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The good, the bad, the ugly: Navy

Nov 8, 2009, 2:30 PM EST

It’s been about 24 hours, and the loss to Navy doesn’t feel any different. It’s a devastating blow to the Irish, and once again the buzzards are beginning to swirl. Still, in the aftermath of it all, people are forgetting that Notre Dame didn’t just lose a football game. Navy won it, and they won it with a superior game plan, great execution, and by playing good football. Hats off to Navy. They have quickly become a team that you simply want to avoid. The Midshipmen run a niche offense that is incredibly difficult to stop, have a disciplined team that doesn’t turn the ball over, and a win gets you little credit — you’re supposed to beat Navy.

This one is going to sting, but the Irish have no choice but to move forward, as a date with the eighth-ranked Pitt Panthers looms next weekend. Before we get there, let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly from yesterday’s game.

THE GOOD

It’s tough to blame Jimmy Clausen, Michael Floyd, or Golden Tate for this loss. The big three were amazing, and Clausen put up monster numbers and showed a lot of resolve in the late game rally. Michael Floyd didn’t show much rust, making 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown, and after a incredibly quiet first half, Tate ended up with 9 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. It’s amazing to think that it felt like the Navy defensive backs actually had good days when the offense picked up 452 yards in the air and put up 512 yards.

THE BAD

Where to start? Defensively, the Irish were a mess. They failed at every level, giving up big plays by the bundle to the fullback, a big play for a touchdown in the passing game, and repeatedly failed to get off the field on third downs. Offensively, the Irish were dismal in the red zone, entering the red zone six times and getting absolutely nothing four times. As a coaching staff, this has to be one of the worst days at the office Charlie Weis, Jon Tenuta, and Corwin Brown have ever had. As Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo mentioned after the game, schematically Navy dominated the Irish defense, with adjustments coming far too late from the coaching staff. Last season’s success against the option turned out to be a huge detriment to Notre Dame, as Navy knew Tenuta and Brown would use the same tactics to defend the option. Lastly, Nick Tausch has to feel pretty terrible today, knowing that his two missed field goals likely cost the Irish a chance at victory. Obviously, Tausch has been really solid this season, but yesterday he missed two easy kicks — pulling his first left and pushing his second one right, and even had a poor trajectory on a few extra point attempts as well. All in all, the bad far outweighed the good yesterday for the Irish, and the final score bangs that point home.

THE UGLY

The aftermath. As the comments from yesterday’s story show, this loss opened up a festering wound, and the fate of Charlie Weis as Notre Dame’s football coach is once again a relevant conversation topic. Losing to Navy twice in three years, after not having lost to them in generations sounds like a fireable offense, and many Notre Dame fans will go to their grave arguing that point. Yet this is a Navy team that pushed Ohio State to the brink, beat Wake Forest, hung tough against Pitt, and has a very good argument to be included in the top 25.

Still, this has to be one of the more disappointing games in Charlie Weis’ tenure as a head coach, and while Weis said all the right things yesterday, he had to be shell-shocked that his team just lost to Navy… again. There’s plenty of time to discuss, breakdown, analyze and second-guess this loss, but Notre Dame’s fate will be determined in the next three games. Beat Pitt and a lot of the questions will fade, beat UConn they’ll be down to whispers, beat Stanford and a 9-3 Irish team will be playing in the Gator Bowl.

Charlie Weis certainly didn’t do himself any favors yesterday, and he’ll likely have to make a very tough call this offseason on what to do with his defensive staff. Yet Weis said it himself, 9-3 just isn’t good enough. While I agree, I don’t think you get rid of one of the elite recruiters and offensive minds in college football because he lost to Navy. There will be rumors and wild speculation the next few days about the usual suspects coming to Notre Dame, but it’s all just noise. Weis and the Irish have the opportunity to silence all of that by winning next weekend. 

  1. Bdaddyx7 - Nov 9, 2009 at 8:45 PM

    Love the enthusiasm in the article… Too bad our boys didn’t have the same level of excitement coming into this game. Why don’t the FIGHTING IRISH fight? Because their coach gives the other team more credit than they deserve!! We clearly have the talent… PLEASE give us someone who can coach them!!
    We will NOT win the next 3 games… We don’t have the coaching staff for a 9-3 record in 2009… Just the way it is.

  2. irish fan, not charlie fan - Nov 10, 2009 at 12:48 AM

    Elite offensive mind? Are you kidding me? He may have a good offensive mind, but he’s not in the elite.
    Weis can’t be fired based on emotions. He must be fired based on his team’s performance, much like the head of any organization. Let’s face it, his team is not performing. I don’t care if you want to blame the players for their individual mistakes. In the end, the blame must be placed on Weis. If he stays for the remainder of his contract, expect to have a mediocre team that doesn’t play up to their talent level and who loses 4 games each year.

  3. AlBSure - Nov 10, 2009 at 1:51 AM

    Notre Dame is a dinosaur of a program and a has-been of a football school. Resting on its laurels, it has used the NBC money it earned before EVERYBODY was on TV to become a bloated, self-righteous, glorious-because-we-say-we-are institution. Only a school that always thought of itself as the “Harvard of the midwest” would be so hypocritical — filled with cash rich legacies and yes men. An example of the hypocrisy: because they did not fit the ND mold of “traditional” QBs, Tony Rice and Kevin McDougal were thought to be less-than-desirable prototypes of an Irish QB. Yet no one has been better at the position since they left. They were winners. The place was too good for Randy Moss! Even when Holtz was there and force fed winning to the midwest padres, they ran him off because his charges couldn’t make the cover of Boy’s Life as well as highlight reels. One thing the Irish have become really good at is UNDER utilizing talent (see Bryant Young, Bert Berry, Ryan Grant and Justin Tuck, to name a few). Hence, the admission standards are not hurting the team as much as the tired, homogeneous, and self-righteous standards of the place and its programs.

  4. AlBSure - Nov 10, 2009 at 2:02 AM

    Notre Dame is a dinosaur of a program and a has-been of a football school. Resting on its laurels, it has used the NBC money it earned before EVERYBODY was on TV to become a bloated, self-righteous, glorious-because-we-say-we-are institution. Only a school that always thought of itself as the “Harvard of the midwest” would be so hypocritical — filled with cash rich legacies and yes men. An example of the hypocrisy: because they did not fit the ND mold of “traditional” QBs, Tony Rice and Kevin McDougal were thought to be less-than-desirable prototypes of an Irish QB. Yet no one has been better at the position since they left. They were winners. The place was too good for Randy Moss! Even when Holtz was there and force fed winning to the midwest padres, they ran him off because his charges couldn’t make the cover of Boy’s Life as well as highlight reels. One thing the Irish have become really good at is UNDER utilizing talent (see Bryant Young, Bert Berry, Ryan Grant and Justin Tuck, to name a few). Hence, the admission standards are not hurting the team as much as the tired, homogeneous, and self-righteous standards of the place and its programs.

  5. AlBSure - Nov 10, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    Notre Dame is a dinosaur of a program and a has-been of a football school. Resting on its laurels, it has used the NBC money it earned before EVERYBODY was on TV to become a bloated, self-righteous, glorious-because-we-say-we-are institution. Only a school that always thought of itself as the “Harvard of the midwest” would be so hypocritical — filled with cash rich legacies and yes men. An example of the hypocrisy: because they did not fit the ND mold of “traditional” QBs, Tony Rice and Kevin McDougal were thought to be less-than-desirable prototypes of an Irish QB. Yet no one has been better at the position since they left. They were winners. The place was too good for Randy Moss! Even when Holtz was there and force fed winning to the midwest padres, they ran him off because his charges couldn’t make the cover of Boy’s Life as well as highlight reels. One thing the Irish have become really good at is UNDER utilizing talent (see Bryant Young, Bert Berry, Ryan Grant and Justin Tuck, to name a few). Hence, the admission standards are not hurting the team as much as the tired, homogeneous, and self-righteous standards of the place and its programs.

  6. Bdaddyx7 - Nov 10, 2009 at 2:46 AM

    AIB…. 3 words… Quinn and Clausen… Listen, I’m not ready to believe ND needs to change admission standards. And I certainly do not agree that we’re a “hypocritical, self-righteous, glorious-because-we-say-we-are institution”. Yes, it’s harder to get in to ND. Yes, it’s colder. Yes, the women dress a lot more modestly (mostly) than USC, LSU, Alabama, Florida and Texas chicks… (I do not think they’re better looking, Mr. Cowherd). BUT… We are still recruiting the top 10 classes in the country!! The issues lie solely in the lack of emotion and heart passed down from our current coaching staff to our players. There is NO reason the group of kids out there Saturday afternoon should have been out played… AT ALL! They didn’t come ready to kick the snot out of their apponent. They came with a reverent attitude for a group of kids that clearly deserve our respect for defending the country we all live in. But for those 3 hours they were the enemy.

  7. pwcclifton - Nov 10, 2009 at 9:35 AM

    I just read an article on NBC Sports Notre Dame Central and one section jumped out at me to show the lack of character that our head coach demonstrated. The following is a copy from the article.
    {After the game, Notre Dame nose guard Ian Williams said that Navy “out-schemed us and I think they just played harder.”
    That drew a response Sunday from Weis, who pointed out that safety Kyle McCarthy said after the game that Navy’s success had nothing to do with the scheme.
    “There’s a reason why one guy’s a captain and one guy’s not,” Weis said.}
    Are you kidding me! What a jerk kind of comment to make. Suggesting that because Ian Williams had the audacity to question the coaching skills of the almighty Charlie and his staff that he is somehow a lesser player. The University of Notre Dame deserves better and I’m not talking about wins and losses.

  8. Bob - Nov 10, 2009 at 10:55 AM

    Keep Weis! The rest of college football would appreciate it! Notre Dame has a top ten recruiting class every year, regardless of the coach. With the coaches they have, (have had the past 15 years)the rest of college football can beat them. If ND had a great coach, they would be un-beatable. Keep Weis!

  9. Jan - Nov 10, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    Right on…I had to catch myself from being offended when our team sang Navy’s alma mater at the end of the game, and calmed down enough to remember sportsmanship and the bigger picture. BUT, during the game – Navy is the enemy. They obviously see ND that way and act accordingly…for those 3 + hours. We should treat each opponent the same way. Kick the snot out of them.

  10. Bob - Nov 10, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    Keep Weis! The rest of college football would appreciate it! Notre Dame has a top ten recruiting class every year, regardless of the coach. With the coaches they have, (have had the past 15 years)the rest of college football can beat them. If ND had a great coach, they would be un-beatable. Keep Weis!

  11. ugetwutuask4 - Nov 10, 2009 at 7:05 PM

    I’ll end the GOOD, the BAD, the UGLY, like this:
    The good is ND has rich history, yes. Currently a good COACH who is proving that the EXPLOSIVE players ND needs at the SKILL positions to WIN in big time college football are WILLING to sit on ND’s side of the football “table” when ND meets on saturdays to discuss “BUSINESS” with the “BIG EIGHT” or any other team ND might face in a big time bowl game in the future. ND FORGETS that back when GOOD OL’ MR HOLTZ was around ND still had PROBLEMS with DEPTH on ND’s roster. Well maybe not depth but lets just say not as many future nfl players. Or at least you can say not as many as the CANES (CONVICTS), NOLES, GATORS, ETC. So, these teams have always been around. Even when ND was WINNING natn’l CHAMPIONSHIPS and facing teams such as the ‘CANES (CONVICTS) AND NOLES LOADED with plenty of NFL talent, which are teams compairable to toady’s GATORS and USC teams. ND knew back then ND couldn’t compare to the AMOUNT and SIZE of talent they had but ND WAS TOUGH ENOUGH to BEAT those teams on any given day ESPECIALLY at HOME. Don’t forget ND is merely trying to “eat” with them because on any given day EVERY team is BEATABLE, I’m sure any- and everyone would agree with that even if you live in VEGAS, L.A., DALLAS, MIAMI, ETC. ND may or may not EVER be a DYNASTY AGAIN but I’m sure EVERYONE would be happy with 1 ‘CHIP every 10 OR 20 YEARS as long as ND has waited! The DIFFERENCE is back then, HOLTZ was able to get in a players FACE and MOTIVATE the players to if nothing else DEFEND ND’s FIELD, ND’s TURF, ND’s HOME. ND needs that back. The number one IMPROVEMENT I can see to DEFEND ND’s “PLATE” ND’s “SEAT” at the “table” is, ND’s FRONTLINE. LOU had BIG, PHYSICAL, TOUGH, INTELLIGENT LINEMAN who were getting DRAFTED left and right by NFL teams. Saturday ND saw an O-line and D-line that was BEATEN BADLY for ND’s “SEAT” at the “TABLE”, something HOTLZ would never have allowed. I’m NOT saying it is or isn’t ND’s current coaches fault. But EVERY PLAYER at ND’s “TABLE” were recruited to defend ND’s TEAMMATES and ND’s UNIVERSITY. I never experienced college life but I did play football at a high level at MT.CARMEL in CHICAGO, IL., home of players such as McNABB, SIMEON RICE, CHRIS CALLOWAY just to name a few; and attended ND’s games in SOUTH BEND, IN. and at SOLDIER’S FIELD. I know that their is “TALENT” in the MIDWEST along with CAL, TX, FL, OH, ETC. Not as much but it’s their.
    The BAD is WHO can PROVE, or will PROVE, or has PROVEN that they can get ND back to that natn’l game? At least 1 more time if not ever again in ND’s LIFETIME. When it really MEANS something IE CHAMPIONSHIP. Because everyweek means SOMETHING to ND that’s nothing new. BUT like on saturday it meant EVERYTHING to NAVY and EVERYTHING to ND in terms of a BCS BID and ND did not show up to play ND’s part.
    The UGLY is ND’s CURRENT coach, THOUGH a great MAN albeit, has PROVEN with his RECORD when measuring W’S AND L’S when they count MOST, that he is INEFFECTIVE! How can ND get to the BIG one if ND can’t BEAT the little ONES for ND’s spot at the “TABLE”?
    FIGHT IRISH 4EVER!!!

  12. mrrandolph - Nov 14, 2009 at 11:29 AM

    There is a reason that we joined in on the Naval Academy Alma-Mater at the end of the game. There is a reason that Navy has the same uniforms that ND has. Go back to WWII when ND was an all-boys school and the students were either volunteering or being drafted into the armed forces. The Naval Academy being located in Annapolis being on the East coast and in jeopardy of attacks. Brought their mid-shipmen to South Bend to conduct their training and classes and out of gratitude for saving both institutions established in bond that will never be broken. Therefore, that is why we sing the alma mater and play this service academy every year.

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