It’s funny how a college football game can feel so good in the first half, and by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, it has people begging for the game to just hurry up and finish.
The 44-22 win that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish got over the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday night was never really a close game, and the Irish were never in any real danger of losing. Still... it had enough twists to leave a weird feeling in the stomach.
Our Hangover is early — and we need to get past this.
RUNNING BACK AT FULL STRENGTH
Dexter Williams returned to form against Navy. The senior running back carried the ball 23 times for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns. He remains Notre Dame’s most explosive offensive player, and is able to find the smallest crease to slip through for yards.
Jafar Armstrong returned to form after a few games off, and gained another 52 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries. Armstrong showed that power and one cut and go ability that he started to make a name for himself during Notre Dame’s first three games.
The most impressive thing for me, was the involvement of Dexter and Jafar in the passing game. Armstrong especially was really good as he led all receivers with 5 receptions for 64 yards. Dexter added 3 receptions for 27 yards. As the season continues, this added dimension to the offense should prove valuable — even more so on 3rd down.
IAN BOOK STILL BOOKING
It was another performance from Ian Book that we have grown accustomed to this season. He was 27/33 for 33 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a bonehead interception. His 82% completion percentage could have been a little better (so weird to complain about this) because he was a little inaccurate with a few deep seam passes. Book also gained a smooth 50 yards on the ground.
So... it was a fairly normal day at the office for Book. Despite the claims that Notre Dame’s schedule is weak down the stretch, the Irish are going to be tested quite a bit, and the pressure will be turned up to almost an unbearable point. Can Book rise above all all of that and deliver? So far he’s shown that he absolutely can, but he’s also shown enough head-scratchers to cast some doubt.
A REALLY GOOD DEFENSE BUT STILL NOT GREAT
Notre Dame has been fantastic on defense this season, and the first half performance against Navy was inspiring. The Irish only allowed 74 yards in the first half against the Midshipmen, but they got really sloppy in the second half.
The scheme was sound, and the assignments were played fairly well — but the execution was rather poor in the third quarter especially. Notre Dame was arm tackling Navy, and they were whiffing badly. Troy Pride Jr. had a really rough time, and even provided a “turbo boost” for Malcom Perry to rattle off a 58 yard strike.
A lot of the physicality and sure tackling in the first half gave way to slopping around. It wasn’t terrible the entire final 30 minutes, but it had enough moments to have you wondering if they go too comfortable with their early success. A great defense plays the full 60, and Notre Dame just isn’t there yet. They certainly can get there, but that “foot on throat” mentality needs nurtured.
Notre Dame is fighting through some injuries now. Justin Yoon sat this game out, and Jonathan Doerer was called upon to fill the void. Doerer missed his first PAT, but settled in quite nicely.
Drue Tranquill went down with a leg injury that scared the crap out of everyone. Even though Jordan Genmark Heath and Shayne Simon were listed on the depth chart behind Tranquill, Drew White was the one that came in in Drue’s place. It would appear that Drew is the new “Greer Martini” when it comes to the option. He played a solid game and ended with 6 tackles.
Brian Kelly said Yoon could have played tonight if they needed him to, so we should expect him back next week against the Northwestern Wildcats.
Tranquill came out of the locker room with a boot on, and had an ankle sprain. The good news, according to Kelly, was that before the game was over, Tranquill had ditched the boot and was walking around fairly well. It will still be a few days, I’m sure, before we get a better grasp of how Drue will be moving forward.
I’ll end the Hangover with a very simple... Notre Dame is 8-0 for the first time since 2012.