Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Gets 2023 Season Going with 42-3 Rout of Navy

Starting off the 2023 season in Dublin, Ireland, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish barely broke a sweat in thrashing the Navy Midshipmen by a 42-3 score on Saturday. Just over two-thirds of the Irish’s total offense was gained in the opening two quarters, with new quarterback Sam Hartman delivering a sparkling debut.

Just like their last meeting on the Emerald Isle 11 years ago, Notre Dame took a commanding first-half lead and then coasted the rest of the way. The ease of the victory allowed Irish head coach Marcus Freeman to substitute liberally and allow many of the newcomers and raw talent to get noticed.

Below are some of the key aspects of the victory:

A Flood of Options

Going into this contest, Notre Dame not only had a new quarterback but also a mix of new or barely tested talent among the receiving corps. By the conclusion of the contest, Hartman had found time to complete passes to eight different receivers, including converted running back Chris Tyree

Hartman finished the game completing 19 of 23 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns. He avoided making any errors, with four specific receivers accounting for 13 of those receptions. Jayden Thomas led all wideouts with four grabs and scored on a 14-yeard catch with just 13 seconds left in the first half. Tyree, Deion Colzie and Jaden Greathouse each snagged three of his tosses, with Greathouse crossing the goal line twice and Colzie once.

Sinking Navy

A key example of the futility of Navy’s offense during the first half was that after their first three plays gained 31 yards, their remaining 25 plays managed a total of 83 yards. Among that latter amount, 56 came in an eight-minute drive during the second quarter that ultimately stalled out and ended with a missed 37-yard field goal attempt.

Falling behind was something that the Midshipmen couldn’t afford, considering that their offense is almost exclusively built on the run. The one pass attempt they made fell incomplete and eating up the clock amounted to nothing. To compound the latter issue, the Irish then marched down the field in a two-minute drive that culminated with a score to make it 28-0 at the break.

The Midshipmen had some talented defensive players but they were rendered virtually invisible by the Irish offensive line and the talented skill players. That became evident during the first two Notre Dame drives, when they racked up six plays of 10 or more yards, with three more gaining nine yards apiece.

Running Things Smoothly

Navy’s reliance on the run resulted in the Midshipmen amassing just 171 yards on the ground, an amount topped by the Irish, which collected 191 for the contest. Audric Estime paced Notre Dame with 95 yards on 16 carries, getting started early on the first series of the game by carrying the ball five times. Those carries included the first touchdown and also a 22-yard third-down catch from Hartman.

Yet Estime wasn’t the only Irish runner to get noticed, with the trio of Jeremyah Love, Gi’Bran Payne and Jadarian Price essentially combining to match Estime’s output. The threesome collectively gained 96 yards on 14 carries, with Price bolting 19 yards for a score with just over a minute left in the opening period.

Blips on the Radar

Finding flaws in an otherwise strong performance is something that Notre Dame’s coaching staff will seek out when they get multiple looks at the game. The Irish only committed one penalty during the entire game and that took place on the opening drive when Mitchell Evans was flagged for holding. That error put the Irish in a bind, making it third-and-12, though Estime kept the drive going on the next play.

Estime himself also offered a brief glimpse of his main flaw last year when he fumbled on the first play of Notre Dame’s second drive of the contest. However, the Irish recovered and ultimately marched 63 yards for another touchdown.

Next Up for Notre Dame Football

The 2023 edition of Notre Dame football gets to make a little history next Saturday when they host the Tennessee State Tigers. What makes the matchup historic is that it marks the first time ever that a historically black college or university (HBCU) will serve as an opponent for the Irish.

From a football perspective, the Irish should have little trouble in the game and figure to be huge favorites. Yet, taking a team lightly early in the season is not advised, with Marcus Freeman undoubtedly ready to remind his team about last year’s debacle against Marshall.

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  1. Of course, Hartman and Estime are difference makers.
    Anxious to see how much better this OL can be from this impressive opener.
    But four other RBs, a host of receivers and DL displaying depth, and a very prepared staff will even make this team better!

  2. For all the folks who now love Hartman….good for you. You’re no longer dumb and blind.
    But until it changes, ND still has a fundamental problem: recruiting and developing blue-chip QB talent.

    Hartman wanted a high-profile program to showcase himself…and he picked ND, thank God.
    And if Hartman keeps this up, and the offensive scheme delivers results and impresses kids, maybe that will lead to better quality near-term recruiting success.
    But Hartman arrived here coached up, developed, and VERY experienced. As of today, ND doesn’t have a capable QB1 for next year, and it could go back to being just as empty a cupboard again as it’s been for a decade.

    Enjoy this season, whatever happens. With luck, it could be a great season.
    But it could also turn out to be a highwater mark for awhile.

  3. I just enjoy a post-victory Sunday when neither Rhonda nor Donna are peddling their tired mean girl shi+.
    A real delight.

  4. Lou Holtz once said something like “If your goal is to be good, you will be average, if your goal is to be excellent, you will be good, if your goal is to be perfect, you will be excellent: Don’t ever lower your goal.”

    So we need not make “perfect” the enemy of the excellent. In fact, practicing for perfection produces excellence, as we see once again, going back to Rockne (or maybe even to Jesse Harper…Rockne’s coach)!

    Which reminds me of a curiosity with Sam Hartman- he is 24? Well that’s about the same age as Rockne, when he first enrolled at the University of Notre Dame du Lac as a student athlete. The same is true for the Gipp, the best player Rockne ever coached! So our QB is in good (and rarified) company, and IMO, he played like it.

    PS: My wife and I got our tickets for Sept. 2 last week for $26 apiece…a good price in 2023 by any measure. But by noon today, they were startin at $56. The labor day weather will be low 90’s, really typical of a labor day home opener. Be there if you get the chance. This is my first game, and only vacation, since dialysis started in 2019. Though it is true that I’m about as poor as Bob Cratchet, I’ll apologize to NOBODY for going to this game. Come on guys; buy this thing out and join us, as a reward to the Coaching Staff and our team, if nothing else. You’ll be seeing a team the likes of which has rarely been seen here at least back to LOU’s best teams, or even back to the ARA Force teams of my boyhood.

    Rock the Stadium and maul the TIGERS- GO IRISH!

    BGC 77 82

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