We’ll spend some time later this afternoon taking a look at Irish training camp updates, but until then, a few notes about Notre Dame’s first opponent caught my eye. Here’s a quick rundown on where Navy stands, with less than three weeks until they kick off the season against the Irish in Dublin.
If Ken Niumatalolo‘s offseason was dedicated to fixing his kicking game, Navy’s preseason scrimmage Saturday showed there was still work to be done. After missing nine kicks in twelve games last season, the Midshipmen kickers got their chance to exorcise their demons during Saturday’s intrasquad session.
As Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner notes, they didn’t quite do it.
In a disturbing reminder of last year when kicking woes haunted Navy, five Mids candidates went 0-for-5 from 46 yards, 2-for-5 from 47 yards, 2-for-5 from 32 yards, and 5-for-5 from 27 yards.
Junior Stephen Picchini, who is listed No. 1 on the depth chart, made his two shorter tries, but was short from 47 yards and had the other blocked, booting it low. Freshman Austin Grebe (North Stafford) made his two short tries, but was wide on his two longer attempts.
Injury-riddled junior Brynmor Hughes made a 47-yard attempt, but clanged a 32-yard try off an upright. Freshman Nick Sloan made his 47-yard attempt with distance to spare, but was wide from 32 yards.
“They’ve been kicking a lot better at [practice], but that’s with nobody watching.” Niumatalolo quipped.
In more optimistic news for Navy, quarterback Trey Miller is showing an unusual strength in the passing game, completing 13 of 19 throws in Saturday’s scrimmage. But filed in the category of “one step forward, two steps back,” the Midshipmen are without their two starting wide receivers, with starter Brandon Turner failing the Naval Academy’s physical readiness test in July and ineligible to workout with the team until August 20th.
Making things worse is a knee injury suffered by Matt Aiken on an end-around during the scrimmage. Aiken, who was also expected to return punts for the Middies, is undergoing an MRI this afternoon that’ll determine the severity of the injury.
If the passing game of the Midshipmen is hindered, it’ll likely spell trouble for the Navy offense, with Miller nowhere near the option technician as previous quarterbacks Kriss Proctor and Ricky Dobbs. Miller completed only five of 13 throws last season against the Irish in Notre Dame’s 56-14 romp when he subbed in for an injured Kriss Proctor.