Frankie V’s Prediction: Can Notre Dame Slow Navy’s Triple Option

Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet

Notre Dame returns home today to take on long-time rival Navy.  Unlike a year ago, the Midshipmen are a top-25 opponent after a disastrous 2018 season in Annapolis.  The Irish meanwhile come in off their most complete win of the season, but the threat of Navy’s triple-option looms large heading into today’s contest.  Here’s how I see this one playing out.

Apologies on the late posting and abridged version this week, but again, work travel had me all over this week. 

What Worries Me This Week

Defensive line. Notre Dame lost Julian Okwara for the year last week, so there will be a shuffling of the rotation up front for the Notre Dame defense. Jamir Jones will start and has seen the option before, so that isn’t a worry, but after him is when it gets worrisome. Ovie Oghoufo and Justin Ademilola figure to play more, but neither of them has much experience against the option.

Running the football.  Notre Dame hasn’t been able to run the ball well since the USC game – with their running backs at least.  Last week Ian Book torched Duke on the ground, but the backs never got going.  Notre Dame will need its running game to keep drives alive and converting third downs.  Tony Jones and Jafar Armstrong just don’t look entirely healthy, and so far, at least, the staff has looked reluctant to give Jahmir Smith the lead role.

Not getting Navy off the field.  This is always a game that frustrates the hell out of Notre Dame fans because Navy will convert third down after third down and milk the clock.  If Notre Dame keeps Navy in third and long and plays well on first and second down, this won’t be an issue.  It has in years past against the Midshipmen though and probably will be today.

Wasting possessions.  Greg wrote about this on Friday already, but Notre Dame has to make the most out of every opportunity it has with the football since Navy tries to limit its opponent’s possessions.  We’ve seen the Notre Dame offense waste drives and waste golden opportunities at times this year.  That can’t happen today.

Ian Book has also been uncharacteristically careless with the football the last two weeks with four interceptions in the previous two games – both Notre Dame wins.  Turning the ball over and giving Navy a short field is a recipe for disaster today.

What Doesn’t Worry Me This Week

Drew White. Defensively, look for Drew White to shine today.  Remember last year, when Drue Tranquill got hurt, it was Drew White that the staff turned to because of his experience against the option.  Look for him to have a monster game and help the other linebackers play some assignment correct football.  He’ll especially need to help Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who hasn’t played against an option attack and can be vulnerable due to his aggressiveness.

Lance Taylor Has Work to Do With Notre Dame RB's This Spring

Throwing the ball.  Ian Book has looked better throwing the ball the last two, albeit with the interceptions.  This is a game in which he should be able to throw the ball with relative ease.  Navy is light years better on defense this year versus last, but in last year’s contest, Book threw for over 300 yards.  Even with the improvement, Navy just doesn’t have the athletes to cover either Chase Claypool or Cole Kmet.  Both should be able to have active games today.

Clark Lea‘s Adjustments. We’ve already seen Clark Lew adjust his defense twice this year for specific opponents.  We saw a 3-man front for USC we hadn’t seen before, and against Virginia Tech, he deployed a 5-man front.  Lea isn’t stubborn like a previously Notre Dame defensive coordinator who shall remain nameless.  He will adjust his defense to stop Navy’s option, and if the Midshipmen come out in some look he hasn’t seen before, we’ve witnessed Lea be able to adjust on the fly in those situations as well (see Louisville).

Players I’m Watching

  • Ian Book – Is he turning the corner, or did he have a good night last week?  If he struggles today, we know he hasn’t turned the corner and likely won’t this year.
  • Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa & Kurt Hinish – Notre Dame needs these two to be disruptive up front to eliminate the first option in the triple option.
  • Kyle Hamilton – He should see the field a lot, and it will be fun to watch how the heady freshman handles the option.
  • Chase Claypool – He goes over 100 yards today.

Prediction Time

This game has worried me all week long.  I want to think that Notre Dame handles Navy just fine, but we just haven’t seen evidence from this team this year that they are that kind of team.  Trust me, I realize that in year 10 of the Brian Kelly Era, Navy should not ever be a concern for Notre Dame, but this is a good Navy team, and it’s an inconsistent at best Notre Dame squad in 2019.  Almost no circumstance would surprise me.  I could see Notre Dame win comfortably, and I would not be shocked if Navy found a way to win this one relatively comfortably.

Ultimately though, I think (maybe hope moreso) that in the end, Notre Dame’s athletic ability is the difference.  I think it’s going to be a close one though.

Notre Dame 27, Navy 24


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  1. ndcrazymike 4 months ago

    SO that’s now 20-3 the last 2 seasons, good time to fire the coach ha guys! Get over the flat performance against MICH. 30-6 the last 3 years with a trip to the CFP and a top 5 finish, line up the new coaches lol !!

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    1. ndcrazymike 4 months ago

      OBTW how did everybodys favorite coach PJ fleck due this week in a big road game against a 3 loss team?

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  2. SteelFanRob 4 months ago

    Useless drives for PJ!

    Why not give him the entire playbook to use, BK?!

    The RBs remain stagnant. Against better teams, with better athletes, this team will struggle to get points. No RB running game, weak OL play, etc.

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  3. SteelFanRob 4 months ago

    About the only problems with this game were a few injuries and that last drive that means PJ gets only two drives this entire half.

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  4. SteelFanRob 4 months ago

    Just realized I was posting on the “Though the Odds” column.

    I don’t want Jeff to think that I’m O for 2 the last two weeks 😉

    Claypool and Book on fire today!

    Keep it going, lads!

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    1. jeff 4 months ago

      Wake up SteelFan!!! haha

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  5. spiceyirish 4 months ago

    Flutie: “I don”t care what the score is, this kid (Malcolm Perry), is electric.

    Perry has 3 fumbles. Notre Dame are going in for a 38-0 lead near the end of the first half.

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    1. charlie 4 months ago

      Each time they cut in to the booth, the berry above Flutie’s right eye kept getting bigger.

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  6. jeff 4 months ago

    Great start for the Irish!!!! 21-0

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  7. Michael The Archangel 4 months ago

    I wanted to post this before the game begins. Watch your knees this week, boys, whether you call them chop blocks or cut blocks. In Economics, there’s a concept called opportunity cost- is what you invest into something worth the return on your investment? According to BK, ND invests extra practice time and bringing in recruits or walk-ons so as to prepare for Navy’s unique O’. Plus this year Navy (like six other teams) scheduled a bye week before ND’s game to further prepare for their game plan. The reward for scheduling Navy doesn’t match up with the risk of loss or knee injuries, and the subsequent lack of credit even when ND wins. When ND beats Navy, little recognition is earned; when they lose or even if it’s close, it’s negative news (e.g. Michigan beating an inferior football team academy (Army) is a further example of diminishing returns even though Michigan won, but by only three, 24-21, or after Oklahoma’s scare a few seasons ago vs. the Cadets). Excuse the long ramble, but isn’t 75 years plus in gratitude for the war-time scheduling enough of a payback, especially now with Navy in the AAC? I know all about the tradition, but scheduling them occasionally rather than annually would better enable ND’s opportunity to gain greater recognition for their wins, needed now more than ever as ND strives annually to qualify for the CFP, securing a spot without the benefit of a conference championship.

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  8. Gellyfish 4 months ago

    As both a U.S. Navy veteran, and an ND fan, my intuition tells me that these “hungry” Midshipmen, will wrestle this one away from a lackluster Fighting Irish team, desperately searching, for an identity.

    Go Navy! Go Irish!

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  9. Greg Kelly 4 months ago

    Hope to see Book open it up with his downfield weapons in Claypool, Finke, McKinley, Kmet. And Gilman get game ball.

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  10. Ron Burgundy 4 months ago

    The Frankie V post is the unofficial start to every weekend.
    Let the games begin (and gnashing of teeth, boycotts, Plan B’s, hyperventilating on every bad play)
    It’s Saturday, enjoy!
    Stay classy!

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    1. ndcrazymike 4 months ago

      PERFECT RON, and always with lots of CLASS!

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  11. jeff 4 months ago

    Notre Dame wins this game rather easily 42-17. There will be no significant reps for our backup QBs. SteelFanRob starts a new streak of in game comments.

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