Happy Notre Dame Fighting Irish Gamesmas Eve to all who celebrate! After weeks of waiting and, if you’re like me, furiously watching old college football highlights trying to satiate your cravings during breaks from work, your first kickoff is almost here from Aviva Stadium. We haven’t yet seen the Irish or the Navy Midshipmen in action this year and therefore can’t comment on what we’ve seen, so let’s do the next best thing: speculate wildly.
Here are three things you should expect to see unfold in tomorrow’s annual Wookie life debt fulfillment ritual.
Navy Will Attempt at Least 4 Deep Passes
And whether this is a close game will hinge on how many of those connect. The Middies are still running a triple-option attack and will be heavily dependent on Daba Fofana to move the chains, but the power of the Irish offense will make them have to take more chances than the usual every-now-and-then pass when they catch the opposing defense napping. Game circumstances will force Navy to attempt several passes with at least 40 air yards.
If they are successful in catching the Irish off guard, these plays have the potential to keep Navy in the game and create one of those classic infuriating close Navy games. If they are desperation heaves that the Irish see coming or if Navy’s quarterbacks aren’t able to execute, Irish fans can probably expect an easy Saturday afternoon.
Five Notre Dame Running Backs Will Get At Least Four Carries
One consistent beat coming out of offseason practices for Notre Dame has been the strength of its running back rotation. Audric Estime is a clear workhorse and no. 1 but Jadarian Price, Gi’Bran Payne, Devyn Ford and Jeremiyah Love have all received heaps of praise at various points. With the Irish looking to control the clock in this game and likely manage Estime’s load in the season opener, you can expect to see each of these guys get carries early and often.
I could see multiple 100-yard rushers emerging - Price and Love are particularly strong candidates - if these backs are able to break off long runs behind Notre Dame’s powerful offensive line, but for now I am content to predict that we will see a fresh and remarkably deep rotation of Irish backs marching by in Dublin.
Sam Hartman Will Slice and Dice On Short Routes
The part of Navy’s defense that has gotten the most praise is its defensive line. While the Irish offensive line will likely be able to hold its own, Gerad Parker and co. may also be aiming to make their work easy for them by letting the Irish tight ends and receivers exploit winnable matchups, get open quickly, move the chains and keep Navy’s front seven from affecting Sam Hartman. Make no mistake: Hartman came to Notre Dame to throw deep and will in this game, but there will also be a ton of free access to take advantage of and the aforementioned incentive to milk the clock in this game.
If the Irish can establish an early lead of the sort difficult for Navy to overcome, expect an insanely high completion percentage and QBR from Hartman as the Irish keep things relatively simple and methodically move the ball down the field.
If you think I’m insane and probably wrong for expecting to see these things, please share in the comments. Go Irish!