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The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Navy

Sep 2, 2012, 8:21 AM EDT

Notre Dame v Navy Getty Images

With Irish fans migrating back across the Atlantic to get home for Labor Day, it’s time to put a bow on Notre Dame’s dominating 50-10 victory over Navy. After starting the 2011 season in such calamitous fashion, the Irish left no shadow of doubt, scoring touchdowns on their first three offensive drives, the first time they did that since 2009’s home shutout against Nevada.

While it’s hard to be too upset about anything in a 40-point victory, let’s get the report card out and start grading.

THE GOOD

The rushing attack. The Irish averaged a gaudy 6.4 yards a carry, with Theo Riddick taking the lion’s share of the work while George Atkinson ran for 11 yards a touch, thanks to his 56 yard touchdown.

Cam McDaniel reminded Irish fans that he’s a pretty good player in his own right, chipping in 60 yards behind a reserve offensive line while Andrew Hendrix rumbled his way for 27 of his own.

There was nothing cute about the Irish’s offensive game plan, which beat Navy into submission and took advantage of the Irish’s sizeable advantages up front while showcasing a ton of talent.

The rushing defense. The Midshipmen averaged only 3.7 yards a carry yesterday, running for just 149 yards, a number that would’ve looked even uglier if it weren’t for Navy’s longest run from scrimmage coming on the game’s final play.

The Irish’s defensive front — with Kapron Lewis-Moore, Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and Kona Schwenke all playing solid football — made things easy with their dominating play.

The youth movement. It was a telling sign that when the game was officially out of hand, the Irish had veteran wide receivers John Goodman, Daniel Smith, and Robby Toma flanking junior quarterback Andrew Hendrix.

That’s not to say the Irish are ready to go to battle with the youthful group of Davaris Daniels, Davonte Neal, Chris Brown, and Justin Ferguson but it’s clear that the young skill talent that Kelly has brought to South Bend to upgrade the position group is quickly making it’s move.

There weren’t any breakthrough performances, though Daniels led the team with 49 receiving yards on two catches. Neal was a part of the game plan, getting a few touches while returning punts as well. Ferguson also made his first catch while Brown saw time as well.

Head coach Brian Kelly has said that he’ll use the young receivers in ways that they can best help the team, scheming around their inexperience or deficiencies. But with the running game going well, there was no reason to take it to Navy via the air.

Learning on the job. In a fairly amazing stat, the Irish played 47 different players in the first quarter alone, including 14 that were seeing the field for the first time. It appears any efficiency issues the Irish may have had getting plays in on time have been cleared up, as substitutions were moving fast and furiously and different packages and position groupings moved in and out at breakneck speed.

From the official participation report, here are the first-time players that saw the field:

Justin Ferguson, WR
Chris Brown, WR
Connor Cavalaris, DB
Davaris Daniels, WR
Davonte Neal, WR
Jalen Brown, CB
Elijah Shumate, CB
Nick Baratti, S
Ben Councell, OLB
Romeo Okwara, OLB
Jarrett Grace, ILB
Conor Hanratty, OL
Tony Springmann, DL
Nick Martin, OL
Matt Hegarty, OL
Ronnie Stanley, OL
Sheldon Day, DL

That officially takes the redshirt off Stanley, something Kelly had mentioned earlier in preseason that he didn’t want to do. Yet with Jordan Prestwood off the team and out of school, it was a sooner or later situation for Stanley, and that experience will be a great help.

Seventeen-year-old Romeo Okwara also saw the field, playing with the second-string defense at outside linebacker.

Quick Hits. Boy is it going to be fun watching Elijah Shumate play special teams. Guy is a missile. Same thing for Nick Baratti, who made a nice play and repped in at safety. Matthias Farley is going to be a player. Amazing to think at this time last year he was a wide receiver. He’s got a great physicality. That was a big stick by Zeke Motta. Thought Jalen Brown looked pretty smooth at corner. Linebacker Dan Fox played a really nice game, leading the Irish in tackles and looking really athletic out there.

Loved watching offensive line coach Harry Hiestand coach-up his second unit offensive line. With the starters standing behind the reserves, Hiestand was fiery and animated after the disastrous opening series ended in a three and out. The group rallied for a field goal and touchdown.

When your team beats Navy in the time of possession game, you know you’re doing something right.

Finally: Those helmets looked awesome. Not sure if they look as good on TV, but in person they are amazing. Thought the tweak to the pants made the Irish look a little retro and timeless. Great look.

(And Navy starting the game to Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone is the greatest thing ever.)

THE BAD

The Irish’s pass defense. Let’s just get it out of the way, the secondary didn’t have its best afternoon. Not having the ability to watch the game replay until I get back to my trusty DVR, it’s hard to tell how the coverages broke down, but seeing freshman cornerback KeiVarae Russell chasing five yards behind an open wide receiver isn’t a good thing.

But for those that are the doomsday types, playing defensive back against Navy is a daunting task, as you’re often on an island with little support. With the game plan designed to take away the run game, the Irish were fine with Navy trying to beat them by air. That it made the Irish’s young secondary look susceptible to big plays, so be it. There was a noticeable relief in the media room when Brian Kelly talked about the team looking forward to preparing for a more traditional opponent, which they’ll see when they face Purdue on Saturday.

Purdue threw the ball 47 times against Eastern Kentucky while averaging a modest 4.4 yards a carry in their blowout victory. Expect to see the ball in the air quite a bit next Saturday.

Notre Dame’s special teams. Not a great day for the third phase of the Irish, with Nick Tausch missing an extra point and then Ben Turk fumbling another snap. When they’re the difference between putting up 52 points and 50, it tends to be okay, but in the post-David Ruffer era, you’d want to see some more consistency.

Tausch wasn’t the only one who wanted a mulligan after snap-hooking their opening kick. Kyle Brindza rolled over his first kickoff for what looked like an accidental squib kick, drawing the ire of Brian Kelly.

Davonte Neal had a crisis averted when he quickly scooped up the punt that bounced into him, but you don’t want to see plays like that happen. New special teams coordinator Scott Booker has some work on his hands this week.

UGLY

The only thing that was ugly was the scoreboard after the Irish hung a 50 on the Midshipmen for the second straight year. But on a glorious day in Dublin, and a perfectly executed business trip by Notre Dame, there’s nothing to really complain about.

 

  1. kansasirish - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:35 PM

    Nude, I always scroll down till I see your comments……you get a lot of push back for your comments, but truth be told you give way more insight than half the clowns on this sight. Nothing against anybody else. As for the game it was great to see both lines dominate the game. We have a lot too be positive about next week will be a new test. Hopefully the DB’s will step up and make us proud, as this would be the one concern from this game. Peace out Nude!!

    • nudeman - Sep 3, 2012 at 12:08 AM

      Thank u sir
      Rock Chalk Jayhawk

      • kansasirish - Sep 3, 2012 at 12:25 AM

        No thumbs up? JK! I refer to them as South Bend west…..Same coaching staff different location. I wish the best for them, but I don’t believe Chuck is a good college coach.

  2. kansasirish - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Let’s hope this year our DB’s can turn around and look for the damn pigskin! We’ve held Denard in check with running game…. if we can take advantage of the wounded ducks he tosses around we’ll be good to go. Lets pray this night game has a happier ending than last year!!

    GO IRISH!!!!!!!

  3. ndirish86 - Sep 3, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    Even more than Golson locking in or being slow to release the pass – this INT was caused by Eifert failing to break to the ball while the defender did. In any sport, first to the ball wins. Eifert stood and watched while the CB cut in front. Not Golson’s fault. It may be that as a traditional TE, Eifert can do that on short throws, but with him being used as a WR and going downfield, can’t do that on longer throws.

    • madmick69 - Sep 4, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      Have to disagree, he did lock in on Eifert, however he missed Daniels on the post. If you watch it again he locks in on Eifert and the DB’s read that which leaves Daniels open in the end zone by himself…Daniels threw the hand up but Golson went elsewhere with the pass for the INT.

  4. fnc111 - Sep 3, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Can’t wait for this Saturday, will be in attendance for the purdue game.

  5. fnc111 - Sep 3, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    The anti Crist crowd is still hanging around it looks like. Still gotta bash him for no reason even after his team wins. Why do ND fans hate him so much?

    • Jennifer - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      True ND fans have nothing but respect for Dayne Crist. The others are impostors.

  6. fnc111 - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Yea Jen I should’ve put some in didn’t mean all.

    I have a feeling Tommy Turnover will be playing soon. Kelly for some reason is in love with him.

  7. foxburgh - Sep 4, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    By the end of the season, you will realize Pinket knew what he was saying!!!!!. NBS bowl. period

  8. dietskunkbears - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    any time we have twice as many rushing yards as navy, we’re doing good

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