Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) pitches the ball as Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Romeo Okwara (45) defends in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium.(Photo: Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports)
2013 Notre Dame Football
The Navy Midshipmen made Saturday’s game nearly excruciating to watch at times. Short of a miscommunication on a toss sweep late in the fourth quarter, Navy played a perfect game. Coach Niumatalolo’s triple option attack kept the Irish on their heels by sprinkling in nine perfectly timed pass attempts, yielding six completions and a touchdown.
It’d be easy to say the run defense was short of spectacular for the Irish, but to heavily criticize the Irish defense would also be to sell Navy’s offensive performance severely short. Drive after drive the Midshipmen, behind sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds, had their way with the Irish defense. At times there seemed to be confusion with quarterback and pitch assignments, but for the most part, you have to tip your hat to Navy.
The lack of discipline between the two teams was evident as Navy didn’t commit a single penalty throughout the game; the Irish committed 5. In addition to the penalties, Navy won the turnover battle, as Tommy Rees threw two interceptions (only one really his fault).
The most negative thing to come from Notre Dames gut wrenching win, is the injuries. Going into the game the Irish were already short Ishaq Williams and Louis Nix III, and as the game progressed, the Irish lost Sheldon Day (ankle), Kona Schwenke (replacing the already sidelined Louis Nix III) and Ben Councell (who is out for the year with an undisclosed knee injury according to Brian Kelly). The loss of Councell further depletes a wilting corps of linebackers for Bob Diaco’s defense; since the early retirement of Danny Spond, the Irish have lost Jarrett Grace to a broken leg in addition to the afore mentioned Councell.
While the defensive performance, penalties and turnovers are frustrating, they wouldn’t have been a big deal if Navy hadn’t played as well as they did. Rees’ interceptions, while inexcusable, certainly were not the worst he’s thrown. The real concern for the Irish is the injuries mentioned above. The silver lining is the placement of the second bye week before wrapping up the season with BYU and Stanford. Hopefully this will give the Irish training staff enough time to get some key players back on the field for two huge games to finish out the season.