Weekly Matchups: Notre Dame Hits the Road for Annual Navy Battle

Irish look to build on three-game winning streak against struggling Midshipmen

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off their most impressive performance of the season following their 35-14 pounding of the Clemson Tigers. They enter this rivalry clash against the Navy Midshipmen hoping to continue their recent success and have their running game surging at the right time of year.

Navy enters enter this game with a 3-6 record and is coming off a competitive 20-10 road loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Midshipmen have struggled in recent years, compiling a record of 10-21 since 2020, with no bowl appearances. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo is in his 15th season at the Naval Academy and continues to rely almost exclusively on the triple option offense.

Below are some of the key matchups to watch in this contest:

QB Drew Pyne vs. Navy Defense

Pyne has been able to rely on a consistent running game in recent weeks. His overall numbers are down as a result but the scoreboard clearly shows that it’s a winning strategy for the Irish. Navy is more vulnerable through the air, so Pyne may choose to supplement the work of his backs by looking at his different receiving options.

The Midshipmen have offered a mixed bag on offense, allowing just over 38 points per game in three of their losses, In the other trio of defeats, they’ve managed to keep things interesting by only allowing an average of just under 16 points per contest. Navy has been able to force nine fumbles and picked off six passes, so Pyne does need to be careful with the ball.

Notre Dame Defense vs. QB Xavier Arline

Even though the Irish did allow 14 points to Clemson, those points came with Notre Dame comfortably in the lead. Two interceptions by freshman Benjamin Morrison helped break the game open, but the Irish secondary won’t see too many tosses through the air in this one. Notre Dame defenders have allowed 3.8 yards per rushing carry and have to be on guard to keep Navy’s game in check.

Arline has taken over for Tai Lavatai, who was lost for the season a few weeks ago with a knee injury. He’s almost exclusively a runner with backup Maasai Maynor the primary passer when that rarity occurs. Navy has had problems in recent years with their once-powerful triple option attack, so if the Irish can shut this down, it could make for an easy afternoon of work.

T Joe Alt vs. DE Jacob Busic

Alt continues to be a central component of an offensive line that’s opened up plenty of holes for the thriving running game. In addition, he’s also been invaluable in protecting Pyne on his blind side, with the Irish line allowing only five sacks in the past six contests. Alt has the size to contain Busci but will need to maintain the consistency he’s shown all year.

Busic is the Midshipmen’s leader in sacks and manages to find his way into opposing backfields. His numbers in that category have largely come against some of Navy’s weaker opponents, which makes his matchup with Alt a challenge that should be intriguing to watch. Busic hits hard and will do his part to contain a Notre Dame offense that’s averaged 40 points per game in their last three contests.

DT Howard Cross vs. C Lirion Murtezi

Cross isn’t among the leaders when it comes to tackles or sacks but he plays an important role on the inside of the Notre Dame defensive line. He does have three sacks and despite not possessing a great deal of size, he can handle himself against bigger opposing linemen. His ability to affect a game was evident in the win over Syracuse when he tipped a pass that was picked off by Marist Liufau.

Murtezi only recently returned to the lineup after suffering a season-ending injury last year. He’s big and has the athletic ability to shift to guard, if necessary. During his high school days, he played on the defensive line, so he’s well-versed when it comes to life in the trenches. Neutralizing his impact should help limit any damage the Navy running attack can do.

WR Jayden Thomas vs. STRIKER John Marshall

Given Marshall’s looming presence, right tackle Blake Fisher will need to keep him out of the backfield. Yet, when Notre Dame looks to go to the air, Thomas is getting to be a more popular option for Pyne. Thomas matched his career high with three grabs against Clemson and gives the Irish an athletic player who can get up for a 50-50 ball.

Marshall’s role is serving as a hybrid linebacker and safety and he’s shown the ability to get into the backfield as well as drop back into pass coverage. He leads the team with 72 tackles, 13 of those stops behind the line of scrimmage. He’s also slapped away seven passes on the year and is slightly larger than Thomas, which will make for interesting viewing.

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  1. I’m not mourning for him.. I think he left the cupboard pretty well stocked, much as Devine left for Faust. I think he left at a good time; he had reached a ceiling at ND, but a high bar. .three undefeated regular seasons, with playoffs.

    David, I, for one, am happy to give credit whwhe it’s due.

    BGC 77 82

    1. Notwithstanding that the kids aren’t canned beans……
      Cocky didn’t leave giving a rat’s ass whether the ‘cupboard was stocked’ or not.
      And he tried to take the kitchen staff, too.

      And though its already starting to look like this might (fingers crossed) be a fanastic change…..and these kids now really appear jazzed to play for ND…..that shmegma stain never did give a flying fuck about them.
      Any of ’em. For fuck’s sake, he ghosted T’eo and he slagged Kizer. Fuckin’ prock.

      He just up and left….for more money and an easier shot at getting even more undeserved credit.

      And cucks like you are STILL too oblvious to realize you should have hated that selfish prick for wasting a goddamn decade of your Fall Saturdays……and he’s STILL belittling ND.

      Wake the fuck up, idiot, and try having some self-worth.

      1. I never developed more instant respect for another fanbase than when Tennessee fans railed on Lane Kiffin……absoulutely epic.
        “Runaway Lane” is Grammy worthy.
        Go Vols !

  2. I’m not mourning for him.. I think he left the cupboard pretty well stocked, much as Devine left for Faust. I think he left at a good time; he had reach

  3. Since we are taking a trip down memory lane, here’s an all time classic.

    September 17, 2015 at 11:34 am
    You are in for one brutal dose of realty this Saturday. Johnson wants to rub VanGorder’s nose in it bad enough to shorten his career. GT will whip ND like a rented mule.
    A Plan B for yourself for the 2nd half will prove prescient.

    1. I could be flattered that Rhonda has a file on me. But she’s just a spinster scrapbooker, with a basement of others’ files….like her hero, Orange Blovious

      Pray for Rhonda. That she might someday post an original thought…perhaps even on football.
      Meanwhile, floss sweetie. You still got Kelly pubes in your teeth.

  4. I really think the key matchup will be Al Golden vs the triple option. It will be quite interesting to see his approach especially now that Xavier Arline will be the starting quarterback. I have looked at a lot of videos of Arline and he is small but cat quick. He’s shifty, elusive, and can dart through a sliver of daylight. However, he has absolutely no passing game. So…what kind of a defense will Al Golden dial up? It should be fascinating.

  5. Navy game is held in November, when we honor veterans, and remember…
    So here’s a November moment from Kelly’s Scrapbook of Excellence:

    “…..Between a failed 2-point attempt vs. kicking to go up 3 scores, and some puzzling play-calling near the goal line and down the stretch, all eyes will be on the man in charge of the Irish program.
    And rightfully so.
    In Kelly’s fifth year at Notre Dame, his program seemed to be well past a loss like this.
    But in less than a month, the Irish went from a team that was one offensive pass interference call in Tallahassee away from a Top Four ranking to losing three of its last four, likely falling from the Top 25 and looking at two very difficult games to finish the regular season….”
    Northwestern 43, ND 40 (OT), November 2014.
    THAT is the Brian Kelly you pathetic cucks — Rhonda, Keith, Bruce, Donald Duck — mourn for.

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