Notre Dame Bye Week Arrives at Right Time

Notre Dame has the week off and gets to rest up before their contest against Navy next week. Between a rarely seen offense and tired or hurt players, this bye is much needed.

Even the casual fan knows about Navy and the triple option offense. It is an out dated offense but Coach Ken Niumatalolo runs it about as well as the few that still do. He comes from the Paul Johnson school of the triple option and it makes sense for the Academy schools to run this offense. Due to the major restrictions they face with their school, smaller linemen and less skilled players can make this offense productive with lesser talent.

Unfortunately for Navy, they have been anything but deadly this season. Sitting at 2-4 with blow out losses to Hawaii and Air Force, this season has been difficult for the Midshipmen. While they haven’t had the results they wanted, it doesn’t mean this team can’t be dangerous. Here is a highlight clip from their one point win over Memphis. I chose Memphis because it shows a few things to expect against a decent team.

 

I have watched a bit more detailed tape on Navy, but a few things are clear from this game. Navy will give up a TON of yards in chunks to the Irish and Navy has some athletes in the backfield.

First to touch on the defense and just getting gashed for huge plays. Notre Dame should not have an issue running up the score on Navy. Navy is allowing 31.8 points per game and they haven’t played any real high end competition yet. This defense can’t stop anyone and over the next four weeks they have to face Houston,#4 Notre Dame, #20 Cincinnati and#10 UCF. The four teams are a combined 24-1 so the Navy defense is about to look worse, a lot worse.

The defense isn’t what the Irish have to worry about, it is the offense you need to prepare for. Like I mentioned earlier, Navy runs a difficult offense to prepare for because you see it so infrequently and they do it so well. The biggest proponent to stopping this offense is knowing who has what person to stop the option. Say a defensive end has to key in on the QB, that is his only worry on the play. The issue becomes the blocking schemes and the amount of motion thrown into the offense. Then deciphering if the play is coming towards you, traps being run at you, if it’s a pass play, are they reading you and leaving you blocked/unblocked and the list goes on.

Navy has an offense that could take hours just to explain. We ran similar concepts back in my glory days so I always appreciate watching an option offense run as well as Navy, unless it’s against Notre Dame.  Navy has a complex offense, eats clock and the cut blocks are all staples in their offense. Cut blocks also always carry the possibility of injuries. People cutting the legs out just screams of rolled up knees and ankles. Heres a good example of what Notre dame has to prepare for in the trenches.

Getting this offense with one week of prep can lead to some issues, that’s why two weeks are so beneficial. Getting the defense use to the strategies and speed of an offense most don’t see is difficult with a one week notice. That and Notre Dame was looking a bit slow against Pitt last week.

It’s expected for a team to wear down after a grueling seven weeks and to be showing some wear. Pitt gave Notre Dame everything they could handle and players are banged up and need the rest.

Another big point will be the Navy game plan this week against Houston. Coach Niumatalolo said he was creating a game plan to counter All-American DT Ed Oliver Jr of Houston. He said this is only the second time he has done this with the other player being Aaron Donald at Pitt. The reason this affects the Irish is to see what could be possible schemes for Jerry Tillery. Tillery is very good, but he isn’t quite Oliver Jr good. But that doesn’t mean he won’t see a similar offensive game plan to take him out of it early. Notre Dame can shut this entire offense down with a good interior pressure. A lot of this offense starts with the mesh point between the QB and fullback. interior pressure can blow the play up before it starts. Now Notre Dame gets an extra week to get the defense situated and a sneak peak of the wrinkles Navy might add to counter that Irish defensive line.

Overall Navy shouldn’t give the Irish any issues out in San Diego but the bye week falls right in the middle of the season. Notre Dame owns Navy going 75-13 against the Midshipmen. That will be much of the same next weekend. But this is the time to get Tony Jones and Jafar Armstrong healthy as well as all the other bumps and bruises players need to take care of. Also looking ahead will be tougher games with Northwestern and Florida State the next two weeks. This is the time for Notre Dame to recharge and get ready for the final push towards their first playoff berth.

 

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