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.