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Navy attacks with small, quick O-line

Mike Gilloon | Friday, November 11, 2005

Notre Dame faced one of the most prolific scoring offenses in college football in its game against No. 1 Southern California on Oct. 15. But its most unique challenge this season might come Saturday against Navy.

The Midshipmen option offense has posed problems for opposing defenses this season. Navy is No. 2 in the nation in rushing with 282.6 yards per game. But Notre Dame’s rush defense is only surrendering 117.8 yards per contest this season.

Irish defensive tackles Derek Landri and Trevor Laws have helped the Irish hold opponents to 3.8 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Landri has 25 total tackles in 2005, including a sack and five tackles for loss. Laws has 21 tackles on the season, highlighted by a sack of USC quarterback Matt Leinart in the fourth quarter of a 34-31 Irish loss to the Trojans.

As anchors of the middle of the Notre Dame defensive line, the duo believes they will need their best efforts to stop Navy and quarterback Lamar Owens and an option offense rarely seen anymore in college football.

Backup Notre Dame defensive tackle Brian Beidatsch, who rotates with Laws and Landri, is confident in his teammates’ ability to contain the option.

“They’re definitely two talented guys,” Beidatsch said. “They’re very quick and strong for their size. I think both of their major attributes are their quickness and their ability to make a play.”

The duo both came to Notre Dame with lofty accolades out of high school.

Landri was listed as the No. 1 lineman on the Parade All America team as well as being named the California state player of the year in 2001 as a lineman at De La Salle High School.

Laws went 142-5 in his wrestling career at Apple Valley High School in Minnesota and was ranked No. 1 in the nation at heavyweight. He was also named a first-team football all-American by ESPN.com.

Beidatsch thinks Laws’ and Landri’s athletic backgrounds will be key when facing the small and quick Navy offensive lineman.

“They can play the run but at the same time they can be very dangerous in the passing game [by] get[ting] a sack,” Beidatsch said. “They are just a headache for offensive linemen.”

Landri certainly was a headache for Navy during last season’s win.

He recorded six tackles, including one sack, and also scooped up a fumble recovery while leading a Notre Dame defense that sacked Navy quarterbacks six times in a 27-9 Irish win at The Meadowlands.

Laws notched two tackles in the game last season, a matchup in which Navy crossed midfield only once during the first half. The Irish were able to hold star Navy running back Kyle Eckel to 102 yards on the ground.

Still, this is a different season and Notre Dame says it is prepared for a hungry Navy squad that needs only one more win to clinch a bowl berth, as well as to snap a 41-game winless streak against the Irish.

“It’s a new year, a new team,” Landri said. “Last year’s last year, but hopefully I can repeat what I did … and be consistent.”