No one is happy giving up 39 points to anyone. I don't care what opponent it is, it's not a good look when your hopes to make the college football playoff rely on a bunch of people in a room arguing over small details.
There are plenty of reasons behind why the Notre Dame defense gave up 39 points to Navy, as burger23 did a great job of breaking down. One thing that stood out to me watching the game live was the lack of tackles made by the cornerbacks. Some of that had to do with Cole Luke and Cody Riggs making sure the Irish weren't burned by the pass, but there was also an element of them getting blocked and staying blocked.
Playing against a team like Navy means that every player on defense is never going to get a free pass. They are going to make you earn it and I didn't feel that the corners did a good enough job of fighting through blocks to help in run support on Saturday night.
I didn't think it would happen, but this game made me miss having a player like Bennett Jackson. He was not the best cover guy, but he was a physical football player and strong tackler. Don't get me wrong, I really like the job Luke and Riggs have done overall this year and I feel they are both superior in coverage to Jackson. But Jackson had more of an edge to his game that is not seen in corners too often.
When watching film of cornerback commit Ashton White, I see that same kind of edge and competitive fire that I saw from Jackson. He fights through blocks and goes for broke when he tackles receivers and running backs. He looks solid in coverage and is fluid in his transitions, but the thing that makes me excited for his future is his aggressiveness.
Here's three examples from his most recent game against Gonzaga Prep (current Irish cornerback Devin Butler's high school) that demonstrates the mentality that I'm talking about:
The first play is just an average screen play out to the wide receiver. You can see that White is lined up in off-coverage and the inside receiver is headed straight to block him.
White doesn't avoid, he attacks the blocker.
The ball was incomplete, so White didn't have to make a tackle, but he was ready to do so because he put the receiver on his butt. That's rare. You just don't see corners take on blocks like a linebacker taking on an iso from a fullback.
The next play is BVG special. White is creeping up to blitz.
He times it perfectly and is able to make himself skinny to get through the line.
White finishes the play by making the tackle from the backside. This is less about him being someone that can blitz. Obviously that's something you see from a lot of corners. It's the fact that he goes through the B gap and not off the edge. A lot of other corners get caught up and are tentative if asked to mix it up inside through the forest of offensive linemen, but not White.
This last play is not White's finest play in coverage, but it's the way he fights back to make up for getting beat that is impressive. He's beat on an inside with a slant route and must hustle to get back and make the tackle.
He catches the receiver, but he's still competing to win the play and is able to strip the football.
The ball is on the ground. His team recovers. He got beat, but more than made up for it because he kept competing.
I know that it's not enough to play aggressive if you don't have the athleticism to go with that, but I believe White has that. And if that turns out not to be the case later down the line, he certainly has the right kind of mentality to be a productive player at safety as well.
Prior to committing to Notre Dame, White was committed to Viriginia Tech. Virginia Tech may not be where they were before with their program, but they have always done a great job identifying defensive backs that are fast, physical, and highly competitive. They send a lot of players to the league from their secondary.
White fits the mold of a Virginia Tech defensive back and adding him to the Notre Dame secondary should help bring more of an edge back to the cornerback position and to the defense in general.