The defensive coordinator could point to just two stops of the Navy offense, one on a turnover and another on a critical stop in the fourth quarter. In the three overtimes, the Midshipmen had their way. Navy scored a touchdown, field goal, touchdown and a two-point conversion in the respective sessions to catapult themselves to their first victory in the series since 1963. It's the points allowed that concerns Brown.
"At the end of the day, we didn't keep them from scoring," Brown said on Wednesday about the Navy performance. "The only thing that matters in regulation is that we have more points than they do at the end of regulation. Whether it's three touchdowns or six or seven touchdowns, defensively we have to say, ‘We have to keep them off the board.' There's no silver lining. If they would have scored five touchdowns, I would have felt good about winning but we would have some work to do."
Brown said on Wednesday that his defense has surrendered too many points this season. Notre Dame is allowing 31 points a game to opponents, which is 88th in the nation. Some of this can be attributed to the lack of offensive production, which puts the defense in bad spots and forces them to be on the field for extended periods of time. The Irish have held just one team, UCLA with a walk-on quarter playing for the majority of the game, to under 27 points.
"I know we give up too many points for my liking," Brown said. "When I said I, I mean we collectively. We will get that resolved."
***Air Force, like Navy, runs the option but not exactly the same way. Still, the Falcons, like the Midshipmen, are successful with their offensive system. Air Force is fourth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 272 yards a contest on the ground. It'll be a steady diet of running the football as the Falcons are second-to-last in passing offense. While seeing a team that almost exclusively ran the football last week benefits Notre Dame, Air Force presents its own set of problems.
"Option is option," Brown said. "There are some similarities but they have their own niche. They have their own thing. They are pretty creative in what they do. There are some similarities but Air Force is Air Force."
Brown hopes from the bye week to now, the defense is familiar with what they're going to see on Saturday afternoon.
"Each and every team is different," Brown said. "What you need to do is look at what you do in the game. From a coaching standpoint, you need to see where you can coach better. From a players standpoint, you need to see where you can play better. If there's any carryover, and there's carryover every week, it helps you."
***The main focus for the Notre Dame defense will be to limit the production of do-everything Chad Hall. Most teams haven't been successful. The senior is listed at wide receiver but gets the ball in a variety of ways. Hall is the only player in Division I that leads his team in both receiving and rushing yards. The senior has rushed for 1,122 yards and 12 touchdowns and also caught 41 balls for 426 yards and another score.
"Hall is a very good player," Brown said. "I think he's difficult because he's so productive. He plays with a lot of confidence. He's a really good player. He presents problems for everyone."
Notre Dame will be cognizant of where No. 1 lines up in the Air Force formation.
"You have to know where that player is," Brown said. "It's like a good receiver. If he's a good receiver, you have to know where he is every single time. He's a pretty good player. You have to pay attention of where he is. If you don't, you can be in trouble."
***At Wednesday's practice, the Notre Dame players were in high spirits. The weather was cold in South Bend and the team seemed to be relishing the conditions. Despite the 1-8 record, this Irish team has generally been like this the entire season. There hasn't been a lot of negative comments, reactions or moods among the players. Brown credits the high character of the Notre Dame team.
"I've been around teams, I've been around guys and situations where teams are losing and everything falls apart," Brown said. "You got guys calling each other out and blaming one another. The players aren't speaking. It's offense vs. defense. There has not been any of that here. It's a credit to our players and everyone in the program because you can go two ways with that. You can let everything go haywire or you can make the most out of the situation. It's been a real tough situation and I know our guys have made the most of it."
***Brown in getting risky with some of his defensive calls against the option: "If the other team presents the option and the opportunity is there, it's something you have to do. If the opportunity presents itself, you have to do it. But like everything, there is risk and reward. But you can force it. You can force anything. It's like putting the square peg in the round hole."