Nov 2, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Navy Midshipmen wide receiver Shawn Lynch (87) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) and cornerback Bennett Jackson (2) in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 38-34. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Notre Dame Football
The Fighting Irish were a 21-point favorite over the Midshipmen but ended up only pulling out 38-34 win. There were not many positives to come out of game where the Fighting Irish lost Ben Councell, Kona Schwenke and Sheldon Day to injury. However, here are some things for the “glass half full” fans out there:
Notre Dame’s Third Team Defense
Staff Writer Tim Colin noted the injuries as a negatives from the Navy-Notre Dame game on Saturday. Although Notre Dame’s defense is currently a M.A.S.H. unit, there is another side to this argument. The Fighting Irish pride themselves on “Next Man In”. This season has really put that idea to the test. Notre Dame has come through so far with Justin Utupo, Tyler Stockton, Joe Schmidt and others have helped Notre Dame to consecutive wins. On the final drive, the Irish were playing without 6 players who would have started and 4 who would have contributed when they opened fall camp in August. Notre Dame has shown that they are a deeper team than many would have expected. Brian Kelly and his staff coach up their players just as well as anyone in the country.
Irish Find A Running Game
Notre Dame ran for more than 200 yards for only the second time this season. In 2012, the Irish had already ran the ball for over 200 yards 5 times. More importantly, Notre Dame likely found their Running Back of the future. If fans were told prior to the season that a Freshman Running Back would run for 100 or more yards, they probably would have agreed. But, 95% of fans would have said that it would have been 5-star recruit Greg Bryant. Tarean Folston showed everyone why he was heavily recruited as well. Folston is extremely smooth, natural and quick in the hole. He should get the majority of the carries the rest of the season. But, Brian Kelly and the staff seem obsessed with using several Running Backs and not allowing anyone to get into the grove of the game.
Irish Have Devastating Speed At Certain Positions
When FSU and Alabama take the field, it seems like everyone on the field runs a 4.4. When Notre Dame takes the field, it feels like Notre Dame’s players are so slow that they seem to be moving in slow motion. But consider the final play against the Navy Offense. Navy Wide Receiver Shawn Lynch had a clear path to a first down and more. But, Eliar Hardy and Jaylon Smith closed so quickly to shut down the play. Part of speed is just being fast. Another part of it is playing fast by knowing where to be. That play was a combination of both. Notre Dame is becoming more athletic. It will be interesting to see where this defense is in a few years.