Staff Predictions: Navy
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 15, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
If it isn’t Pitt then it must be Navy! I hesitate to call this a trap game considering the fact that we’re dealing with a two-loss Notre Dame, but with the possibility of making it to a New Year’s Six Bowl on the line, this absolutely earns the honor of being a trap game. The Midshipmen are gritty, relentless and with the exception of possibly Georgia Tech, can be credited with having perfected the triple option. Oh, and did I mention they’re 7-1, with their lone loss coming from a Houston team that is far better than their record indicates?
But still, surely Notre Dame can handle things at home. Chris Finke finally showed up last week and reminded us why he’s earned the nickname Slippery Fox. Ian Book seemed to settle in on the road, and the defense nearly posted a shutout. I’ll forever be wary of Navy, and I don’t expect them to be rattled by the cold temperatures overtaking South Bend this week. But I still think the Irish find a way to take care of business. It may not be pretty — in fact, it will not be pretty. That’s just the nature of the triple option. But it’ll get done.
FINAL: Notre Dame 30, Navy 28
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
I’ll admit I took my pessimism and disappointment in this team a bit too far last weekend. But still, we can all agree that win over Duke just showed us that Duke is a bad football team, not that Notre Dame is a good one, right? OK, good.
We all know the narratives surrounding the Navy game. Triple option leads to injuries, it can always be close, Navy possesses the ball, blah blah blah. It’s a game the Irish should never schedule ever, but they do, so we move on.
All of those usual narratives aside, Navy is a legitimately good football team this season. Malcolm Perry is a fantastic quarterback for the triple option system, and he’s even shown off his arm with some impressive passes this season. When you have a quarterback who can occasionally throw a fade in the red zone in a triple option offense, that can spell trouble. I actually think Navy is underrated in the rankings. What the committee sees as a No. 23 team, I see as more of a No. 17 football team that just can’t be ranked that high on account of the low level of competition it has faced.
But my biggest fear with this game is that, since Navy possesses the ball for so long, the Irish offense will have to capitalize on the few possessions it gets, and I think it’s reasonable that I’m hesitant they will do that. It’s not that I think they can’t handle the Midshipmen defense, it’s just that I don’t know if they’ll get enough chances to get things going since they’ve been slow to do so this season. I think the Irish fall to the Midshipmen here, but not by much.
FINAL: Navy 28, Notre Dame 24
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
Here it is, the stress-inducer of all stress-inducers for Notre Dame Football fans: the Navy Midshipmen. I would think that a 38-7 win over Duke on the road, after some offensive struggles against Michigan and Virginia Tech, would give me confidence that this team is back on the right track. However, herein lies the problem: I don’t know what Notre Dame team is going to show up this weekend. I can expect Clark Lea to put a stout defense on the field, but the triple option will inevitably get Navy points. The real issue is that the offense, particularly the offensive line and the receiving corps, is depleted by injuries. Against a No. 21-ranked Navy team that is almost guaranteed to dominate possession, the Irish offense will need to be uncharacteristically efficient as they will likely be limited to 8-10 total possessions. It’s going to be a tight one as usual, but I think the Irish will pull it out at home.
FINAL: Notre Dame 27, Navy 21
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
Ugh. The cursed triple option.
The Irish have been stressing me out the entire season, and this game is no exception. However, I see two bright spots in looking ahead to this matchup:
1. Notre Dame faced what was almost a quadruple-like option against Louisville to open the season, and, with no preparation, still made it out alive.
2. Brian Kelly knows what it takes to face the triple option, as highlighted in particular by last year’s 44-22 rout of the Midshipmen.
I can’t say I love inventing an entirely new defensive scheme to play Navy each year, but this year’s preparation could prove to be the mental refocus the Irish need in continuing to recover from that unspeakable game in Ann Arbor. Ian Book made me eat my words a little bit last week in Durham when he became the first QB with four passing touchdowns and 100+ rushing yards in a game, and I hope he continues to prove me wrong by coming out firing on all cylinders this weekend in South Bend. This matchup always threatens to be a trap game, and this year is no different, but I think that hot off of last week’s victory, Notre Dame can get this one done.
FINAL: Notre Dame 38, Navy 21
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
This is a game that I loathe seeing on the schedule every year. Navy chews clock, giving you limited possessions and opportunities to make adjustments. They can take 10 minutes off of the clock with a single drive, wearing your defense out in the process.
The Irish got the better of the Midshipmen last year, but that was a much different Navy team. This Navy team has scored 34 points or more in five-straight contests. Considering the speed the offense moves, I would argue that is comparable to a normal team scoring 50 in five-straight games. Maybe even more than that. I believe the Irish offense is going to be fine, especially after what we saw last weekend in Durham.
The Irish defense is a question mark. If the front seven shows up the way they did in Athens, the Irish could win in somewhat of a blowout. If the run defense from Ann Arbor gets rolled out on the field this weekend, it could be a blowout in the other direction. I think the reality will be somewhere in the middle, with the Irish coming out on top. The Midshipmen have not won in South Bend since 2009, and I do not believe this is the Irish team that will end that streak. Strap in for a stressful game, but the Irish take it.
FINAL: Notre Dame 24, Navy 17