at a national championship? That question is not yet answered, but
        it is much less laughable than it was after that rainy night in Ann Arbor.

        I’m clear on this, the troika must do the RIGHT THING for the team, follow facts and truth, and wherever that leaves Book and Jurkovec,
        so be it. The fulcrum of decision making can not be quarterback loyalty or personality.

        But this Book of the last three weeks is not the Book we’ve seen before..

        I’m scrambling for an analog here. Joe Theismann did not really click until mid season ’69. Then he took off.

        2020 may be interesting..

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