Passing offense C+
At the end of the first half quarterback Trey Miller led Navy on a 10-play, 74 yard drive that ended in a 26-yard Navy field goal. Miller connected on seven passes of ten or more yards including a 41-yarder to Shawn Lynch in the drive that ended the first half. When Trey Miller and the Mids' got the ball to start the second half he took no time completing his first pass of the drive for 38 yards to junior Casey Bolena. After another bullet to Bolena, the Navy signal caller zeroed in on Shawn Lynch who had slipped by the Notre Dame secondary for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Lynch had a great night with four catches for 87 yards while Bolena totaled three grabs for 61 yards. Five other Midshipmen receivers caught passes including sophomore Noah Copeland who had three catches for 11 yards. Miller gives the Midshipmen another dimension with his ability to make plays with his arm; he was 14-of-19, with 192 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Rushing offense C-
The Midshipmen averaged 3.7 yards per carry and 149 yards but were unable to find the end zone. Junior fullback Darius Staten started the Mids off with a with a 12-yard run. Miller followed with a five yard rush, a completion, and two runs for a total of five yards. On fourth-and-one on the Irish 30-yard line, Irish pressure resulted in a sack and turnover on downs. The offensive line had trouble keeping the Irish's big defensive front out of the backfield throughout the day. Navy allowed six tackles for loss, three sacks, and a forced fumble that was recovered by Stephon Tuitt and returned 77 yards for a touchdown.
Passing defense C
Sophomore Parrish Gaines led the Midshipmen with 12 tackles, eight solo tackles, and an interception. Tra'ves Bush had eight tackles including a tackle for a loss at the rover position. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson was 12-of-18 with a throw for a score and an interception. With the score 13-0 at the start of the second quarter, and the Irish midfield, Golson completed a 35-yard pass to DaVaris Daniels who had slipped by Gaines. Later in the drive, Irish tight end Tyler Eifert may have gotten away with just enough of a push to create separation with Parrish Gaines for a five yard touchdown grab. Senior Keegan Wetzel had a sack in the Irish's opening drive and Danny Ring and Paul Quessenberry added on a sack of their own in Notre Dame's last series of the game.
Rushing defense F
With a rookie quarterback Everett Golson at the helm, the Irish chose to grind away at their ground game behind their beefy offensive line. Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III set the tone on The Opening play with an 11-yard rush to get things started. Theo Riddick took over from there with five carries of his own, capped off by an 11-yard score. Following a Navy turnover on downs, Atkinson III scampered for an untouched 56-yard score to put the game at 13-0. The Irish rushed 46 times for 293 yards and five scores averaging 6.4 yards per carry behind the power of their experienced offensive front. Riddick and Atkinson went on to score twice each for a total of 206 yards while averaging 7.4 yards per carry between them.
Special teams A
Pablo Beltran punted four times while averaging a 46.2 yards per punt which would have been good for fourth in the country a year ago. The sophomore punter had a long of 63 yards and placed one inside the 20-yard line. Junior Marcus Thomas returned five kicks for 117 yards with a long of 29 yards. Nick Sloan connected on a 26-yard field goal to put points on the board as the clock expired at the end of the first half. Though the Navy kick return team would have preferred not to take the field so many times, they committed no errors and continually gave the Mids decent field positions to start their drives.
It was a tough day for head coach Niumatalolo. The Mids got behind big early and spent the game trying to climb out of a rapidly growing hole. Too many turnovers from starting signal caller Trey Miller cost Navy any chance at climbing out of the big early deficit. At the end of the first half down 27-0, the Mids marched 74 yards inside the Notre Dame 10-yard line but were unable to get out of bounds. Niumatalolo chose to kick a 26-yard field goal, which up to that point it was the most pivotal decision of the game. Do you send the field goal unit on to go into the half trailing 24? Or do you try to take a shot at the end zone to go into halftime down three scores with the ball coming back to start the second half? Niumatalolo chose to settle for the field goal in a game that was steadily slipping out of reach. Miller's confidence may have been down with two lost fumbles--and failing to convert on 4th-and-1 on their opening drive--but he sure didn't show it coming out in the second half. Putting points on the board may have prevented the shutout until that point, but Niumatalolo knew continuing to show confidence in his guys and choosing plays needed to win games was just as important.
Ultimately it was turnovers that cost the Midshipmen a chance at keeping the game competitive -- Navy had four turnovers including three fumbles and an interception. When the offense avoids the turnovers and starts to completely click it may be scary. Though the Irish heavily relied on their run game, the Mids' still accounted for 26:23 minutes in the time of possession battle while gaining 341 total yards of offense. The young defensive line was outsized by a veteran group on the Notre Dame side. The Midshipmen showed they can move the ball on offense and have a selection of weapons that can make plays. The defense will not likely face another offensive line as tough as Notre Dame's the rest of the year.