Eye in the Sky: Defensive Backs

Our full film review of the two Irish safeties and three cornerbacks in Saturday's contest.

Irish Safeties

Smith and Motta were consistently late in support, though Smith saved several long gains. Motta took one of the cheapest, needless hits to the back of the knee I've seen (described below).

Safety Harrison Smith: Hustled about 40 yards across the field as the only Irish defender to touch Alexander Teich on the fullback's 31-yard TD catch-and-run. Smith drilled Teich low but the game MVP dove and spun into the end zone for the go-ahead score…A little high in pursuit of Dobbs one series later as the QB cut back for four extra yards through his one-handed arm attempt (11-yard gain).

Grabbed the receiver downfield after biting reverse action in the backfield. Smith took one for the team, using a college DB's last resort by grabbing and intentionally interfering with the receiver who would have gained 31 yards (or scored) on the pass. Not a good play, but a smart last-gasp effort that resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Of note, it was either Smith (likely) or Darrin Walls who was responsible to drop deep in this instance. It was Wall's man that threw the pass.

Miraculous heel tackle on Dobbs as the QB was limited to 9 instead of 73 yards on a cutback run midway through the 2nd Quarter…Lost sight of the ball after a cut block on the perimeter and was late to react as Gee Gee Greene ran by him for a diving 9-yard TD to end the half. Navy 21 ND 10.

2nd Half: Saving tackle No. 1 of the half, this time 12 yards downfield vs. Teich. Smith was late to come up as well as that's a tough assignment for Te'o (backside on the snap)…Appeared to injure his right shoulder chasing down Teich after a 12-yard sprint to the far sideline.

Safety Zeke Motta: Slow to fill his lane vs. Dobbs on the game's opening carry (gain of 7)…Fought off a late downfield cut block to limit Gee Gee Greene to 13 yards on a toss play…Weak attempt in space vs. Greene on a toss left that gained 10 yards…Teamed with Harrison Smith to stop Teich after an 8-yard gain down to the Irish 6-yard line…Late to fill on Dobbs' 4-yard touchdown run but that's a tough assignment as he also had backside responsibility (TD was more a function of good blocks on Lewis-Moore and Te'o).

2nd Half: Slow to fill on a Dobbs keeper for 8 yards as Te'o was cut down in front of him.

Chopped down by one of the cheapest, low-rent "blocks" I've ever seen as slot back John Howell dove into the back of a standing still Zeke Motta's right knee/shin five yards away from the pile at the whistle. If any other program besides Navy, Air Force or Army employed these bush league tactics they'd be considered the dirtiest group in college football. It's pathetic that head coach Ken Niumatalolo allows this every game, every season. (3rd Quarter, 9:52 on your game tape if you still have it.).

Had no idea where the ball was as Teich (the guy that carried it 26 times, mind you) sprinted untouched for 25 yards up the gut before Motta recovered to turn and run him down with help from Robert Blanton.

Irish Cornerbacks

There were three plays to be made in the passing game – the Irish DBs were 0-3 in those instances.

Boundary Corner Gary Gray: Would not have caught Alexander Teich on the fullback's sprint down the heart of the Irish defense. Gray's foot appeared to bother him as he sprinted behind the Navy senior.

2nd Half: Lost sight of the ball, his fundamentals, then his effort on a terribly thrown ball to the corner that nonetheless was corralled by WR Greg Jones for a 40-yard gain, setting up a Dobbs touchdown run one snap later. 28-10 Navy.

Backup Robert Blanton: Lost sight of the run-action in front of him and couldn't get off a block deep in the Navy end zone as Gee Gee Greene dove in for a half-ending score. Not really Blanton's responsibility, but a microcosm of the contest nonetheless.

2nd Half: Filling in briefly at safety for an injured Harrison Smith, took too shallow of an angle vs. Teich on a 25-yard burst. Blanton and Motta ran him down after the damage was done.

Field Cornerback Darrin Walls: Chased down FB Alexander Teich after an opening series gain of 54 yards on 3rd and 1. No one else was catching Teich on what would have been a 89-yard TD sprint.

2nd Half: Uninvolved…

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories