Continuing on with the 8th installment, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish flew out to San Diego for a neutral site game against the Navy Midshipmen. This is normally a matchup where the Irish clearly have more talent, but struggle to play disciplined football. Luckily, this was not the Vangorder days, and defensive coordinator Clark Lea had the team ready to play.
The Offense and Defense started off very strong, jumping out to a 27-0 halftime lead. However, The Irish let up a bit in the second half, allowing Navy to mount a small comeback, bringing the score to 37-22. Notre Dame didn’t necessarily need a drive to win the game, but needed a drive to deflate any real chance at a comeback.
The drive started with back to back runs by Dexter Williams to put them immediately in great position, but followed with a holding penalty on a solid Jafar Armstrong run. Next was a very short gain, which brought up a third and 9 from their own 48 yard line. The Irish needed to convert here to stop any chance of Navy scoring again and possibly making it a one score game
The Irish came out in a five wide empty set, clearly trying to create some mismatches with Navy linebackers and Notre Dame’s playmakers.
Navy showed blitz right away, but backed off into a cover 4 concept, dropping 7 into coverage to deal with 5 Notre Dame receivers. After the crossing routes seemed to fail, this turned into an old fashioned back yard football play. The pressure began to mount and Ian Book scrambled, which forced all of the receivers to abandon their routes and try to find the soft spot in the remaining coverage areas.
As you can see above, Jafar Armstrong locks eyes with Book and begins to streak towards the sidelines beyond the first down marker. He does a GREAT job of getting his hand up to ensure Book sees him.
Book makes an unbelievably accurate throw and places it perfectly for Armstrong to make a grab along the sidelines and continue the drive.
At worst this puts Notre Dame in field goal range to put the game at 3 scores and generally out of reach for a slower paced option offense. However, Book connect with Myles Boykin 3 plays later for a touchdown to officially put the game out of reach. This was a big play because it put the game away, but also put the improvisation skills of Book on display. He made an incredible throw at the right time to seal the game.
Thought it should be a different play? Let me know! As this is a new column taking place over the course of the next few weeks, I would love any and all feedback, and as always, GO IRISH!