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Opponent preview: Navy

Aug 19, 2012, 3:54 PM EDT

Floyd Navy

The first of twelve opponent previews profiling Notre Dame’s 2012 opponents.

The Overview:

After living the good life as the scrappy band of underdogs that won games by doing the little things right, Ken Niumatalolo‘s Navy team fell back down to earth in 2011, losing seven games because of bad red zone play, a horrific kicking game, and making the type of mistakes earlier editions of the Midshipmen used to capitalize on themselves.

Losing five games by a total of 11 points forced Navy to go back to the basics this offseason, with Niumatalolo cracking the whip as he’s forced to replace almost half of the team’s returning lettermen and 12 starters. After one of the biggest drubbings in almost a quarter century, Navy will head to Dublin with revenge on their mind.

Last time against the Irish:

After a chaotic week filled after laying an egg against USC and some somewhat divisive radio comment made by Brian Kelly, many were worried the Irish were ready to fall apart. Those worries lasted less than two minutes, as the Irish rumbled down the field quickly and didn’t stop until they put up 56 points against the Midshipmen, backed by seven rushing touchdowns.

“They whipped our butts today,” Niumatalolo said. “That’s my fourteenth team playing Notre Dame and that’s the most full butt whipping.”

Michael Floyd had six catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Tommy Rees completed 16 of 22 passes, and Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood averaged six yards a carry and ran for five touchdowns before Notre Dame finally took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.

Degree of Difficulty:

Of the 12 games the Irish play this season, I rank Navy as the tenth toughest opponent on the schedule.

10. Navy

The Match-up:

After two option quarterback led the Navy offense, Trey Miller captains the ship, a more accomplished passer than his predecessors. Miller faced the Irish last season as an injury replacement, but will be more seasoned this year. Brandon Turner is back with the team after struggling to pass his conditioning test this fall, but fellow receiver Matt Aiken will likely miss the game after hyperextending his knee during a scrimmage. Gee Gee Green will be back in the backfield, but it’ll be Noah Copeland‘s job to replace Alexander Teich. The Midshipmen still need to solve a horrendous kicking game, missing nine kicks in twelve games last season.

On defense, the Middies will need to fill the shoes of defensive end Jabaree Tuani, who graduated after a sterling four year career. Not helping their case is that the line has also lost two other potential contributors, with Jamel Dobbs dismissed from the Academy and Josh Jones walking away from football. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green will rotate a lot of bodies along the line as he looks to find the right combination. Linebacker Matt Warrick will pace the Academy’s back seven, joined by senior safety Tra’ves Bush and sophomore Chris Ferguson. Converted safety Josh Tate also passed the Physical Readiness Test this week after failing earlier and should add some speed to the edge of the defense.

How the Irish will win:

It’s a pretty simple formula for the Irish, though the execution remains to be the wild card of the 2012 season. With Tommy Rees back home in South Bend, it’ll be up to Everett Golson or Andrew Hendrix to lead the Irish offense without turning the football over. The Irish have a sizable advantage along the lines, and with running options Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, George Atkinson, and Amir Carlisle, the ball doesn’t need to be in the air all that much, unless it’s heading toward All-American Tyler Eifert.

After a rough debut against Niumatalolo, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has done a nice job playing against option attacks, limiting points even if offenses have done a decent job racking up yardage. With Kapron Lewis-Moore, Stephon Tuitt, and Louis Nix along the line, Manti Te’o roaming sideline to sideline and the entire defense pretty familiar with the option attack, there’s little reason the Irish shouldn’t win in front of a likely pro-Notre Dame crowd in Dublin.

How the Irish will lose:

The recipe for disaster is fairly well known after last season. An offense that turns the ball over at inopportune times. A defense that gives up yards by the bunch against option opponents. And a secondary that’s had little experience, and will likely be susceptible against the one or two deep shots Navy takes down field.

Navy will do everything it can to limit Notre Dame’s possessions and milk the clock as it moves the ball down the field. With an entire preseason to add some wrinkles to its attack, Navy should try to catch the Irish defense unprepared. If the offense can’t get out of the gates quickly and Navy hangs around into the second half, this might be a nightmarish start to the season and an awfully long trip home to South Bend.

Gut Feeling:

Even with a first time starter at quarterback, there shouldn’t be much to worry about for the Irish. Notre Dame’s strength on both lines should make it difficult for Navy. The skill players the Irish have should overwhelm the Midshipmen’s defense. And after splitting the first two rounds, Brian Kelly and company should take another game from Niumatalolo and his undermanned squad. It’s a good first opponent for the Irish, who get some extra time to prep for the option, while also easing Golson (or Hendrix) into the mix.

  1. don74 - Aug 19, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Holy cow! Real game day stuff. Less than 2 weeks and it will be the Navy recap. The good news is the corners shouldn’t get too severe of a test and if the OL does what it’s supposed to the running backs should have a great day. The only real question is do I record or watch live at 6am? What’s the consensus of those of us out west.

    • irishbornraised - Aug 19, 2012 at 8:29 PM

      You think you have a conundrum? I’m in the pacific time zone, 3AM!

      • nudeman - Aug 19, 2012 at 10:01 PM

        Pacific Time Zone is 6 am dude

        • irishbornraised - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:34 AM

          Hawaii, not Cali

          • nudeman - Aug 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

            Then it’s not Pacific time zone

    • rico75 - Aug 19, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Gotta watch it live at 6 am! But, the DVR will be set up just in case…

    • nudeman - Aug 19, 2012 at 8:39 PM

      Any news on the uniforms?

      • don74 - Aug 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM

        I think they are going with the Oregon look. Practice jerseys with the stripes, helmets with the shamrocks, we’ve already seen the cleats, pants to be determined and throwback socks.

        Found a solution to the early game. Sat mornings are reserved for a long, early morning group ride. Will forego the ride, treadmill run and guiness at half time. 45-16 Irish

    • papadec - Aug 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM

      don – not thrilled about 6:00am, but making breakfast for my son, and any of his friends that crash at my place Friday night – here in the Seattle area.

    • islandsdomer - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:02 AM

      going to bed as early as possible. alarm will be set for 2:45AM for kickoff at 3AM HST. cant wait, GO IRISH!!!!

  2. mmcss690 - Aug 19, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Don, fortunately I live on the east coast so don’t have to worry about 6 am. But, even if I lived out west I couldn’t imagine not watching the game live! I have a feeling I will have trouble sleeping the night before anyway! Go Irish!! Beat Navy!!
    I spent 23 years in the Navy and many times dealt with the arrogance of middies, I don’t mind a 60 point romp!!

  3. ajw21 - Aug 19, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    The game starts at 8am here and I am ecstatic that I can watch ND play right away and don`t have to wait until 2pm or later so I will be watching the game live and not recording it.

  4. 9irish - Aug 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    How does Navy have a player that struggled passing the PRT? That is odd. I don’t know if it’s injury oriented or what. As far as game time… is in Ireland. So I’ll honor them by drinking early!

    • txirish2 - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:01 AM

      It’s more likely that they are failing the 1.5 mile run test because cardiovascular and muscular endurance system systems detrain rapidly if they’re not used. Even a 2 week layoff will result in substantial performance decreases. Strength adaptations, on the other hand, are lost much more slowly, with even 3 week layoffs showing no performance decrease at all.

      • 9irish - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:31 AM

        That could be. Also says why Navy is so much better lately. They have changed their priorities for football players…normally the standards for a Midshipmen were more important than those of a beefy football player.

  5. jackm1184 - Aug 19, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    West coast over here. I’ll be up bright and early and ready to go! Go Irish!

  6. dmac4real - Aug 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Does anybody know if NBC immediately posts the replays of the games or if they wait a few days? I gotta work in the morning that day. Probably wont be home till after the game is done. Being a poor college kid I dont have DVR but I obv need to watch the game..any suggestions?

    • 9irish - Aug 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM

      dmac…go buy yourself a good ol fashioned VCR (might take some work, but practically free..most ppl have two of them in the garage). You can tape for 6 hours! This DVR stuff is pretty spoiling, I will say that. Or just get the DVR box for a month and take it back.

    • bernhtp - Aug 19, 2012 at 9:41 PM

      Find a friend with a HiDef DVR and have him record it. Offer to come over later with some beer, maybe even some Guinness to commemorate the occasion.

      If you don’t have friends, find someone in the local Notre Dame club (they’re all over the place as a national university). Even if you’re not an alumnus, they’ll be someone to help you out.

      Have them agree not to tell you the result before you see it.

      • 9irish - Aug 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM

        bern, those are good ideas. but find someone who doesn’t know/care about football. If he came to my place to watch it, had they lost, I think my demeanor would be pretty obvious! Find someone that will ask how many home runs Notre Dame hit….

      • bernhtp - Aug 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM

        9: Get someone to watch it for the first time with you. Not too hard since lots of people like to sleep in on Saturday.

        If I were to take your suggestion – watch it with someone that doesn’t know/care about football – I would ensure it was a babe instead of an imbecile.

      • 9irish - Aug 20, 2012 at 3:57 AM

        bern….exactly! I’m sure he’ll figure something out. It is hard to avoid live information these days though. Hell, I remember when my dad would listen to probably 70% of the games on “westwood one radio network”!

    • papadec - Aug 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      dmac – call in sick!

  7. ndnut - Aug 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Can’t wait for all day football on Sep. 1 in SF, SD!
    0800 ND vs. Navy
    1300 AC vs. NSU
    After game, Dakota Bowl tailgating (mass if I make it in time?)
    2000 OGHS vs. SF Roosevelt HS

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      Augie vs. Northern State…you’d be better served to take a frickin NAP…and that high school game was an epic matchup…..TEN YEARS AGO!

  8. norcalirish - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    I literally haven’t thought about ND losing this game until now. And I’ll be there in person! Yikes.

    • gtizzo - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      ND is not going to loss this game here is the breakdown:

      1st quarter Expect ND to struggle a little throwing the ball early. The ground game carries them to the end zone twice. The defense is solid, but Navy manages a field goal. End of quarter score ND 17 Navy 3

      2nd quarter: ND gets the passing game going and starts to mix it up a little on offense. Navy does manage to hold the Irish to only 10 points, but doesn’t manage to put anymore points on the board. End of quarter score ND 27 Navy 3

      3rd quarter: ND puts Navy away as the offense really begins to roll. ND scores twice more. The ND special teams also scores on a punt return for a touchdown. Navy does manage to score a touchdown but it is of little comfort.
      End of quarter score ND 48 Navy 10

      4th quarter: ND plays the subs and gets some younger talent on the field. ND adds a field goal and Navy adds a touchdown. Final score ND 51 Navy 17.

      During College Football final Mark May comments that he was never as good a linemen as Zach Martin. Lou Holtz is about to come Golson to his mentor Tony Rice was Reece Davis breaks in. The NCAA has started an investigation against the University of Florida for recruiting violations under Urban Meyer. Meyer denies the allegations but states it was his “dream job” to work for the NCAA.

      • gtizzo - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        edit: compare Golson.

      • lightskin350 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        We are not good enough to look over any team. While I feel that the Irish should beat Navy by 40. This is their Super Bowl. This is their biggest rivalry game and If they go 1-11 and beat Notre Dame they would be celebrating.

        Notre Dame needs to put Navy in it’s place by the end of the 3rd quarter and rest all of it’s starters minus Golson because he needs all of the live reps he can get.

  9. nudeman - Aug 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    Any chance Tee gets enrolled and practiced up by then?

    • don74 - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      Only if your nephew Tommy makes the trip and takes the first snap!

      • nudeman - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        Then I guess no Tee

        I wonder if at some point, like maybe late next year, Tommy will become a forgotten but sympathetic figure in the eyes of Irish fans. By then hopefully Golson will have established himself as the guy, Kiel will be banging on the door, and Zaire will be knocking on it. Hendrix will be playing D.

        So when they’re creaming someone late in the season at home and Kelly trots out Tommy in the 4th quarter for one last hurrah … will there in fact be a hurrah? Or a collective groan?

      • don74 - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM


        TR already hit the jackpot and is in the bonus round. He came to ND as an after thought in the QB recruiting. Hendrix, Massa and Rees (I think Massa is part of that class). Montana was a preferred walk on and Crist was the next coming. Michigan happens and TR and NM don’t do well to the point where Kelly has to change reps for #2 to make sure he has a backup for DC. Tulsa, DC goes down, TR has success within a scheme laid out for him. (I still think the end zone throw interception was on him in that he could not throw the ball out of the end zone). Wins a bunch of games, elevates to starter and has ok results until he is asked to do more.

        The offense needed to evolve to Kelly’s full vision. TR is not the guy. Never was but in the beginning Kelly couldn’t run his offense because there were too many missing parts so it really didn’t matter.

        TR will be a key part of the team…leadership, respect of the coaches, team and overall good guy. He wants to be associated with CFB and perhaps coach sometime down the road. He is in a perfect place to fulfill his desires.

        He started for 1.5 seasons, he is a key backup, he is a leader and he is still learning.

        IMHO he gets to hold his head high. He provided a transistion for BK that would not have happened w/out him. As EG moves forward the stories are now surfacing about his lack of attention to the scheme last year and we all saw the struggles of AH.

        I think he gets mop up duty and will be a part of BK’s leadership council. I will also bet he doesn’t give up competing to be #1 and will get the most out of what he’s got.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      anybody know when fall camp starts? :)

      • nudeman - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        Not sure about fall camp. Might be going on right now.

        Also, there’s a rumor that the Irish have some new uniforms for the Shamrock series.
        If true, I bet they’re dynamite

  10. jimbasil - Aug 20, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Keith, you posted an article on stats that predicted ND’s loss to Navy. The article talked about Navy possessions counter to ND’s winning. Can you repost that article?

    • jimbasil - Aug 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Sorry, Keith; the article was a couple of years ago. Diaco’s first taste of Navy against the Irish.

  11. bernhtp - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Here’s the best article I’ve seen on Golson learning the science and earning trust.

  12. idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Try this schedule out….

    Twins vs. KC Royals Friday night
    Saturday – Watch ND at 8:00 am local
    Saturday – Tailgate @Kansas with South Dakota St. fans/watch Dayne Crist destroy my alma mater
    Sunday – Atlanta Falcons vs. KC Chiefs

    NOW THAT is a weekend.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Damn….can’t pull this off….Chiefs game is the following week. Guess I’ll have to catch that Michael Vick vs. Steve Deberg matchup some other time. Was really hoping to see Christian Okoye blow up Deion Sanders and the Falcons defense.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM

      Only downside is that you have to be in Kansas City.

  13. irisheyesnate - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    I’m in Michigan and was wondering is it 9:00am for me??

  14. ndnut - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    I go to OG, and SF still dominates football here, so any game between city opponents is an epic matchup. Catch a replay of last years Presidents Bowl and/or semifinal playoff game. AC C’s. NSU is probably a clunker, but it is football. And I’m not sure how good Augie is this year. If anything it gives me a benchmark for how good I can expect the team down the street from me will be. Besides, it’s only $5 for K-12 students, so I don’t lose much if it’s a bad game.

  15. ndnut - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Your weekend sounds pretty amazing, but I
    1. Couldn’t do it since I’m a minor and
    2. Couldn’t afford it (I do work study at OG).
    I will be jealous of you! Have a safe trip.

  16. ndnut - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    *AC vs. NSU

  17. loadofwash - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    ND Sucks

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