Notre Dame Football: Preview Navy Defense


Oct 25, 2014; Annapolis, MD, USA; San Jose State Spartans running back Tyler Ervin (7) runs during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy defeated San Jose State, 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Has the hangover ended? What even happened? How do I get this bittersweet-beer taste out of my mouth? There are a few answers and they end with victories. The Irish need to play championship level football throughout the five remaining games on the schedule; but without looking ahead and finally crawling from the depths of anxiety filled reflections, let us preview Navy’s defense.

A brief, recent-series-recap has the Midshipmen defense giving up 48 points per game over the past three contests. The three meetings prior, Navy’s defense held Notre Dame to just over 20 points per game and won two out of the three.

Heading the defensive front is Will Anthony, a 6-1 / 246 lb defensive end from Jacksonville, FL. Anthony comes from a perennial-power football program, Trinity Christian Academy. In 2013, he led the defensive line in tackles and leads the team this year with five TFLs and has 39 total tackles on the season. Navy will hope to build on a pass rush with only three sacks through eight games.

Breaking down the numbers, Navy gives up over 400 yards per game. 170 on ground and 240 through the air. The flip-side is the 350 yards Navy is rushing for per game game, good for second in the nation. Even with that rushing attack, Navy has not been able to dominate the time of possession. The team has won that battle in six of the eight games, but by a favorable margin averaging less than a minute longer per game.

More numbers lead to more non-distinction for the Midshipmen. The six interceptions rank tied for 71st in the nation and the unit has recovered only two of five forced fumbles.

Navy does not want their defense on the field, just as Notre Dame will want to get off the field stopping the option attack. Notre Dame should be able to score on big-strike plays, however I expect the Irish to try and wear down the defense with a punishing running game of their own.

It took a fourth down stop from Jaylon Smith to secure the win for the Irish in South Bend last season; just as this game is more about the Notre Dame’s preparation and execution off the bye-week. If the Irish defense does not step up, a tired and out-sized defense should help the Irish continue to score.