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. However, there are many negatives that can be improved on. Here are a few negatives that stuck out to me:
Freshman Cornerback KeiVarae Russell played an inconsistent game Saturday against the Navy Midshipmen. He recorded 5 tackles, 3 solo and 2 assisted. Most notably, Russell was beat by Shawn Lynch in the 3rd Quarter. Navy, a triple option team, does not typically throw the ball. Quarterback Trey Miller made Russell look terrible on that play. There could be a reason for that. Russell and the rest of the secondary may have been playing the run. That would explain why Russell was beaten badly on the touchdown. Slaughter was also beaten on that play. Purdue will definitely test the Defensive Backs more than Navy. Therefore, we will know if this was just a strategic issue or a personnel problem.
Russell was not the only player who did not play up to his potential on Saturday. As pointed out on the Podcast, Senior Safety Zeke Motta sometimes struggled to turn the play to the inside. It is concerning that a veteran Safety cannot make a simple play. However, Motta did make a solid play when he came down on the run and crushed the ball carrier.
Ben Koyack’s Drops
This is definitely knit-picking Notre Dame’s performance. But if Notre Dame’s offense is going to be dominant this season, Koyack needs to step up his performance. He dropped two of the three passes that were thrown to him. Later, he hauled in a 23-yard reception. Nothing kills drives more than dropped passes. With Everett Golson at Quarterback, these types of performances cannot be tolerated in the future. It could hurt his confidence.
Missed Extra Points
As the season goes on, the kicking game could be critical for Notre Dame. It is something that has been taken for granted the past few years with David Ruffer. On Saturday, the Fighting Irish missed two extra points. First, Tausch pushed an point after attempt. Then, Turk fumbled the snap. Collectively, Notre Dame failed in the kicking game. In the future, this could cost Notre Dame a game. Like the point above, this is knit-picking. However, great teams do not have these issues. If Notre Dame wants to be great, they will fix these issues.
Brian Kelly’s Quarterback Coaching
Everett Golson needed more experience Saturday but Brian Kelly gave the playing time to Andrew Hendrix late in the game. Was Kelly worried about an injury? Did Kelly want to warm Hendrix up? Golson had done nothing to be removed. Kelly should have tried to season him as much as possible before the next game. Notre Dame will need Golson to be successful this season. He needs as many game reps as possible.