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Preparation for Navy option already under way

Oct 18, 2010, 8:30 AM EDT

After 43 consecutive victories over Navy, the Midshipmen have having beaten Notre Dame two of the last three times they’ve played. With an option offense piloted by Ricky Dobbs, one of the best option quarterbacks to play in the last two decades, preparation for Navy’s option attack is already well underway.

“This will be our fifth week now, that we have been running Navy’s offense with our scout team,” Kelly said Sunday. “We feel like we’ve been preparing for this offense for the last month.

“When you’re playing both Navy and Army in your schedule, you can’t just
take two days and practice against this offense. This was a decision we
made last spring, preparing for both of those teams with our ‘look’
squads. It’s only about 15 to 20 minutes each day.”

This is one of the better decisions that Kelly’s likely made, as the Irish defense’s inability to stop the option run game has been the biggest reason why the Midshipmen have flipped the script on this series.

Looking back at the past three games, Navy ran for 257 yards against the Irish in 2007, 178 yards during the Irish’s tense 27-21 victory in 2008, and a staggering 348 yards in the stunning 23-21 upset win over Notre Dame last year, a game where Ricky Dobbs only threw the ball three times.

Another key stat in this three game run: Navy has won the turnover margin by a staggering +7 in those three ball games, with the Irish turning the ball over nine times and the Midshipmen only turning it over twice.

Kelly’s staff is shy on experience against option teams, with Kelly only beating Army 14-10 back in 2005.

“I played Army when I was at Central Michigan, but they were not a
triple option team as they are,” Kelly said. “For me, it was a long time ago, going
against teams that ran the triple. Coach
Diaco is very familiar with it. That’s why we’ve prepared for it during
the year. Our offense can’t even given them that look because of way
offensive linemen play.”

We’ll get into it more this week, but it shouldn’t be hard for the Irish to be motivated to play a Navy team that has gotten far more respect than its given back when these two teams have faced off the last few years.

  1. TLNMA - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Stop the fullback, Hit the quarterback every play.

  2. terry - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    I have conflicting loyalties on this. I went to ND, flunked out and spent 3+ years in the Navy.
    TLNMA – sound advice.
    Here’s a good one – may the best team win.

  3. Ted - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Knowing Kelly’s meticulous attention to detail and focus on preparation, I have no doubt that he’ll have the Irish ready for this one. Plus, after the last three years there is ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE that any of the players are looking past the Middies.
    (That, I think was the problem in the first half this week. The 80 yard TD on the first play was probably the worst thing that could have happened. After that it looked like a lot of the guys decided it was going to be easy and mentally they took the rest of the first half off.)
    While Navy is a good team which runs a disciplined offense, they shouldn’t be able to stay with the Irish for 4 quarters. If the Irish play focused and disciplined football and avoid silly turnovers, they should win by a couple of scores.

  4. DR Coppinger - Oct 18, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    ND’s defense gave up 20 points, too many, now in the NCAA, that can
    beat a team. Better be glad the offense was clicking or was Western
    Michigan’s defense, just that bad. Bad choice to put on a schedule,
    for an organization that is trying to get back into the National title race. But I guess everyone else does it. I’m so dismayed with
    this team. Sick to my stomach. If Kelly uses one more “F” word on the sidelines to Chris and other players, I’m finished with him and
    ND. I think the AD, needs to tone him down a notch or to. He’s offensive coordinator is the one that calls the plays, curse him out, instead of the kids, they don’t derserve that. I was one of the people that was totally against hiring Kelly, still am. There’s
    no way he can bring this team up to ND standards. 1988 is a long way back. I don’t see us getting a championship under his leadership at all. Like I always say, two men and a truck, after four years, if he stays that long.

  5. NAC - Oct 18, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    DR Coppinger, do you realize every coach in D1 football curses at their players. I play a division 3 sport, which isnt anywhere near Notre Dame football, and get yelled at. it is something to expect when you play a competitive sport in college. He is tough on his players and his players respect him for that

  6. Rabid Irish Fan - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Hey DR, are you F’ing kidding me? You have no clue as to what you are talking about. The players get yelled at because they dont EXECUTE the play that was called in. These players have been treated like babies for too long, Davie, Willingham and Weis all did it and FAILED! The last coach who cursed the players, grabbed them by the facemask and ripped thier butts for poor play was Lou Holtz so dont talk about 1988 when the Holtz and Kelly both coach the same way. Like NAC said, thats how it is. Dont like it? Dont watch Irish Football. If it gets these kids to “Play Like a Champion” im all for it.

  7. BryanW - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    Kelly is going to use the F word again this season. Please be finished with ND so we don’t ever have to read a comment like that again.

  8. BryanW - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Western Michigan ran one option play on Saturday that gave me a lot of hope for stopping Navy. I don’t remember the specific players involved, but the defense recognized the play and the defender with the QB responsibility (OLB) came up to the line of scrimmage and then stopped in front of the QB. That delayed the pitch/run decision enough to allow the defender with RB responsibility (CB) to get into position. The result of the play was a loss of one or two yards. I think one of the major problems the last few years has been an attempt by the defense to get to the QB behind the line of scrimmage. This allowed him to beat the overpursuit or pitch the ball to the back before the defense was in position.
    Bob Davie (I hate to say it) was one of the defensive minds that helped kill the triple option as the offense of choice in college football. He taught his defenses to run laterally along the line of scrimmage toward the option side to shrink the field and force the quarterback to make his run/pitch decision as late and as close to the sideline as possible.
    After seeing that play, I wasn’t surprised to read that the Irish have been working on the option defense throughout the year. That was the patient, disciplined style we need to play to control Dobbs and that offense.

  9. MikeM - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    Hey DR maybe you should watch the games a little more…if you did you wouldn’t of made the comment that Kelly should yell at his offensive coordinator for calling the plays. Kelly calls all his own plays from the sideline. With fans like you it’s no wonder our teams never get any support!

  10. Irish Lifer - Oct 18, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Although I’m an Irish Lifer, I’ve lived in Annapolis for 10 years and attended several Navy football games. As confident as I am that the Irish will prevail this weekend, it’s going to be a hard fought game for at least 60 minutes. That’s the way Navy plays, as do all the Service academies. Anyone who thinks that Navy won’t be able to stay with the Irish for four quarters is seriously underestimating the willpower of the academy athletes. This year’s Navy squad doesn’t appear to be quite as strong as teams of the past 2 or 3 years, but Dobbs (the QB) has been hobbled by nagging injuries and is just now beginning to look like the Dobbs of last year – the one who was touted as a Heisman candidate during the pre-season.

  11. sharkey - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    I agree with you totally. Navy is one of the most underrated teams out there. This won’t be a walk in the park for the Irish. Unless Crist all of a sudden finds his accuracy, that is.

  12. ndnaz - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:54 PM

    TLMNA is right abour Navy. Stop the fullback, hit the QB on every play. I might add, for once, defense, play the game on THEIR side of the line. Manti should just cue on the QB, ala the MSU middle linebackers in the Tony Rice days, and smack his freakin’ head off.
    Everybody else, lay off B-K. After the Weis years of sucking up to the pampered, arrogant NFL wannabees, BK is a needed reality check.
    I still have some doubts. But only about the current personnel, not the direction of the program.

  13. Irish Fan - Oct 19, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    We should kill Navy.
    We have superior athletes and coaches.
    I am not sure what the line is, but if we win by less than 3 touchdowns, I will be disappointed.
    There is, obviously, the possbility that God will make the Irish lose as penance for the pedophile priest sexual abuse scandal, the Crusads, or the inquisition.
    Saving that, the Irish should win going away.
    Go Irish!

  14. glasshalfempty - Oct 19, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    This game scares me as much as any left on the schedule. Even though the run defense is greatly improved, our defense still spends much too much time in “break don’t bend” mode. This means longer possessions for Navy’s offense and fewer possessions for our Offense. Again that places a premium on consistent offensive execution…which hasn’t been our strong point. I could see this turning into another 24-21 nailbiter. Here’s hoping for three early stops by the Irish D, three quick TD’s by the O and we slowly pull away from a 21-0 lead….

  15. glashalfempty - Oct 19, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    that’s “bend don’t break mode”…

  16. TersigniND - Oct 19, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    What makes me nervous is all the injuries piling up, with Theo out for awhile (might need surgery!!) and Floyd a game time decision.
    Slaughter will play but he is far from 100%.
    Sounds like Martin will go back to LT and Dever will compete with Romine at RT.

  17. Justin - Oct 19, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Dr. Soft,
    The last few years Notre Dame has had coaches who did not get get on the players when they messed up. How did that work for us? If you want Notre Dame to stay at the mediocre level they have been in the last decade then hire another pansy coach.
    I have no problem with Kelly yelling at players for the fact that when a player does well B.K. is right there patting him on the back saying “Good Job”
    He sets the standards high for the players and if the players do not perform at that high level B.K. is not afraid to let them know.
    The fighting Irish should be able to come out and dominate the Midshipmen this weekend.

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