Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola (57) celebrates after a play during Saturday’s game. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Halftime Observations ND 17 Navy 3 ND has a slow start with no first quarter points. Penalties had impacts on the first three drives. The Irish stayed penalty clean on their 4th drive with Tyler Buchner in charge and got some help from Navy with a personal foul penalty. Result: the first touchdown of the day was scored at 2:46 of the second quarter. Never would have guessed that, and never would have guessed that about 90 seconds later, Coan would find Kevin Austin on an explosive 70 yarder and the Irish, despite their slow start would hold a two touchdown lead.

ND was overall 3-6 on their possessions. Not great, but in 2016 the Irish only had 6 possessions in the entire game!

Kevin Austin: oh my! 4 catches for 124 yards including the long TD. His best half in blue and gold, he might be in for a monster day.

Sure, the Irish started slow, but Navy never really got started at all. 57 yards of total offense in the half, hard to believe Navy once led 3-0. They had one play, a 32 yard gain on their second drive which led to the FG. Subtract that play and on the other 25 plays of the half, they gained 24 yards. And now their starting QB Ty Lavatai is hurt.

If the Irish shut the door on Navy on the first drive of the second half and their offense continues to click—Navy most certainly will be sunk by a bunch. Wow, what is it like to go into the last 10 minutes and the game not in doubt. I don’t remember.

How my halftime hunches played out in the second half No more catches for Austin and there was more pain to be had in the second half. Navy went on a 14 play drive that ate up almost 10 minutes of clock time to start the second half. The drive resulted in a field goal, and fortunately for the Irish Irish it was all the Midshipmen had left. They didn’t came close to scoring again, and against Navy, winning by 28 is “a bunch”.

Kurt Hinish: Beast Hinish finished the day with 10 tackles 2 tackles for loss and a sack. for his performance Brian Kelly awarded him the gameball. Post game Kelly commented, “Hinish was virtually unblockable inside. We were hoping that was going to be the case and it came out that way.” Against the option when your nose tackle is playing well, there is a pretty good chance your defense is playing well, because the first option, the fullback is under control. Kurt Hinish played well, Navy was held out of the end zone for the first time in the series since 1998 and totaled less than 200 yards of offense. A great day for Hinish and a great day for the Irish defense.

Practice makes perfect Post game last week, after a few breakdowns against North Carolina, Brian Kelly admitted that the Irish had some communication issues to clean up this. How did that work this week? According to rover back turned safety for the day Jack Kiser at practice this week a, “Sense of urgency to communicate” was instilled in the defense and the whole week was “gritty and uncomfortable at times.” So “uncomfortable” that there may have been more than one scuffle break out during some physical practice sessions against the scout team. Marcus Freeman apparently amped things up even more by working with the scout team offense and encouraging them to give his defense the best possible looks in practice in order to prepare them for the Navy triple option. It sounds like the scout team delivered because JD Bertrand when asked who between the Scout team offense and Navy (who failed to score a TD) played better, replied with a smile, “The scout team did have a couple of TDs”.

The Incredible shrinking Wide Receiver Room  Avery Davis went down grasping his left knee in the 4th quarter. The injury was reported by NBC as serious, if so it is not only sad for a player who is a Captain and has been a Fighting Irish warrior, but it leaves the receiver position razor thin. ND is now left with just Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy, and freshman Deion Colzie, Lorenzo Styles and Jayden Thomas among scholarship receivers. Brian Kelly said that there would be nothing certain about Davis until an MRI was performed but that discussions had already been held, “about an alternative to add somebody into that position.” Could a short term position move be in order? Here is a pure shot in the dark, Chris Tyree!

Quick Hits A quick visit to the viewing deck on the outside of the press box at halftime and the beautiful scene of a crisp and sunny fall day, the big crowd and the campus in all its autumn glory reminded me of my days before journalism changed my perspective and I was purely a fan. Love thee Notre Dame……Kyren Williams, who hardly gets a mention here, had another terrific game. 95 yards on the ground another 36 through the air and two TDs. His second score from 20 yards out included a spin move that was, as my kids would say, “sick”…..No turnovers by the Irish….Scout team quarterback Chase Kettler, who drew rave reviews for helping to prepare the Irish defense for the option this past week got the tackle on the last ND kickoff…..My 93 year old Mom, who hasn’t missed a single play of an ND game that anyone can remember, when asked what she thought of the Navy offense replied, “Boring”. I love the triple option chess match but, Mom is always right, I choose not to argue.

What it all means to the Irish The Irish win combined with Wake Forest’s first loss is significant. Wake was undefeated and rated #9, one slot above the Irish and they lost to North Carolina, who ND defeated last week. Undoubtedly Wake will fall and the Irish will move up to at least #9. Wake’s loss is also significant because it is rumored (strongly) that the Irish are headed to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on December 30 to play the ACC Champion. Wake, until Saturday was the favorite to win the ACC, they still might be but Pittsburgh at 7-2 is looking better all the time. The ACC Champion will be determined in the ACC championship game on December 4th.

There were two other games yesterday to consider that might impact ND’s ranking. Giant killer Purdue took out j#3 Michigan State. The Irish of course defeated the Boilers back in week 3 but they are now 6-3. Purdue also owns a win over at the time rated #2, Iowa. It will be interesting to see how far Michigan State now falls. Cincinnati continues to win, but barely, they escaped this week against Tulsa (who Navy had defeated last week) 28-20, but 9-0 is 9-0. Will the Bearcats move to #5 with MSU’s loss?

The Irish are 8-1 and now turn their attention to the 6-3, Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia averages 38.9 points per game, are first nationally in total offense and their QB, Brennan Armstrong passes for over 400 yards per game. So the Irish now must prepare for a style of ball that couldn’t be much different from Navy.

Like Brian Kelly said yesterday, “Check mark on the old option. Let’s go see how we handle now Brennan Armstrong and the Cavaliers.”

Don’t you love College Football?


ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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