The Irish are set to face yet another service academy, Navy comes to South Bend to battled with Notre Dame. The Irish are coming off their best offensive performance of the year, putting up 44-points. The bad is that they gave up their most points since the season opener against Florida State. The Irish have played very well this year, The upset alert really isn’t active but the there are still keys for the Irish to beat the Midshipmen and here are five of them.
The defense adjusting the option
Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Visiting Navy doesn’t run a modern zone option running game, they run the old school version of it. They often chop block to get defensive lineman off their balance so they can run the ball around them. Sometimes it takes more than a few series for a defense to adjust to Navy scheme and the fast the Irish do that, the better this game will go.
The offensive line getting to the second level
Notre Dame offensive lineman Michael Carmody (68) during the second half of an NCAA football game against Florida State on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
Stopping Navy’s solid linebacker ground should be a focus for the much improved Irish offense line. After battling through injuries and a new lineup, this group has finally looked like many of us thought they would, especially last week. The Midshipmen linebackers fly all over the field and make plays, and if the Notre Dame offensive line can get to their level and get them off their lanes, the Irish should be able to run the ball fairly easily.
Running the ball well
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – OCTOBER 30: Kyren Williams #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball during the fourth quarter while defended by Eugene Asante #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at Notre Dame Stadium on October 30, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
The Irish finally got the run game going last week and Kyren Williams looked the what we saw last year and this goes hand-in-hand with the above key. It would be great to see Williams go for another 150-200 yard game, but to also get the backups some solid attempts as well. Logan Diggs has really come around and it should like Chris Tyree is healthy enough to give it a go. After six straight games against solid to great competition, the Irish get a “breather” with Navy and have a chance to develop some depth again.
Getting Tyler Buchner some much needed passing experience
Oct 9, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Yes this isn’t a key (the Irish should win handily) but it is still important for the progression of next years starting quarterback. The undersized secondary shouldn’t be much of a match for the Irish wide receivers and with the first College Football Playoff rankings out, there is a lot of work to return to the final four. It will bode very well or the future of this offense to get Buchner as many passing attempts as he can over the last four regular season games. He’s shown he can run effectively but there is much more to be desired about his passing and can improve in that area starting with Navy.
Forcing Navy into 3rd-and-long situations
Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Leonard Taylor (11) drops a pass in the end zone as Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety DJ Brown (2) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker JD Bertrand (27) defend in the second half of the NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Cincinnati Bearcats defeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish 24-13.
Cincinnati Bearcats At Notre Dame Fighting Irish 225
The Midshipmen like to keep the ball on the ground, churning out yards and working the clock. Their not the most adept at passing the ball however, with just 472 passing yards on the year, so forcing them into third down situations where Navy is forced to pass is in Notre Dame’s favor. Keeping Navy in downs where they need to gain big yards to get a first down should turn out very well for the Irish.