The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team will play host to the Naval Academy this Saturday, adding another notch in the belt of that longstanding series. Navy enters the game 4-0 and fresh off of a 33-11 victory over Air Force, while Notre Dame comes into the contest with a 4-1 record, having lost a wild 24-22 game at Clemson in a torrential downpour last weekend.
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The Irish look to get back on the right track after that disappointing showing, where they failed to score a touchdown until they put together a furious 4th quarter rally. Navy, on the other hand, hopes to pull off the upset over the 15th-ranked Fighting Irish and win just their 4th game against Notre Dame in the past 52 meetings between the two schools.
The Notre Dame offense struggled mightily against the Clemson defense, especially in the run game, which until then was considered its strength. Navy’s defense, through 4 games, is ranked 56th in the country in rushing yards allowed, so expect the Irish offensive line to exert their authority early on a much smaller Midshipmen defensive front. Senior RB C.J. Prosise and freshman RB Josh Adams will likely be able to get into the second level often, even with sophomore OG Quenton Nelson possibly out for the game with a sprained ankle. He will be a game time decision, and sophomore Alex Bars will start in his place if necessary.
Sophomore QB DeShone Kizer will try to continue his impressive, unflappable play while running the ND offense. He probably won’t have to carry the load on Saturday like he did against Clemson, but a few deep balls, especially to junior WR Will Fuller (who was finally shut down by a defense last week – kudos to Mackensie Alexander) are just what the doctor ordered to get the offense back into the groove of things before next week’s USC game.
The Notre Dame defense played okay against Clemson last weekend, but it was their flat and inept start to the game that led to the Tigers scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder cannot have been happy about that, and will certainly impress upon his players the necessity to get a jump on a team like Navy, who is third in the nation in rushing and can control time of possession and possibly win the game if they take an early lead.
Oct 3, 2015; Annapolis, MD, USA; Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) scrambles as Air Force Falcons linebacker Patrick Healy (41) applies pressure during the second quarter at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Navy’s star player is senior QB Keenan Reynolds, who has rushed for 488 yards and 9 touchdowns on the year. He and senior fullback Chris Swain (361 yards, 4 TD) are the Midshipmen’s go-to guys in their triple option rushing attack. Senior RB DeBrandon Sanders is another player the defense needs to key on, as he is averaging over 10 yards per carry this season and possesses the ability to break off a long run. Just as with the Georgia Tech game, expect the linebackers and secondary to be aggressive against the option, and for players like junior LB Jaylon Smith, senior S Elijah Shumate, and junior S Max Redfield to be making lots of tackles in pursuit of Reynolds and his fellow backs.
Notre Dame suffered a letdown last week against Clemson, and is most likely frustrated and hopefully very angry with themselves. Expect to see them take out that frustration and anger on the Midshipmen, with the offense putting up a lot of points (and turning the ball over a lot less) and the defense beginning the game in a much more passionate, crisp fashion. Navy could hang around for a bit because of the problems the triple option always causes, but since the Irish have shown this year they could shut down Georgia Tech’s option offense, look for the Irish to run away with this one and gain some positive momentum heading into a must-win game at home against USC next weekend.
|Editor Andrew Hall
|Notre Dame 41, Navy 24
|Editor Joshua Vowles
|Notre Dame 45, Navy 27
|Staff Writer Manny De Jesus
|Notre Dame 34, Navy 17
|Staff Writer Chase Eyrich
|Notre Dame 28, Navy 14
|Staff Writer Walt Kosin
|Notre Dame 38, Navy 24
|Staff Writer Pat Sullivan
|Notre Dame 48, Navy 20
|Staff Writer Nick Combs
|Notre Dame 42, Navy 21