The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.


irish insider

Head to Head: Navy

| Friday, October 26, 2018

Observer Sports Staff | The Observer


Irish Passing 

Through four starts and backup duty beforehand, junior quarterback Ian Book has thrown for 1,151 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 75.2 percent of his passes. Pretty impressive stuff. The passing offense has been clicking under Chip Long.

Book and his plethora of weapons at wide receiver and tight end should find a good amount of success against the Midshipmen, who rank 101st in passing defense this season, having allowed 1,776 passing yards and 15 passing touchdowns through seven games. Notre Dame’s size advantage on the perimeter with senior Miles Boykin and junior Chase Claypool, in addition to the tight ends, will be a difficult matchup for the smaller Navy defenders to manage. The Irish should control the air.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Irish Rushing

With senior running back Dexter Williams back in the lineup, the Irish run game is a force to be reckoned with. Averaging 7.3 yards per carry through three games, Williams has established himself as the go-to guy to pound the ball down the middle. Those 7.3 average yards came against more formidable opponents, including an impressive 178 yards on 17 attempts against the No. 12-rated rushing defense — Virginia Tech. Navy has given up over five yards a carry this season and allowed 15 touchdowns to be run into the end zone. Expect Williams to have his way against this Midshipmen defense.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Irish Offensive Coaching 

Although the Midshipmen may be able to pull a few tricks out of their sleeves on offense, their defense has not proven a whole lot this year. Navy currently has a 24.7 defensive efficiency rating, which ranks 114th in the nation, and the Midshipmen have allowed over 30 points to Air Force, Hawaii, Houston and SMU. On top of that, Chip Long and his squad have proven they can compete with the best over the last few weeks, especially now that junior Ian Book has cemented himself as the leader of this offense. Having managed to overcome the defenses of Virginia Tech and Stanford, there is no reason the Irish can’t find a way around the Midshipmen’s defensive unit.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Irish Offensive Special Teams

While the Irish haven’t been stellar on special teams, with senior kicker Justin Yoon 9-of-12 on the year and senior return man Chris Finke averaging fewer than 10 yards per return, Navy isn’t anything to write home about either. Currently ranked outside the top-100 in both punt and kick return defense, the Midshipmen have done little to impress so far this season under special teams coordinator Danny O’Rourke, giving up two touchdowns and allowing Hawaii and Houston to average 20 and 17 yards on kickoff returns, respectively. Watch for this to be a potential area where the Irish could improve this week.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Midshipmen Passing

The Midshipmen have been out-passed in each of their appearances this season. Which is to expected with their triple option offense and a quarterback who is also their leading rusher in junior Malcolm Perry. However, their passing attack, when utilized, has been a weapon. Navy has given up two interceptions on the season. While they are only completing 43 percent of their passes, the catches the Midshipmen do make are for an average of over 16 yards. However, Notre Dame’s defense might have something to say about that — its defensive line will do its best to shut down the use of the pass altogether, and the secondary has been strong enough this season to limit any yardage gained after the reception.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Midshipmen Rushing 

As it usually goes with Navy, this will be the most important battle within the game. Navy’s ground game against Notre Dame’s defense. If Notre Dame can win first down and force Navy into uncomfortable passing situations, then the Irish will stand an excellent chance of stopping drives and getting the triple-option off the field.

That’s easier said than done. Navy is No. 3 in the country in rushing offense — generating 309 yards on the ground per game. The Midshipmen have totaled 24 rushing touchdowns this season, and receive production from many sources. Junior quarterback Malcolm Perry leads the offense with 729 yards to go along with seven touchdowns, senior quarterback Zach Abey has a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns and seemingly everyone else on the offense has chipped in on the ground. While Notre Dame ranks 30th in rushing defense this season, this is Navy’s bread and butter.

EDGE: Navy


Midshipmen Offensive Coaching 

Under veteran coach Ivan Jasper, the Midshipmen have built themselves a disciplined offensive scheme, earning just under four penalties per game, the second-lowest among teams with top-50 average points scored. Although they likely won’t make too many mistakes, their lack of offensive prowess will not be enough to overcome Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s lockdown unit that’s held opponents to fewer than five yards per play and an impressively low 14 total touchdowns.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Midshipmen Offensive Special Teams

As the Irish continue to improve communication on special teams, they might receive just the break they need in the Midshipmen, a team that’s yet to post any boast-worthy numbers. Navy’s 12.5 yards per kickoff return suggests that they don’t pose a major threat to get loose in the backfield. Although they’ve only missed one field goal this season, they’ve also only attempted seven. Like most everything Navy does, they make few mistakes, but also few impressive plays.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Tags: ,

About Observer Sports Staff

Contact Observer