Notre Dame Football Primer: The Navy Midshipmen

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 01: Chris Finke #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates his first quarter touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 1, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 01: Chris Finke #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates his first quarter touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 1, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Tonight’s matchup should be though – regardless of records – when Notre Dame football faces Navy in San Diego.

The Notre Dame football rivalry with Navy is rooted in history, tradition and respect. On Saturday, Navy has a chance to add to the rivalry by playing spoiler to Notre Dame’s dream season.

Opponent: Navy Midshipmen (2-5)
Last Week: Lost to Houston, 49-36
Location: SDCCU Stadium (San Diego, California)
Forecast: Clear skies, 70 degrees at kickoff. It’s friggin’ San Diego. C’mon.
Time/Channel: 8:00 on CBS

Top Storyline: Irish highs, Midshipmen Lows

Notre Dame comes in to this week as a season high 3rd ranked team. This is the final chance the Irish will have to impress the Playoff selection committee before the first rankings come out Tuesday.

Navy, on the other hand, is having its worst season in over 15 years. A loss tonight would hand Navy its sixth loss of the year and put their bowl hopes in serious jeopardy. The last time Navy wasn’t Bowl eligible was in 2011, but it’s possible Navy finishes with fewer than the five wins they had that season — something they haven’t done since 2002.

Note: the last two occasions where Navy was not eligible for bowl play, Notre Dame defeated the Midshipmen by a total score of 86-44.

Key Navy offensive player: Quarterback/Slotback Malcolm Perry

Perry isn’t a traditional quarterback, but no quarterback ever is in an option attack. Perry has only thrown 23 passes and completed eight of them. He’s actually second on the team in attempts — Garrett Lewis leads the way in that category — but that’s not where Perry’s true ability is showcased.

Perry leads Navy in rushing attempts, yards, yards per attempt (minimum
20 attempts) and is second in touchdowns.

At 5-9, 185 lbs, Perry is a great runner and phenomenal athlete. If his rushing abilities aren’t enough, watch for Perry to be a factor in the passing game — and not by throwing the ball. Perry has 15 career receptions with two touchdowns.

Finally, don’t be surprised if you see Perry returning kicks tonight. He hasn’t this year, but last season, he averaged over 24 yards per return on 13 returns.

Key Notre Dame offensive player: Wide Receiver Chris Finke

Navy is 101st in passing yards allowed — in the same neighborhood as Kansas and San Jose State. Not good.

Notre Dame will definitely look to exploit this, and one would think Navy knows this. Using that knowledge means Claypool and Boykin will be well covered, so I think Finke will be a huge beneficiary of this.

Finke currently sits second on the team in receiving yards but only has one touchdown. Finke should be have a 100-yard game as well as find the end zone at least once.

Key Navy defensive player: Linebacker Taylor Heflin

Heflin is tied for the team lead in tackles with 44 with fellow linebacker Hudson Sullivan. Heflin has four tackles for loss along with three sacks. In just seven games this year, the redshirt junior already has career highs in all three categories.

Key Notre Dame Defensive player: Linebacker Te’Von Coney

It feels like cheating to pick the best player on defense as the key player, but why not.

Facing Navy’s triple option, Notre Dame has to be stout on defense, and Te’Von Coney is just the man to lead the way.

Coney leads the team in tackles with 56 and 5.5 of those are for loss. He also has an interception and fumble recovery. Those instincts will be needed tonight up be middle for the Irish.

Coney had 10 tackles against Navy last year and helped the Irish beat the Midshipmen. Coney will lead the way for the linebacking crew to once again shut down the triple option.


A rivalry built on respect with history behind it consistently makes this one of the more anticipated games of the year.

Although the triple option is absolutely miserable to watch (prepare for for 17 play, 9 minute drives), the chess match between the teams certainly helps make it intriguing.

A combination of Notre Dame’s 30th ranked rush defense and Navy’s third ranked rush offense makes this even better. The triple option can do some strange things, even by teams that aren’t great (see: Georgia Southern vs Alabama in 2011).

This game will be separated by the quality of Notre Dame’s passing attack and (lack of) quality of Navy’s pass defense. At 101st, Navy’s defense should be ripped apart with relative ease.

Next. Notre Dame offense looks to get back on track vs. Navy. dark

The game may look rough at the beginning, but I see Notre Dame pulling away at the end and turning this game into a blowout.

Notre Dame 42, Navy 20