Three Keys - Navy at Notre Dame

Navy is ahead of the game in terms of reaching bowl eligibility in 2013, but they now face the hardest game on the schedule. A trip to Notre Dame is never easy, but coming off a win against Pittsburgh the Mids will at least be confident they can take it to the Irish in their own backyard.

Navy is ahead of the game in terms of reaching bowl eligibility in 2013, but they now face the hardest game on the schedule. A trip to Notre Dame is never easy, but coming off a win against Pittsburgh the Mids will at least be confident they can take it to the Irish in their own backyard. The team will have to be a model of efficiency to stand a chance, a not impossible task given there have been stretches this year when they have been just that.

Here are the three keys.

1) Win up front

Running the ball is always difficult against Notre Dame because they have the big, athletic defensive linemen which is common with BCS level schools. This year, however, Navy appears to be catching the Irish at the right time as there are big question marks about the health of some of their key players in the trenches. The biggest (literally) question is the availability of All-American defensive tackle Louis Nix. Nix has both shoulder and knee problems and didn't even travel for the Air Force game, if he is out (or even just limited) the middle of the defense becomes much easier for Navy to attack. With starter Sheldon Day and top reserve Ishaq Williams also banged up Navy must take advantage and pound the rock.

2) Block the corners

An interesting stat coming out of the Notre Dame versus Air Force game is that the Irish cornerbacks combined for 16 solo tackles and six assists. This number is obviously really high and indicates both that Notre Dame were very aggressive and active on defense, but also that the Falcons wide receivers were doing a terrible job of holding their blocks out wide. For the option to work there needs to be space on the outside so the Mids wide outs will have to block to the best of their ability to keep the defensive back's tackle count low.

3) Make momentum swinging plays

Notre Dame has lost three times to Navy since 2007 and the stats from those games are telling. The six Irish turnovers in those three games does not sound terrible on its own, but when you add in three missed field goals and six turnovers on downs you come up with 15 field position shifting plays. For Navy to have a shot at handing Notre Dame only their second November loss of the Brian Kelly era the defense has to create multiple swing plays of this nature.

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