Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Notre Dame Football 2009
Issue 9: Navy (Express Preview)

The good news is that Clausen, Allen, Parris, and yes, Michael Floyd are back. Of course, Parris and Floyd will be limited, and Parris isn't even listed on the two-deep. (Walker, Evans, and Goodman are listed as Tate and Floyd's backups).

The bad news is that Crist and Trevor Robinson are out. But Robinson's loss will hopefully not be a big one, as he's replaced by Dan Wenger, who started for most of last season. Plus, Robinson's injury will give younger players a chance to gain experience on a line that now features five seniors.

The University of the Navy scares me to death with their triple option attack. The only way to beat it is to fight discipline with discipline, and that's something the Irish defense has lacked this year.

Ethan Johnson, Ian Williams, and Brian Smith started slowly, but have improved as the season has gone on. They'll need to plug up the middle, or else Navy will keep pounding away with their fullback.

On the outside, smart assignment football is needed. The defensive ends shouldn't be an issue, as long as they can fight off the cut blocks. But senior John Ryan has been here before, and Kapron Lewis-Moore - assuming he can go despite an ankle injury last week - has quietly shined this year. (Perhaps he's another late blooming defensive lineman a la Trevor Laws?)

The outside linebackers and safeties are essential to preventing big runs. Te'o is only a freshman and facing a service academy for the first time. But he's shown the best instincts of anyone on this team not named Kyle McCarthy.

On the other side is Harrison Smith, whose mental lapses in assignments could spell trouble in this game. However, with Navy not running many three-receiver sets, we'll probably see more of Darius Fleming than Smith.

Another player to watch is strong safety Sergio Brown. He's a senior, but with little starting experience at his current position. Will he have the discipline to stay on his assignment, or will he go for the big play?

Oh, and on top of all that, Navy has a quarterback that can pass. Ricky Dobbs is averaging eight attempts and four completions a game, and nearly won it for the Midshipmen last year. Still, Notre Dame's goal will be to shut down the option on first and second down and force an obvious passing situation on third down. Navy may have their best passing quarterback in years, but even Dobbs can only do so much when the element of surprise is taken away.

Notre Dame Players to Watch

Allen, Floyd, Harrison Smith, Brown


Notre Dame 34, Navy 23