Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish Return from Bye to Face Navy

Notre Dame LB Drue Tranquill

After a close call against Pittsburgh and much needed bye-week, the Fighting Irish are back in action against the Navy Midshipmen. This edition of the Notre Dame Navy Rivalry will take place in San Diego, California. Notre Dame will be looking to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 2012. Another primetime matchup for the Irish will be no cakewalk, as they have lost 3 of the last 9 meetings against the Midshipmen.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: October 27th at 8:00 p.m. on CBS
  • Location: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, California
  • Matchup: Notre Dame is 75-13-1 all-time against the Navy Midshipmen (last meeting 2017: Notre Dame won 24-17)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -22.0

San Diego Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 0% chance of rain with a high of 77 degrees and a low of 63. Below is a look at the next 5 days leading up to the game (this will automatica

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Navy Details:

  • Conference: American Conference (West Division)
  • Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo
  • 2018 Record: 2-5
  • 2017 Record: 7-6

Navy Storylines:

Uncharacteristic Season for the Midshipmen. Yes, Navy is a service academy, but that has not stopped them from being ranked often during the Niumatalolo Era. Navy’s 2-5 record is undoubtedly an outlier for this program under Niumatalolo.

One thing is for certain, no matter the record, Navy will not be intimidated by Notre Dame. I fully expect Navy to give their “best game” of the season against the Irish. Purdue’s upset of Ohio State last weekend shows that anything is possible in college football.

Triple Option Attack. As he has each year, Ken Niumatalolo will face the Irish with his famed triple option attack. Last year, the Navy Offense was almost enough to upset Notre Dame in South Bend. Throughout this season the Midshipmen Offense has not been as dynamic as year’s past. However, the Irish will need to play disciplined football in order to stop the Navy Offense.

Navy Key Players. The Midshipmen are led by quarterback Garret Lewis who is 24 of 49 through the air (49%), with 346 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Surpassingly, Lewis attempted 13 passes against Houston last weekend, an extremely high number for a Navy team. On the ground Lewis has 68 carries for 244 yards and a 3.6 yards per carry average.

Ground Attack. The running game features Malcolm Perry, Nelson Smith, and Anthony Gargiulo. Perry leads the team with 127 carries for 729 yards, good enough for a 5.7 yards per carry average and 7 touchdowns. Smith has 57 attempts for 307 yards, 1 touchdown, and a 5.4 yards per carry average. While Anthony Gargiulo has 48 attempts on the ground for 176 yards.

Taylor Jackson is the only receiver with double digit receptions. Jackson has 11 receptions for 198 yards, an 18 yards per catch average, and a touchdown. It’s clear that he is Navy’s go to receiver when they decide to pass.

Notre Dame Storylines:

One game at a time. With only 5 games remaining on the schedule and no ranked opponents as of now, each week could be known as a “trap game”. Notre Dame will head to the West Coast twice, East Coast once, Northwestern, and have one final home game. Brian Kelly will have the more well-rounded team in every matchup, the challenge will be to focus the team for the final stretch of the season.

A well-deserved bye-week. For perhaps the first time all season, Notre Dame will have all their running backs healthy. Jafar Armstrong is scheduled to join Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr., and Avery Davis. Troy Pride Jr. looks to join the starting lineup as an injury kept him out against Pittsburgh. Even Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa could likely join the roster before the regular season is over.

Offense still has room for improvement. If it wasn’t for the Notre Dame Defense keeping the Irish in the game, Notre Dame would’ve likely lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers. Luckily the Notre Dame Offense got things figured out in the second half. The running game was disappointing to say the least against Pittsburgh. Yes, the Panthers were forcing Notre Dame to run, but the Irish still should have done better than 2.1 yards per carry. Even Dexter Williams was held to only 31 yards on 13 carries.

The passing game looked great again facing Pat Narduzzi’s Defense. Ian Book had an interception where a defender came off a different receiver and another where he was hit attempting to throw. Ian went 26 for 32 in the passing game with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also had 31 rushing yards. If 26 for 32 passing is a bad game for Book, that is a good sign for the rest of the season.

Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Navy Defense: The Irish will need to have a strong balance of running and throwing the ball in this matchup. The duo of Ian Book and Dexter Williams will lead Notre Dame on Offense. Notre Dame needs to make the most of every drive, because they typically don’t have that many positions against Navy. The Midshipmen will have their hands full all night, after giving up 49 points last week to Houston.

The Irish Offense has the advantage in this matchup.

Advantage Notre Dame

Navy Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Fighting Irish have one of the best defenses in the country. Even when the Irish Offense hasn’t showed up, the Notre Dame Defense has come to play. Alohi Gilman will be ready for the challenge of facing his former team. Notre Dame will need to be disciplined and prepared for this triple option attack. Navy’s triple option attack will be frustrating at times, but the Irish will be ready.

Advantage Notre Dame

Special Teams: Special Teams continues to hurt the Irish. Notre Dame has almost lost two games this season because of poor special teams play. A kickoff-return for Michigan and Pittsburgh almost propelled both teams into beating the Irish. Notre Dame doesn’t need to be perfect on special teams, the Irish just need to not make the big mistakes, which they haven’t been able to do.

Tyler Newsome and Justin Yoon have been terrific this season; the rest of the special teams needs to step up. Their counterparts are Bennett Moehring and Owen White. Moehring has attempted 7 field goals and made 6 this season.  White has averaged 41.2 yards per punt on the season.

The Irish have more talent on special teams but have lacked consistency. I give the advantage to Navy in this category.

Advantage Navy

My Prediction:

The Pittsburgh game was hopefully a wake-up call for the Irish. Just as all the media seemed to jump on the bandwagon after the Stanford and Virginia Tech wins, Notre Dame had a letdown game against the Panthers. Now the media is all over the Irish because they lost a close game; like every single other top-tier team has done with maybe the exception of Alabama.

The close call against Pittsburgh and rest from the bye-week should give the Irish fuel for this game and the remaining games. Looking at the matchup this weekend, Notre Dame seems to always struggle getting Navy off the field. Hopefully with a great defensive line, they will be able to like they did in 2012 when the Irish won 50-10.

Navy will hold the ball until a few seconds remain on the play clock every single time. Don’t expect Notre Dame to get that many drives, like the Pittsburgh game and Navy games every year. I still think Notre Dame can put up 34 points on the Navy Defense with such few possessions. The key will be to get Navy off the field early in each drive. I have the Irish winning by 17 points.

 Prediction: Notre Dame 34 Navy 17

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21 comments

  1. pete calco 10 months ago

    I agree Notredame needs to continue to not only win but get better and better every week especially on offense. Let’s face it guys in college football today if you want to win a national championship your going to have to average 40 points or more a game. You are not going to beat Alabama Oklahoma and Clemson scoring under 35 points against them no matter how good your defense is imo.I like Lee and believe Polian will get the special teams going . The thing I worry about is Notredames offense .When Kelly hired Long I was excited watching
    Memphis offense. Then Kelly said something that worries me.When asked if Long would implement the total Memphis offense he said no it has to be a 50 50 split between my offense and the Memphis offense. His rational was what if Long leaves in 2 years.Then we have to start over again.I don’t agree with this. Hire a great offensive mind and give him total control. I wish Brohm was Nd coordinator.

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  2. Doc Savage 10 months ago

    Nice write up Mike, you said it all.

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  3. Hank 10 months ago

    The Notre Dame football team doesn’t play in South Bend! Never has. Ever heard of Notre Dame, IN? If you haven’t you’re not paying attention and are kind of stupid.

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    1. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

      … when the cyclone starts from South Bend…
      … they formed the crest of the South Bend Cyclone….
      The South Bend Cyclone opened like a Zephyr.
      The South Bend Cyclone had now roared 85 yards…
      Even the all-star South Bend cast…

      Hank, so, Grantland Rice is kinda stupid?

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    2. Ron Burgundy 10 months ago

      How can we get this fixed Hank? This continues to be an outrage and I for one have a complaint, as two weeks ago I aimlessly drove around South Bend, IN and couldn’t find the stadium and missed the Pitt game. Had I known it was in Notre Dame, IN that would have made more sense.

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      1. C-Dog 10 months ago

        Don’t you mean rode around on your bicycle? You don’t have a license, Ron. They took that away some time ago. But good for you that they unbuckle the arms in the “jacket” long enough for you to troll.

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  4. Damian 10 months ago

    I take nothing for granted with the Irish anymore. On paper they should win handily. But reality is not always what you think these days.

    The main thing is to score TD’s of course. And if the defense can get 3 and outs to minimize the time of possession battle Navy likes to deploy. And stay disciplined. The Irish solved the triple option conundrum a few years ago. Just stay disciplined and stick to your guy and don’t lose sight of the ball. Our defense has done well so I’m not too concerned about the defense. I think they’ll do their part.

    Offense should be a no brainer in this one. Our offense should handle their defense pretty well, chop blocks aside. But we’ll see how that goes.

    ST’s. What to say about ST’s. They’ve been inconsistent. At times ok, at times a liability. This would be a good time to show some improvement.

    I think the Irish come away with a win. But as the season winds down and less and less of our opponents look strong the Irish need to put up some style points. Have too many more games like Pitt and I can see the playoff committee jumping a 1 loss team ahead of the Irish. Put another way, come end of the season if ND struggles in a couple more games, I could potentially see the committee jumping a 1 loss champion ahead of ND at the end of the year under the right circumstances. ND doesn’t need to dominate every remaining opponent. But they need to show dominance in at least some of those games. Navy would be one of those games.

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  5. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    No mention of Zach Abey yet he has been a lot to contain for the Irish last few years. And this year more balls his way because of Gilman connection. As Abey goes so go the Mids. Irish ditto as you MO. Should be exciting, Navy will be firing all their 16” guns.

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    1. Robert Rader 10 months ago

      Greg, that was certainly true in the past. Now, for some reason, Abey had fallen out of favor and he is not even listed on the Navy QB depth chart. He is now a wide receiver.

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      1. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

        Not on depth chart, but still listed as QB/WR. Better be ready for these Middies. Goliath should have worn a hard hat.

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  6. Robert Rader 10 months ago

    Michael, I think you meant “media is all over the Irish because they ALMOST lost a close game . . . ”

    Navy has not played “crap” teams. Memphis and Houston have high-powered offenses that compare favorably with the Irish.
    Hawaii, Temple and Air Force are respectable teams, and Air Force hammered Navy two weeks ago.

    Looking at Navy this year, it appears they don’t travel well to the West Coast (losses to Hawaii and Air Force). Maybe that will be a factor in the game against the Irish Saturday night.

    Houston had over 400 yards passing, though Navy still scored 36, which tells me Houston had quick scores on long passes (over 400 yards). Ditto with Hawaii’s defeat of Navy (with 6 passing TDs). I would have Book go deep early and often. Make the safeties play back and then hit them with the run game. Go for the jugular early and don’t let Navy get into that rhythm that beat the Irish in Jacksonville in 2016 (limiting the Irish to just 6 possessions the entire game!)

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    1. C-Dog 10 months ago

      Any comment like “The Irish need to start fast” seems obvious and of course could have the boneheads like Burghy dropping stupid trolling replies that frankly aren’t funny and never were.
      The fact is, the Irish haven’t started fast in the Navy game in recent memory and have seeemd to let them hang around. That shouldn’t happen this year. But kelly still has to prove he can coach against Navy. If he communicates a sense of urgency, this game should be a blow out. Please make ESPN yawn.

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    2. southside 10 months ago

      I agree Robert , the key is not letting Navy get into a rhythm–drives that consume time on the clock. If Irish offense are to put points on the board—they need to have the football. Navy sustains their time consuming, pesky, termite eating drives little by little. Irish need to call in the pest exterminators–that would be the Irish Defense. To stop this time consuming onslaught — they need to be eradicated immediately on 1st and 10. Do not let them get to 2nd and 5. They love 2nd and 5. Irish D need to get this triple option in 2nd and long. That’s when the fun starts –ultimately having “a McHale’s Navy” out there in total mayhem. Bottom line , Irish D need to put 3 and outs on these guys often –so Irish O can put up 35 plus points–which they can do –if they have the time to do it. I think of last season game —at home in South Bend where Notre Dame had only 17 minutes of playing time total in game. Navy was ahead in 3rd quarter 17 – 10. Irish came back with 2 TD’s. But Navy was knocking on door with 1 minute left on Irish 25 yd line to tie score. 4th and 5 , Navy went for a trick play. QB Zach Abey pitched a lateral to HB –who ran right–pulled up to throw–and a wide open WR was streaking towards end zone. But then , a senior DE playing on Senior Day made the play of his career. Alex Trumbetti , took off from his position from outside left–and did an Olympic sprint to the throwing halfback — he was in his face –which forced a wobbly short pass that fell to to earth. Game over. Irish came away with 24-17 win on a raining , cold night in late November.

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  7. C-Dog 10 months ago

    Anyone watching the Michigan love going around? Maybe good for the Irish since they beat the Wolverines.
    But amazing all this love when Harbaugh has been such a jerk about the MSU game. Michigan knew all week what the Spartans didn’t before the game and originally agreed to vacate the field. It’s obvious that Harbaugh changed his mind and refused without telling anyone. He totally wanted that confrontation.
    I can’t stand the PSU pedophiles. But I hope they beat Michigan. And if not then I hope the Wife Beaters in Columbus beat Harbaugh. The guy is a real jerk.

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    1. Damian 10 months ago

      Yeah, Michigan and Miami are my two most hated teams in CFB. Michigan got their perfect guy in Harbaugh. He’s as arrogant as their fans. I can’t root for them no matter how much it helps our SOS. I’ve taken particular glee that they’ve been mostly mediocre since the RichRod experiment.

      I have a friend that’s a Ohio State alum. I told her if she really wants to get under a Michigan fan’s skin tell them that she’s more worried about Michigan State then Michigan these days. They’d probably melt right in front of her.

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  8. C-Dog 10 months ago

    Offense needs to come out hot and stay hot. The fast start will help

    The defense needs to disrupt the 1st Down. Disco figured out the triple option once. The Irish have the personnel. Run a 4-4 Defense.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 10 months ago

      Personally I prefer the 2-1-3-4-1 defense to stopping the triple option.

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      1. C-Dog 10 months ago

        And that’s about the extent of your relevance. What a dork you are.

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      2. Doc Savage 10 months ago

        Wow! I’d love to see the overhead on that one…..rofl

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  9. ChrisJ 10 months ago

    Here are how many points each team has put up against Navy this year:

    Hawaii – 59 (how is there even enough time to put up this many points against a triple option team)
    Memphis – 21
    SMU – 31
    Lehigh – 21
    Air Force – 35
    Temple – 24
    Houston – 49

    That’s an average of 34 points a game from, let’s be honest, crap teams. If ND doesn’t put up at least 34, there is a serious problem. It always seems like Navy is that big brother/little brother kind of game where we have “respect” for them so we don’t play with authority. Navy always seems to take this game very seriously and come out fired up and on top of that, they play dirty as hell with those chop blocks all over the place. It would just be nice to see us obliterate this team like we did in 2012 and not let up until we have a comfortable lead of 30 points to show our “respect”. It would be nice to see Wimbush and Jurkovec play the majority of the 2nd half and get some meaningful work in.

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    1. Fitz 10 months ago

      Chris is spot on….if the six teams put up an average of 34 against Navy it would be a major disappointment in ND only posted that number. It’s always befuddled me that many other teams can stop the triple option but ND with much better talent almost always had a problem. I think this is new year because of better athletes at every position on defense that ND finally stops the triple option.

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