Thursday, November 1, 2007

Notre Dame - Navy: What I Expect

The bye week has re-energized me and I can't wait to watch some Irish football this weekend against Navy. I don't know about you, but it didn't feel right to have a fall weekend last weekend with no Irish football. I believe the coaches and players used the bye week to recharge the batteries not only physically, but also mentally. Here are my fearless thoughts and predictions of what to expect from this weekend's contest with Navy:


OFFENSE:


1. Evan should have a nice day against this Navy defense. They are soft in coverage and mostly seek to keep the play in front of them. If Evan can be accurate with his short and intermediate routes, he should complete a high percentage of his throws. I do not believe we will see Jimmy in the game this week.


2. This game presents the perfect opportunity for Charlie to really work on the running game. The Irish have a considerable size advantage, and Navy has really struggled to stop the run. The Irish should be able to move the ball both through the air and on the ground, but for the benefit of developing our team, I expect Charlie to give the offense every opportunity to pound the ball on the ground. I will sound like a broken record, but I will say it again -- the Irish offense will never tap its potential until they can effectively run the football. This week is the perfect opportunity to begin to establish that mentality.


3. I expect a number of those quick WR screens. Some Irish fans understand them for what they are (a way to pick up a few yards and keep a struggling offense out of 3rd and long), while other Irish fans have grown to despise this play. Nevertheless, having watched film on Navy, their corners give HUGE cushions to receivers at the line of scrimmage. I expect Charlie to use a number of WR screens, especially early, to tempt Navy into bringing its corners up closer to the line of scrimmage.


4. I think this will be the week John Carlson gets rewarded for his team-first attitude and catches a number of balls. For the better part of the season, Carlson has not been significantly involved in the passing attack because he has had to stay in to help with blitz pickup and pass protection. Navy, however, ranks close to the bottom in number of sacks and their pass rush is weak. I expect that this will free up Charlie to allow Carlson to get involved in the passing game.


5. I expect that at the end of this game, Irish fans will come away believing that the O line has improved. Will this be the result of genuine improvement or a weaker opposing defense? Only time will tell. I suspect it will be a combination of the two. I will be very interested to see how many snaps guys like Chris Stewart (tackle and guard) and Dan Wenger (guard and center) get in this game.


DEFENSE:


1. I expect to hear the names Trevor Laws, Pat Kuntz, and Tom Zbikowski an awful lot on Saturday. I expect the Irish to play more of a 4 man line look on Saturday with a combination of 4-3 and 4-4 type looks. I expect Laws and Kuntz to figure prominently in attempting to plug the middle and stop the Navy fullback (who I believe is an excellent football player). I expect the Irish to bring Zbikowski up closer to the line of scrimmage to take the pitch man. In the 4-4 look, I think we will see Zbikowski functioning more like a LB in this game.


2. I expect Navy to put up a lot of yards, but not necessarily a lot of points, in this game. They are simply too efficient in their scheme on offense to shut down.


3. I do not think this is a game that will highlight Kerry Neal and Brian Smith as much as previous games. They are still light and need work on stopping the run. For both those guys, rushing the passer is their primary skill at this point in their development. Playing Navy, this week calls for strength in stopping the run, discipline, and thorough knowledge of your responsibilities within the scheme. I think this gameplan sets up for a Mo Crum/Brockington/Toryan Smith/John Ryan and even Vernaglia type of game.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

I have long since stopped making any predictions for what this Irish team will or will not do on special teams. At this point, I would be thrilled if on Monday morning when I am writing my wrap-up on the game that I do not have any major mistakes to write about. We can worry about making explosive plays on special teams after we fix the fundamental mistakes that we seem to make week in and week out.

PREDICTION:

Notre Dame - 27
Navy - 24

By the way, I am still looking to put together a mailbag feature, so please feel free to send any questions you might have to irishglory2007@gmail.com. Thank you.

4 comments:

sir john said...

As always a great analysis Glory. I especially agree with #5 on Offense and the #2 on defense you posted.

Face Mask said...

Very good read.I am looking forward to the game now.GO IRISH!!

Anonymous said...

At this point, any type of win will be more than acceptable.. I am very concerned that we can score enough points to win.. This game really scares me!!

IrishGlory said...

Anonymous - when you are 1-7 like we are, every game has to scare you. I am far from confident enough to guarantee a victory, but I do believe the Irish will play well and I do think they will win. I will say this -- if the Irish lose this game, I expect that it will be the most devastating (on many levels) loss of the season. The remainder of this season is about 3 things:

1. Get some positive momentum going into the offseason.
2. Hang on to the recruits we have and land a few more
3. See who of the younger guys begins to flash, both in terms of leadership and performance.

I will give you one tidbit -- I really feel that Armando is going to bust out, possibly this game.