Notre Dame defeated the Navy Midshipmen in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday morning, 50-10. It was a better season opener than last year’s loss to South Florida. There were many positives that were prevalent for Notre Dame in this game. Here are a few positives that stuck out to me:
Dominating the Line of Scrimmage
The Notre Dame Offensive Line and Defensive Line dominated Navy for 60 minutes yesterday. The starting Offensive Line of Martin, Watt, Cave, Golic and Lombard led the way to 293 yard rushing performance. More importantly, when Notre Dame needed yards, the Offensive Line picked them up. The Irish converted 7 out of 10 Third-Down-Conversions.
Likewise, on Defense, the line held the Midshipmen to 149 yards rushing. Twenty-five percent of the Naval Academy’s rushing came on the last two plays of the game. The starting Fullback Noah Copeland, one of the most important positions in the triple option Offense, was held to 29 yards rushing.
The turnover margin plagued Notre Dame last season, especially in the first two games against South Florida and Michigan. The Fighting Irish turned the tide against the Midshipmen forcing four turnovers and only turning the ball over one time.
Two of these turnovers were forced by Middle Linebacker Manti Te’o who prior to this game had not forced a turnover. First, Te’o recovered a Navy fumble. Then, Te’o intercepted a Trey Miller pass. If Te’o is becoming an impact player like he showed against the Naval Academy, the Fighting Irish Defense has a chance to be dominant.
Everett Golson Gains Experience
In his first game for the Fighting Irish, Everett Golson appeared cool and collected as he led the Offense on several scoring drives. Golson only made one mistake on the day. He threw late to the front pylon of the end zone and was intercepted by Parrish Gaines. This was his lone mistake on the day.
The play calls were very simple for Golson. Most of his throws were screens or play actions. These throws were simple reads. Despite, the fact that the Offense was not complex. Golson gained valuable experience and confidence that will carry into the next game.
A Stable of Running Backs
Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III proved that Notre Dame did not need Cierre Wood in this ball game. Running Back Theo Riddick ran for 107 yards on 19 carries with 2 touchdowns. Atkinson added 9 carries for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. The biggest question mark for Brian Kelly will be how to handle this situation when Cierre Wood returns to the lineup. An argument can be made for each Running Back as to why they should be the Starter. In addition to Wood, Riddick and Atkinson, McDaniel added 59 yards on the ground. It appears that any Running Back may find success behind the great Offensive Line that Notre Dame has this year.