Three Keys Revisited: Navy vs. Notre Dame

After each game week this season we will look back at the three keys which we believed would lead to a Navy victory and access how the team did in these areas. Doing this should provide some perspective on where the Mids went right (or wrong) on game day. After a 50-10 defeat in Ireland it is probably a safe bet to say more went wrong that right, but let's delve a little deeper into this.

1) Turn the Crowd

By most accounts the crowd was split about 75/25 in Notre Dames favor from the outset. In terms of tickets, about 30,000 went to Notre Dames travelling contingent with the other 19,000 to Navy and local fans. Even with that being said Navy could have got some of those neutrals on their side, but the Mids gave them nothing to cheer for.

Notre Dame got on top early and with the physical play of their offensive and defensive lines the Irish were able to control the game. Navy could not get Notre Dame off the field on their first drive (resulting in a touchdown) and momentum shifted for good when Trey Miller was stuffed on 4th and 1 at the ND 30 on Navy's first drive of the game. The nail in the coffin was the 77-yard fumble return by Stephon Tuitt which made it 27-0 before half time. With the crowd lost the game was over.

2) Get to Everett Golson Early

Notre Dame was generally able to keep the Navy pass rush off of Golson by using their size to dominate the line of scrimmage. In addition to their pass blocking the Irish executed an outstanding game plan which saw them run the ball more successfully than most expected, which was another way of keeping Golson out of the line of fire. Any time that your ground game combines for 293 yards and five touchdowns the quarterback is going to be protected.

Having said all that there was one moment in the first Notre Dame series where it looked like the Navy defense was going to be able to make Golson nervous. On first and 10 at the Navy 24 Golson was sacked for a loss of eight by Keegan Wetzel forcing the freshman out of his comfort zone. If Navy could have held for a field goal the game may have taken a different path, but a personal foul two plays later kept the drive alive and the Irish capitalized ruthlessly.

3) Use Trey Miller Effectively

Despite the blow out 40 point loss, I think there is some positivity to be taken from this game, chiefly the passing effort of Trey Miller. For whatever reason (a young offensive line that was outmatched athletically and the score getting out of hand) the triple option attack was shut down. Miller, for example, had 20 carries for 16 yards and no individual run for more than eight yards. As the line grows in confidence, and the schedule gets lighter though, Navy will find ways to run the ball effectively.

What Miller showed on Saturday is that in 2012 Navy doesn't just have to rely on running the ball. Miller was 14 of 19 for almost 200 yards on the day and if he can throw for around that yardage week in week out this fall it is hard to see Navy losing many games.

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