Irish looking to bounce back

<P>This week has been kind strange. This game seems like it's not even happening. They hype and endless list of articles written by the press has ended. The lead story on Sports Center and Game Day is now about someone/something else. The media machine has ended and everything seems to be back to normal. This game almost seems trivial. Nobody seems interested in this game. </P>

Notre Dame better be interested in this game. They had better be motivated because Navy always comes to play against Notre Dame. The Irish offense will have to hold onto the ball. The defense will have to do the same job it has done every game. Notre Dame had better be prepared because they can't afford to take a nap against Navy.

When you look at how this team has done this year, it would be easy to take a nap. Navy enters this game with a 1-7 record. They allow an average of 41 points a game. They are ranked 113th in the country against the run allowing 234 yards a game. They also give up an average of 213 yards through the air and 9.4 yards a pass. Navy does not have a very good defense. In their most difficult games, Navy surrendered 65 points to North Carolina State, 48 points to Air Force and 46 points to Boston College.

On offense, they are ranked 4th in the country in rushing offense averaging 282 yards a game. Navy can run the football. All you need to do is look at the 243, 260 and 380 yards rushing they gained against North Carolina State, Air Force and Boston College. They also rushed for 378 yards against Northwestern and had 355 yards rushing in their last game against Tulane. The Navy offense has a hard time hanging onto the football. As I have always said, bad teams are bad teams because they turn the ball over. Navy has a total of 20 fumbles and 5 interceptions for an average of over 3 turnovers a game. They had 6 total turnovers against Boston College alone.

Quarterback Craig Candeto leads the Navy rushing attack. Navy will run a very similar offense to the Air Force offense and the key to stopping Navy is to take Candeto out of the game. Kyle Eckel, Tony Lane and Eric Roberts are the other backs that get the ball often. Lane and Roberts are averaging 8 yards per carry. When Navy throws the ball, Eric Roberts is the guy to watch. He averages 30 yards per catch and has a couple of touchdowns. Navy won't throw often but when they do, they will try to get something deep. Candeto is a 46% passer so throwing the ball is not what Navy does best.

This game is going to be just like the Air Force game. Notre Dame needs to shut down the rushing attack and force Navy to do something they don't want to do in throwing the football. That is a lot easier said than done. Navy can run the football and they have run the football effectively against some very good teams. Navy's problem is hanging onto the football.

On offense, the Irish need to run the football. Notre Dame should be able to run all day against this team. The offensive line has improved every game so they should be able to push this Navy defense around. Carlyle Holiday needs to hit some early passes to keep the defense from loading up in the box and then it's run and run some more. If Notre Dame can control the football and the clock, they should be able to take Navy out of their game. The Irish also need to score quickly and often to force Navy to play from behind. Notre Dame needs to come out with a sense of urgency because if they can force Navy to play from behind, they should be able to roll over this team.

If the Irish offense does not score quickly and often, Notre Dame is in for yet another long day. In a game like this, the longer you let a team like Navy hang around, the uglier this game will be. The Irish must come out with a sense of urgency on both sides of the football. They are going to have finish drives and put 7 points on the scoreboard each time they enter the red-zone. They will have to play disciplined football on defense and take Candeto out of the game.

I think you will see a highly motivated Irish team. You should see a Notre Dame team executing at a very high level. Notre Dame should score a lot of points this week. I expect the Irish to come out firing on all cylinders this week. Notre Dame 48 Navy 10. Top Stories