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The good, the bad, the ugly: Navy

Nov 8, 2009, 2:30 PM EDT

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.


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.


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 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. Sam - Nov 8, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    Maybe Charlie Weis is one of the greatest offensive minds in college football, but Notre Dame isn’t making him one of the highest paid coaches to be a good offensive mind. This defense has gotten worse as each year has passed and Weis is not making the right decisions to get it fixed. Tenuta was a horrible hire and Corwin Brown needs to be fired as well. Charlie also makes too many gimmick play calls and it cost him the navy game. Notre Dame needs a real coach who understands the college game with a good defensive mind. The offense will take care of itself. An offensive coordinator is easy to find. If Charlie stays I’m done watching the Irish and it will only get worse.

  2. dan e - Nov 8, 2009 at 4:51 PM

    again keith, i question your statements with due respect.
    1/ justifing a teams (navy)stature to try and ease the pain for the irish really does’nt cut it.
    2/ you say beat pitt, then uconn, and then stanford and to the gatorbowl we go. the only possible way that happens is if weiss changes strips over night. rule that out, cause as per charlie in his postgame press conference “i never change how i do things”
    3/silence the critics with a win over pitt? the silence you refer to will be the joy from us fans for the team. one game would not alter my stance on weiss. hes the one whos put his back firmly against the wall and and has no escape

  3. mike ford - Nov 8, 2009 at 6:30 PM

    OK I’m officially over this Navy Loss. Time to move on and get ready for PITT this should be a great game and I can’t wait to watch my Coach Shut everyone up and knock the hell outta this Pitt Program!!
    GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m Praying for ya CHARLIE

  4. jim - Nov 8, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    NOTRE DAME, after losing to NAVY, I am afraid that they
    will also lose to PITT & possibly STANFORD. they could very
    well end up with a 7 & 5 record, NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP MR WEIS
    in South BEND! what an insult, losing to a team that got

  5. Jan - Nov 8, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    Mike..Thank You, I’m with your statement wholeheartedly…one addition – I’m praying that all players finish the season (including the Bowl – Gator?) injury free, and that each is inspired by the Holy Spirit to play every snap to the best of their ability and potential. We’ve all experienced a Job-like time in life where everything seems to be going against us…I suspect that the Irish players and staff must feel like that now. I pray that they have the inspiration and character to prevail.

  6. Charlie - Nov 8, 2009 at 8:22 PM

    Bottom line is that ND does not have the team speed especially on defense to play with the big boys. Unsure if they are hamstrung and speed needed just can’t get accepted by ND. But there is a reason Urban Meyer didn’t come to ND and I think it was because ultimately knew he couldn’t recruit the players he needed to win National Championships like he can in Florida. But there is no excuse to losing to NAVY!

  7. TLNDMA - Nov 8, 2009 at 9:09 PM

    Won’t beating PITT, which this team is very capable of, only point out how poor of a job they did against Navy. Keith, the point is not one player on Navy could (should) start for ND. Think about that. That is why ND won for 43 straight yrs. Now the’ve lost 2 out of 3, and 2 at home. The issue is not how talented this team is, but how poorly they are lead.

  8. Mike - Nov 8, 2009 at 9:23 PM

    I too feel that a new defensive coordinator is need, one who stresses tackling and pass rushing. A shame to have such a good offence,and a defense who gives it away.

  9. liamg19 - Nov 8, 2009 at 10:09 PM

    1. Why stop running Riddick when he looked like the best runner at ND in 10 years. One drive a legend doesn’t make, but he looked great and then…benched.
    2. Why not run the ball more vs. a team Temple destroyed on the ground last week? Yes, we’re behind, but how about running it in the redzone more?
    3. Why throw fade after fade inside the 5 when your OL outweighs the opposition by tons and when just one of our OL’s “recruiting ranking (stars)” outnumber the entire defensive front combined?
    4. Why stick with the “take what the defense gives you” approach on offense when we have the most accurate QB in ND history and two of the most explosive WR in ND history? I’ll take Floyd or Tate vs. two middies any day of the week and twice on Sunday (er-Saturday). NBC talking heads applauded Navy for adopting BC’s approach to D. Since when does BC and Navy’s defense dictate to ND what we do. Talk all the stats you want, but the O failed miserably in the most important stats (turnovers and points).
    5. The players may have cared at the end, but they certainly didn’t to start the game. My wife immediately said to me as ND ran out of the tunnel – “Is the game starting? They don’t look excited at all.”
    Charlie complained in his presser that ND job security is a week to week job. Wrong. He made it a week to week job with games like this. He’ll sink in his own claims and words — “schematic advantage” “9-3 isn’t good enough” “we’re gonna pound it” “let’s not talk, let’s show everyone how good we are” “we’re gonna be a tough, nasty, physical football team”. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. and Wrong.
    I admit that college fans are some of the nuttiest out there. Ask Bob Stoops or Jim Tressel who struggle with negativity in programs that have dominated in the last 10 years and who’s programs are miles from ND at this point. But enough is enough. Even if we win out and go to a Bowl, what makes ANYONE think we won’t see yesterday’s scene played out again next year? I’ve defended Charlie to everyone I know, but yesterday was it. Inexcusable.

  10. Scrappy Coco - Nov 8, 2009 at 10:30 PM

    I am a big time USC fan but I am also a college football fan. Even though I am enjoying ND’s fall from grace, I can’t really say that a bad ND team is good for USC.
    The one hire that probably won’t make ND fans initially excited but will pay off big time in the long run is Oregon State coach Riley. His teams play USC tough and he is the only Pac 10 coach to beat Pete Carroll more than once (something Weiss has been unable to do). He doesn’t have elite players but he does a great job of coaching up players. In addition, he has NFL experience and runs an NFL type of offense that won’t impact the current ND players. Like I said I am a big time USC fan but I would really like ND to be good so that our games against each other will impact the BCS.

  11. Len - Nov 8, 2009 at 10:31 PM

    N.D. will lose big in Pittsburgh next week and it will not be close.The reason is because they have no defense or running game.Charlie Weis is the worst coach since Jerry Faust.

  12. Dragon71 - Nov 8, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Notre Dame is bigger, stronger and faster at every position. Navy has superior coaching, the team is smarter and far more dedicated. Notre Dame will claim they learned something from this loss, but the adjustments they make will be the wrong ones because they are a big, bloated, stupid, excuse making, red tape producing bureaucracy. God Bless the Midshipmen, they are a great example for the rest of the country.

  13. Dragon71 - Nov 8, 2009 at 11:01 PM

    Notre Dame is bigger, stronger and faster at every position. Navy has superior coaching, the team is smarter and far more dedicated. Notre Dame will claim they learned something from this loss, but the adjustments they make will be the wrong ones because they are a big, bloated, stupid, excuse making, red tape producing bureaucracy. God Bless the Midshipmen, they are a great example for the rest of the country.

  14. terry - Nov 8, 2009 at 11:20 PM

    i still dont know why number 22 is still playing d, he cant cover but he makes up for it by not being able to tackle.. nd will be lucky to win another game this year.. the coaching is awful,they cant make real time adjustments.the d is horrible,, and that stoopid wildcat formation needs to go

  15. tj - Nov 9, 2009 at 12:41 AM

    CW’s answer to one of the questions at his post game presser should give an indication as to why the team was so uninspired Sat. I forget the question but his answer stands out. He says
    his approach to the week is always the same, win or lose. That’s the problem. He’s satisfied with losing. No emotion. That loss Saturday should have p****d him off. Instead, no emotion; no passion. It’s just a job, just like in the pro’s. Go back to Bill, CW. Yu were made for each other.

  16. hop - Nov 9, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    There is no chance Charlie will be back nor should he get another year. He will lose at least two more games before this year is out against Pitt and Stanford. Time to call Urban Meyer and find out how bad does he want to be a ND head coach

  17. willmose - Nov 9, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    9-3? What’s Charlie been smoking? But since ND is bowl eligible, I’m sure they will be a big draw at the Acme Pumbling Toliet Bowl, I put ND as 3 pont favorites over the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  18. keepcharlie - Nov 9, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    You can’t keep firing coaches every few years. The problem with Notre Dame is they don’t have the same calibur athletes on defense that you see at Alabama, LSU or Flordia. And unless they change their admission standards, it’s not going to change. So either change the admission standards and allow in some “undesirables” or be content with an decent but not great football program.

  19. Charlie - Nov 9, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    Sam, Dead on. I don’t care who they bring in too coach if they don’t loosen their admission standards they will never have the athletes to compete with the USC, Alabama, LSU, Texas and Florida’s over the world. I remember when Tom Osborne pretty much sold his soul to the devil and accepted the great athlete with the questionable background. It got him 3 National championships with many headaches!

  20. eric - Nov 9, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    that loss wasnt on weis to be honest. Jimmy needed to slide instead of taking on 2 defenders at the goal line. Parris needs to learn to hang on to the ball. Floyd, well a miscommunication was bound to happen eventually. Tausch makes either of those field goals and were not even having this discussion. Time and time again, the LB would go full on and hit the Qb instead of playing the outside man..which i think let them convert at least 4 or 5 3rd downs. So, blame who you want, but it certainly isnt ALL the coaches fault..I do think that a new D cordinator is not out of the question though…

  21. Robert92 - Nov 9, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    Charlie Weis has shown that he is not qualified to hold his current position. The Irish were outcoached, again, and the midshipmen simply wanted it more. I have said it before, these kids need and deserve a coach who can push them beyond their limitations and who will help them develop the confidence to play like champions game in and game out.
    Jimmy and Golden are both going to be gone after this year. After all, why stay when you know that CW is still going to be your coach and the only thing you can look forward to is more of the same sub-par coaching and bad decision making?

  22. gregizzo - Nov 9, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    Hey you want to play the “blame Charlie card” fine. But hand it to Navy they earned a win and let’s not forget they gave Ohio State all they could handle at the beginning of the year. You can blame Charlie for all the points the Irish left on the field but the defense was a mess. Keith Arnold is right give Navy credit this is a team that plays there game and you have to stop it and ND didn’t. And for those who wish to enter the “lower admission standards” debate that is an old arguement and has been around since Lou Holtz! Lets face it that isn’t a fix didn’t help Steve down in South Carolina did it! The SEC maybe the best football conference but let us not forget the 24 arrests Urban Meyer had on his football team this season!

  23. Ted - Nov 9, 2009 at 4:01 PM

    The numbers just aren’t there. He has a 35-24-ish record over 5 years, with 1 win over a ranked team. Now he can’t even beat the unranked teams.
    I have never seen a team look so lost and unprepared out there on defense.
    I also wish we can get away from calling Weis an “offensive genius.” How many times has he been shut out? The raw skill of some of these players (Tate against USC especially) is making him look good, but he still has some of the most boneheaded playcalling you’ll see on any given Saturday. Predictable playcalling in the redzone (the SAME fade route again and again), obvious 3rd and short calls.
    Yes the execution was poor this week, but some of you are acting like this is the only game that we have lost over the past 5 years. Weis has been consistently mediocre. We could just as easily be 2-7 as 9-0 this year.
    Weis needs to go. And we need a true college coach.

  24. TLNDMA - Nov 9, 2009 at 7:15 PM

    Liam, perfect.

  25. smokehouse - Nov 9, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    Penn State lost to Ohio State this weekend. So I guess to some of you that makes JoePa an idiot. LSU lost to Alabama so that makes Les Miles an idiot too. When you go looking for “class” on a comment board don’t come here. It is inhabited by a bunch of morons.

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