Anatomy of a disaster
The Midshipmen ran for 348 net yards, and two players, quarterback Ricky Dobbs and fullback Vince Murray, exceeded 100 yards on the ground. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo reflected on his team's 27-21 loss to the Fighting Irish a year ago when talking about how his team prepared for the trip to Notre Dame this year. "I think the one thing that helped us, and I really hope this doesn't come across wrong, but I think the thing that helped us this year was last year, because we knew that they'd line up the same way," Niumatalolo said. "We didn't execute very well last year, and coming into this year — they did a great job against us last year defensively, so we had a pretty good clue that they were going to come back and do the same things as they did last year, and we had a few things (planned)." Navy used plenty of motion and unbalanced formations in its triple-option offense. "They're not used to being cut and blocked, and it's a whole different look for them," Dobbs said of Notre Dame's defense. "It has a lot to do with execution when we play anybody." Navy completed just two passes, though one was a long touchdown, a 52-yard strike from Dobbs to Greg Jones that was Jones' first career scoring catch. The passing total wasn't all that unusual for the Midshipmen, who didn't attempt a pass two weeks ago in a win over Wake Forest, a feat they also accomplished a year ago against SMU. Navy was averaging just under 280 yards rushing per game entering Saturday's contest, a number that would be its lowest since 2002. The Midshipmen ran for big gains throughout. Alexander Teich burst for 32 yards on an outside option pitch late in the first quarter. Murray ran up the middle for an easy 25-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Gee Gee Greene gained 16 and Dobbs 19 on a drive to end the first half that resulted in a missed field goal. Murray (14 carries, 158 yards) rumbled up the middle for 18 on the third play from scrimmage of the third quarter, and ran for 22 yards on the first play of the next drive. And he gained 39 up the middle from his team's own 1 yard line, in a play that Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis pointed to as a huge one in terms of momentum and change of field position, on the first play of the fourth quarter.
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