The Midshipmen enter the game 6-3. Navy is off to its second-best start in 24 yards and its best start since 1996. The Midshipmen will be very motivated to win this game.
The Irish are off to their worst start since 1963, the same season of the last Navy victory.
Navy enters the game with the nation's best rushing offense, averaging almost 310 yards rushing on the ground. They run a triple-option attack mostly out of the wing formation, an offense the Irish rarely see.
The Midshipmen are led by quarterback, Craig Candeto. Candeto is second on the team in rushing with 767 yards and the year. He also has 11 rushing touchdowns on the year. Candeto completes 49 percent of his passes and has thrown for six touchdowns on the year.
Fullback, Kyle Eckel, is the leading rusher on the team with 808 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Slot backs, Eric Roberts and Tony Lane, also see the ball combining for 785 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Roberts is the main receiving threat catching 14 passes, for 342 yards, and four touchdowns on the year.
The secret to stopping the Navy rushing attack is playing disciplined football. Each player has an assignment, and as long as they stick to their assignment, they should be successful—if it were only that easy…
Navy is the leading rushing team in the country for a reason. They run their system very well, and teams have a hard time staying home. They disguise what they plan to do in formations and play-fakes, and confuse defenders as to which player will receive the ball. A defense must play very aggressive against the option, but it must be controlled and disciplined aggression. A defender cannot lose site of his responsibility or Navy will punch you in the mouth.
The Navy defense looks to be pretty solid as well. They do allow 170 yards rushing per game, but only 151 yards passing and a shade under 20 points per game. They have forced 12 interceptions on the year and recovered 10 fumbles. The Midshipmen only have 12 sacks on the season, and opposing defenses have completed 60 percent of their passes.
Navy has allowed 16 touchdowns on the ground, but only five through the air. Their third down defense is allowing a high 44 percent conversion rate, and they are 55 percent on fourth down. The Irish should be able to move to the football on Navy.
Navy likes to start off fast and has scored 81 of their 261 points in the first quarter. They should be very fired up for this game from the first kickoff.
How Would We Attack?
The Irish allow too many teams to dictate what will happen in a game. It seems like every Irish game this year has started out with a feeling-out period where they dabble in a little of everything to find what can be successful—except for the Pittsburgh game.
The Irish came out on a mission against Pittsburgh—they were going to run the football—and did so. The Irish are trying to find an identity on offense, and it seems as if the Irish coaching staff is afraid to make a mistake because they would have to play catch up. If there was ever a game to dictate what happens, this would be the game.
The Irish are more talented than Navy. They can overcome mistakes, bad plays and poor decisions in talent—just as they did last year.
The Midshipmen will expect the Irish to come out running the football. You cannot become a great passing or west coast offense--or whatever it's called--if you are afraid to dominate Navy. If you can't let your hair down against Navy, and throw caution to the wind, you will never have a good offense.
From the flip of the coin, I would like to see the Irish be aggressive. Take the opening kickoff if they win the toss, and then give Irish fans a glimpse of what this offense is supposed to look like. Again, if you are afraid to make mistakes, I can't see this offense ever develop to where it needs to be.
We would come out throwing, and throwing, and throwing the football. The Irish should exploit their lesser talent in one-on-one match ups. Navy will be determined to stop the run, as every opponent the Irish have faced, has. The Irish might as well come out with their vertical passing game and attack a slower, smaller and less talented defense.
It's time to make a statement and start dictating what happens in game. If the Irish want to ever attack on offense, the Navy defense would be a good starting point. Again, how can you learn to attack on offense, at the line of scrimmage, or anywhere if you are afraid to attack Navy?
We feel the Irish will probably try to establish the run, and struggle allowing Navy to stay in the game. The Irish coaches will probably play it conservative to make sure they are in the game. We fear that if they call a conservative game plan, the Irish team will respond with conservative play.
We expect the Irish to struggle on defense early with two inexperienced safeties. We also expect the Irish to struggle early on offense while they try to establish the run. The Irish will have another fourth quarter comeback and steal another game from Navy. Notre Dame 35 Navy 31.