The Notre Dame football team moved to 8-1 on the season with a 34-6 victory over the Navy Midshipmen, and here are the defensive grades from Saturday.
The Notre Dame football team put together a complete defensive performance against the Navy Midshipmen on a beautiful fall afternoon in South Bend, Indiana. The defense, despite early struggles from the offense, steadied the ship during the first half.
The Fighting Irish held the Midshipmen to their lowest output in the Brian Kelly era. The previous low, 10 points, occurred during Notre Dame’s undefeated 2012 season. The Irish rarely holds Navy under 20 points.
Prior to yesterday’s contests, the Midshipmen averaged 24.3 points per game against Brian Kelly-led squads. Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman deserves much, if not all, of the credit. He impressed the need for discipline against the triple-option attack.
His players bared this out on Saturday. The defense only yielded one big, undisciplined play the entire afternoon, a 32-yard reverse by Jayden Umbarger. The Fighting Irish held the Midshipmen to 184 total yards with 166 yards on the ground.
Very little will overlap from Navy to Virginia. The Cavaliers throw the ball approximately 47 times per contest. On Saturday, Navy attempt 5 total passes, 3 actual throws and 2 sacks. Therefore, the progress shown in the following grades may not show up in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame strengths were on display against the Midshipmen. Their weaknesses might be on view against Virginia in prime time.
Without further ado, here are the defensive grades for the Fighting Irish against the Naval Academy.
Notre Dame football: 2021 Week 10 offensive grades vs. Navy
No player is more important than another when playing against a triple-option team. Everyone must do their part. However, it starts upfront with the line. On Saturday, Mike Elston’s crew dominated upfront. Captain and nose guard Kurt Hinish tallied 10 total tackles with 1 sacks and 2 tackles for loss. Very rarely does a nose guard lead the team in tackles. Defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola finished 3rd on the Irish in stops with 4 tackles with a tackle for loss.
J.D. Bertrand finished 2nd on the team in tackles with 9 total stops. Bertrand cleaned up many of things that we missed by Hinish and Ademilola. Notre Dame’s defensive formation was a 5-2 formation. In many ways, it is a 3-4 with the outside linebackers walked up to the line of scrimmage. In a few circumstances, the outside linebackers left their responsibilities which allowed for modest Navy gains. Early in the 3rd quarter, for example, Jordan Botelho left his assignment and took the quarterback. This allowed a pitch and a first down run.
In many ways, the defensive backs, especially the cornerbacks, have the toughest task. They must remain vigilant while not always receiving much action. Against many triple-option squads, the defense gives up rare but significant passes. The Irish defensive backs prevented any fatal errors on the back end. The only error occurred when Houston Griffith was beaten on a vertical route and interfered with the receiver causing a penalty. Jack Kiser, normally a linebacker, played as one of the safeties, helped clean up anything that rarely managed to get through.