Report Card: Navy vs. Notre Dame

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish easily defeated Navy 56-14 in a rout at Notre Dame Stadium. It was Navy's worst loss in the series since 2000 when Notre Dame rolled over a hapless Charlie Weatherbie coached team, 45-14.

Navy (2-6) has now suffered six straight losses in its worst stretch since 2002. The Mids streak of eight straight winning seasons ended with Saturday's loss. After losing three of the previous four games to the Mids, the Fighting Irish rushed for seven touchdowns while limiting Navy to a season low 229 yards of total offense. The Mids struggled on offense, made special teams mistakes and were over matched on defense.




Notre Dame


Trey Miller completed 5 of 13 passes for 33 yards and threw a touchdown pass. Miller hit Matt Aiken (2 rec., 16 yards) for a 12-yard gain and a first down to keep the opening drive alive. After Jabaree Tuani recovered the ND lateral, Miller missed Gee Gee Greene who was wide open on a wheel route. Later on the same drive he rolled out and hit Greene who ran a well concealed drag route for a nine yard touchdown. Alexander Teich caught 2 passes for just 8 yards.

Brandon Turner dropped a Trey Miller pass on the first series after halftime that should have been a 23-yard touchdown pass. Miller was sacked once and under pressure the majority of times he attempted to pass.
Navy rushed for 196 yards and averaged just 3.9 per carry. Trey Miller (19 att., 55 yards) was making his first start at quarterback. He struggled at times with his reads and was at times indecisive. It really didn't matter if he or Kriss Proctor was at quarterback because Notre Dame's defense dominated. The Mids were unable to block Irish inside linebacker Manti Te'o who made 13 tackles. Fullback Alex Teich, who ran for a career high 210 last season against ND, was held to 62 yards on 15 carries. Gee Gee Greene (3 att., 1yard) found no running room outside. A-back John Howell ran twice for 22 yards. Bo Snelson (2 att., 5 yards) needs to start running North-South and stop making unnecessary moves behind the line of scrimmage. Matt Aiken ran for 14 yards on a reverse. The Irish took away the pitch reads from Miller and his inexperience made it difficult for the Mids to sustain drives.. Backup quarterback Jarvis Cummings ran six times for 24 yards and scored the Mids final touchdown. Blocking on the perimeter after Doug Furman went down with an injury early was mediocre.
Irish quarterback Tommy Rees had an easy time completing 16 of 22 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. Rees wasn't sacked but inside linebacker Matt Warrick made a nice read in picking off a pass after the game had been decided. The young Mid secondary couldn't cover Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd who made six receptions for 121 yards and a score. Floyd ran right by plebe cornerback Parrish Gaines (7 tackles) and Rees hit him for a 56-yard scoring strike. Navy was in a Cover 2 defense but Rover Kwesi Mitchell, instead of picking up Floyd, played the underneath hitch route leaving Gaines alone in a speed mismatch. The ND receivers were open all day and Rees missed a few open throws or it actually could have been even uglier. Floyd caught a bubble screen pass on Notre Dame's opening play then broke Navy cornerback David Sperry and Kwesi Mitchell tackle attempts for a 25-yard gain. Sperry (3 tackles) was called for pass interference on the opening series. Plebe safety Chris Ferguson (9 tackles) made a nice play deflecting a pass that was nearly an interception. Jabaree Tuani alertly covered a lateral that the officials on the field ruled incomplete pass and it set up the Mids first touchdown. Navy's new front four look recorded no sacks and rarely pressured Rees.
Buddy Green used a 4-3 look for the first time since 2002 in a vain attempt to improve his struggling run defense. Jabaree Tuani moved inside to tackle along with Jared Marks. Josh Jones and Josh Dowling-Fitzpatrick started at defensive ends. It didn't help. The Irish averaged 5.2 yards per carry and rushed for seven touchdowns. It was the most rushing touchdowns scored by the Irish in 19 years. Navy was out manned by the ND's huge offensive line which knocked them off the ball all day. The poor tackling by Navy was chronic. Chris Ferguson was run over by Gray on the opening drive. On Woods' one yard touchdown run just before the end of the first half, Warrick (8 tackles) filled the hole unimpeded but threw a shoulder into Woods rather than wrapping up allowing Woods to bounce off and score. Linebacker Tra'ves Bush hustled and made eight tackles but was often engulfed at the point of attack.
On kickoff returns Marcus Thomas had a brutal day. Thomas was nearly stripped on the opening kickoff but the replay official overturned the call. With the Mids down 21-7, Thomas opened the floodgates to the rout when he muffed a short kickoff. Thomas and Bo Snelson were unable to simply fall on the fumble and ND recovered and scored making it 28-7. Darius Staten (4 KR, 89 yrds) replaced Thomas. Pablo Beltran averaged just 33.8 yards on his five punts. Jon Teague's badly missed a low line drive 47-yard field goal on Navy opening drive. Matt Aiken should have fair caught a punt he returned for one yard. The Mids kickoff coverage remains awful (30.3 per kickoff return for ND).
Ken Niumatalolo said he thought the Mids were overwhelmed by the atmosphere and "backed down". Buddy Green is at a loss for answers after switching to a 4-3 and seeing no improvement. He does have to take a hit for how fundamentally unsound the Mids have been. It's one thing to get knocked off the ball by a superior opponent, it's another to have so many players use poor tackling form and chronically missing tackles. I thought offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was a little pass happy on a few series in the second quarter rather than establishing the Navy run game and settling down his offense. In reviewing the game it's nitpicking however since the Mids were clearly outclassed. I give the Navy staff credit for trying to shake things up but the team just didn't respond.
It's one thing to lose. This Mids team looked lost and overmatched which we haven't seen in a long time. Even in the blowout loss to Southern Miss they didn't seem as overwhelmed as they were on Saturday.

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