Exhale: Navy Instant Reaction

Some quick hits after Notre Dame narrowly kept alive hopes of reaching a New Year’s 6 bowl game with a 24-17…I guess technically it’s called a win against Navy…

– I knew we were in for a long afternoon when ND came out and passed 3 consecutive times. I know Brian Kelly and OC Chip Long want to build confidence back up for Brandon Wimbush, but the absolute worst way to do that is to take the ball after winning the toss, then say, ‘Alright, kid, this might be our only drive of the quarter…have at it”. Predictably, ND went three-and-out.

– That being said, have to give Wimbush some credit for mental toughness. After a complete mess of a start to the game, including basically killing his best wide receiver (Equanimeous St. Brown – get well soon, buddy), he returned to the field facing a 10-3 deficit and a very restless crowd and played darn near perfectly the rest of the game. The final numbers aren’t crazy beautiful – 9/18, 164 yards, 2 TD – but he came up with some big-time plays when ND absolutely had to have them, most importantly that drive at the end of the first half.

– It looked like it was all going down in flames for ND at the end of the first half, when Chris “Your Literal Only Job Is To Fair-Catch Punts” Finke flubbed the ball over to Navy on a punt and the Middies went up 10-3 in response with barely a minute to go. Wimbush made some remarkable throws on the ensuing drive and gutted his way into the end zone on a draw after Kevin Stepherson dropped a pitch-perfect TD on the previous play. Without doubt in my opinion, the biggest drive of the game, and it only looked bigger after Navy scored on an eight-minute possession to open the third quarter.

– Far be it from me to impugn Ken Niumatalolo, who drives me absolutely insane every year with the way he gets the Mids ready to play the Irish, but there were two plays I didn’t understand from him. First, I’m surprised he kicked the field goal on 4th and 4 late in the 3rd. Granted, that’s much easier to say after Owen White missed the kick, but I was sort of wondering to myself even before why he wouldn’t just go for it. A field goal didn’t do a lot for Navy at the time – yes, it gave them the lead, but you had to sort of think ND was going to get a TD at some point – and the Irish defense was having all kinds of trouble stopping the Mids, especially on big downs.

– The second call I didn’t get was the halfback pass on Navy’s final offensive play. This is the second time in Navy’s last 3 visits to ND that Ken has gone to his bag of tricks with the game on the line; four years ago he called a reverse in a similar spot. It didn’t come close to working then. It came a little closer this time, but ND again got the stop it needed and Navy again asked their players to do something they aren’t necessarily good at with the game at stake.

– It’s always hard to measure ND in this game against ND in other games because it’s basically a different sport against Navy. That being said, as I mentioned, the Irish defense was brutal on big downs. 3rd and 16 run play conversions, 4th and long wheel routes to the fullback for conversions, a few missed tackles on a 4th and 3 conversion play that ND had dead to rights…oh boy. It’s making me nauseous just thinking about it. Let’s just move on.

– Josh Adams had a very quiet 106 yards rushing even though he averaged nearly 6 yards per carry. Kevin Stepherson had 103 yards receiving and 2 scores and should have had far more. Get this kid some stickum.

– You know how Alabama is constantly bringing back alums to run scout team or whatever for opponents? Greer Martini needs to be a special option-week-only coach. He does a dang good job against the option.

– As I said at the top, just beat Stanford. First of all, it’s about time ND wins out there; they haven’t won since The Season That Shall Not Be Named 10 years ago. And of course, more importantly, a win puts the Irish in a New Year’s 6 bowl. As of this moment it seems likely such a matchup would be against a Big Ten team, likely Wisconsin or Penn State (I just don’t trust Bucky to beat Ohio State, and the Orange Bowl seems like a cinch to be SEC runner-up vs ACC runner-up). Let’s go get it, please.

(Photo credit: Matt Cashore)

By |2018-05-09T22:25:46+00:00November 18th, 2017|18S Reads|55 Comments

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herecometheirishHolyCrossHogConcrete Charliemlafort1Publius2010 Recent comment authors
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Football was a verb
Football was a verb

Great summary. Agree 100% on all of the above.

dannan14
dannan14

Wimbush had plenty of bad throws today, but the 3 drops hurt the most, i think. Also, i can’t really blame Finke for the fumble. He got hit by 4 unblocked guys. i guess Polian sucks at special teams now. What’s that about Alabama bringing in alums for practices? i never heard that before. How can it be legal?

KG
KG

It’s probably only legal because no one else but Nick Saban has thought of it before. But they do it.

kiwifan
kiwifan

Back when I was a student in the early 60’s, alums played in the blue and gold games.

King Kenny
King Kenny

Really happy for the win. When plays absolutely had to be made the team made them. What Chip Long was thinking calling a pass play on that critical 3rd and 2 blows my mind. Just really stupid and it could have cost us the game. Had Navy scored you can bet your ass they would have went for two. Overall I am pretty disgusted with what I saw overall today. Like I said in the gameday thread. I believe in Wimbush. I think he is going to be a dynamic star in 2018 but I have got to stop making excuses for his passing.

All the confidence I had for this team has completely vanished due to our play over the past 2 games. I have zero faith in this team going on the road and beating Stanford. Before the season I picked that we would finish at 9-3. Prove me wrong Notre Dame!

kiwifan
kiwifan

Third and 2 call was fine, wide open. Mack proved once again you can’t count on him. That was a catchable ball.

KG
KG

Yeah, as much as I’d like to critique the play call, it wasn’t the play call, it was the execution. Mack is not good. He must be a hell of a practice player because he doesn’t justify his playing time with results on Saturday.

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

The receiver was open but a rusher was in Wimbush’s face. I don’t think we need to get fancy against Navy in that situation.

KG
KG

Yet it hit Mack in the hands. Make the damn play and it’s not an issue. Not what I would have called, but part of why I wouldn’t call it is I don’t trust Mack to catch a cold.

King Kenny
King Kenny

Exactly. I didnt like risking Wimbush dropping back and throwing it on third and short. If we cant get two yards versus Navy in that situation with the game on the line we dont deserve to win. Had we lost today I guarantee everyone on here would be pointing to that play and asking why do it?

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

So was the ball the Seahawks threw in the Super Bowl…there are some situations where you don’t throw, and 3rd & 2 with a lousy QB and lousy WRs and against a tiny DL is one of them.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Navy does things to make you uncomfortable. They’re basically a well-oiled machine on offense designed to get yards and obliterate the clock. Annoying but gotta respect it. Can nitpick here or there for the defense but they did force 18 3rd downs, 12 converted by 3rd or 4th by Navy. Very impressive. Few penalties, few mistakes, just so disciplined.

Wimbush throws better in the first half or Finke doesn’t screw up the punt and this is a comfortable win. They didn’t so it wasn’t comfortable but it still was a win and offense impressed in the second half.

A win is a win is a win. 9-2 is good. ESB injury looked scary couldn’t believe he walked that off, hopefully that looked so much worse than damage caused.

Time to focus on Stanford and get a 10 win season for the second time in three years. Not bad considering all the negativity after last week’s stinker. Thank you seniors. Go Irish.

dannan14
dannan14

Yeah, i think it’s going to turn out that ESB was really lucky and merely has a very sore neck. Or at least i hope it’s no worse than that…even if it keeps him out of the Stanford game. That landing was scary.

Hitman
Hitman

I wish I had the self-discipline to not watch whenever we play Navy. Every year I just hope for a victory and no major injuries and I think (hope!) we accomplished that. It is just so frustrating to watch that offense. Agree with your reaction, I was happy but puzzled by the FG attempt and the last play.

No matter what the coaching staff says every week, I still don’t believe Josh has been healthy since the NCS game.

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

Most disappointing thing today was that the weather really didn’t allow the unis to shine. If it was a bright noon start then they would have looked much better.

Even his freshman year, IIRC Nyles had a big game against Navy. I hope whatever it is heals before the bowl game.

I don’t understand the use (or misuse) of our stable of running backs. I get that Adams only has a couple more games at Notre Dame but I refuse to believe he’s not hurt. That’s right BK, I’m calling you a liar. He’s so good that he can limp for 100 yards but why not give Jones a couple more carries after he ripped off that 17 yarder?

KG
KG

Yay. We won. We’re a “Good BK team” who will finish with 10 wins (either beat Stanford and lose in a NY6 game, or lose to Stanford and win a bowl game) and then next year we’ll start the cycle all over again.I shouldn’t have been suckered into believing things were any different this year. Why try to make Wimbush into Baker Mayfield the first drive instead of using our All-American, First Round, Best Evahr offensive line to simply sit on Navy and bludgeon them to death? On defense it’s frustrating, but that’s what Navy does–if you can’t disrupt and make them lose yards, they will move the ball on you. I don’t understand it, but it is what it is. Sure, fine, “survive” and move on. I’d have been thrilled with 9-2 going into Stanford had you told me before the season. The first half of the season made me expect more than a “Good BK” team. Guess that’s the best we can hope for.

More Noise
More Noise

Sheesh. I am with Hook Orpik on all this. Anyway —
1. Navy only scored 17 points.
2. Agree w KG on the 3rd and 2; Alize has been the biggest disappointment of the year, IMO.
3. Yes, Brandon was shaky at the beginning. To me, bad wind hurt but more importantly, Miami hangover. Best thing was, he got better.
4, Not sure I agree about the passing v running. Navy was really loading up against the run.
5, So, KG – I know how you feel. But do we know yet if it might not be a “Very Good” BK team? That is, I am flying 6,000 miles to help cheer for us to beat the stupid Tree, which we really need to do. If we do… and we win a major bowl… we will have gotten several monkeys off our back. Unfortunately not “winning the big one…” but that was last week.
Hell, it’s 2:30 in the morning, so beddy bye for me. But just to say, you guys are great!

KG
KG

The QB who started against us was their 3rd string guy. The one who played most of the game got benched after starting most of the season, and the guy he got benched for had a great game last week but got hurt. Hypothetically we didn’t even face their best QB.

As for being a “Very Good” BK team–would love to see it. I’m not saying we won’t. I just don’t know what happened to this team the last three weeks. It appears to be regressing to the mean. I’d love for that not to be true.

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

As I said in chat, I’m with you man. The biggest disappointment for me is that this year there seemed to have been fundamental changes made to the character of the team. We were “nasty” we were “gonna pound it”. But for real this time. And contrary to previous results, it looked like Kelly was really going to change his spots. But the same fundamental flaws came back into the picture. Failing to show up on a big stage. Fading in November. “If only our players had executed a few of those brilliant plays better”. So, we’re left with an 8-5 coach who, when he has some stud seniors somewhere on the team, can manage a few games better than that. But not, so far, better.

KG
KG

We’ll always have crushing USC.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

“Shaky” is an understatement – Wimbush was absolute trash in the first half, and was good enough, but only just that, in the second. Even the pass that everyone is (justifably) giving Alize a lot of guff for was not a good throw.

I can’t believe it has taken 11 games and they don’t get that we will only win despite Wimbush’s arm, and certainly not because of it. He’s closer to high-quality triple-option quarterback than Kizer or even Golson, and it’d be better to treat him as such – tell him to run more zone-read keepers (i.e., actually pull the ball) and throw about 2/3 as much as we do, and when we throw only throw deep.

King Kenny
King Kenny

After the past two weeks Wimbush deserves all the shots that are being thrown in his direction. He hasnt looked well but I believe this kid can be special in 2018. I still believe in him and so does BK. As bad as Wimbush was today he still scored 3 TD. That touchdown run to end the half was huge and he had to run through multiple tackles to muscle his way in.

The 3rd and 2 pass to Wimbush was a terrible call. To not run in that situation was just stupid IMO.You have a quarterback who wasnt sharp today who was throwing in the wind and rain. You have a TE who probably leads the team in drops. The play was destined to fail.

KG
KG

So you’re saying we didn’t learn from our previous monsoon experiences? Hmmm….

Orlok
Orlok

Yeah, this is how I feel too.
Bench Alize.
Run on 3rd and two against Navy – and they’re having a down year.
Seems like the cycle will start again next year. If you don’t believe that, then you believe “This time it’s different!”
Hopefully I feel better next week but Stanford looked good last week with their new QB.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

So, we still thinking Wimbush is the second coming of Deshaun Watson?

Eric Murtaugh

#OldTakesExposed

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

There have been bad takes on this here 18Stripes, including plenty by yours truly, but I think that one is the worst of them all.

KG
KG

Looks like Meh Stanford showed up tonight. Which means we get the one that beat Washington, probably.

KG
KG

Ah, whatever. Turning the page, it’s David Shaw Hate Week. They just showed his stupid smug face as his kicker (named “Jet Toner”–seriously? ALL the “PC LOAD LETTER?!” jokes in the Slack next week) missed that FG. I’m over the Navy game. Just beat the smug out of David Shaw. And make him cry about some stupid “band playing too loud” or whatever thing so he can whine.

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

Wake beat NC State, whatever that means

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

It means the “NC State was a big win!” take was also a bad take and, indeed, Brian Kelly remains stuck at one big win since December 2012.

(The take would have been a bad take even if they won, though.)

KG
KG

[insert “Wake Forest was a big win!” take]

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Though, it looks like Stanford just locked up the Cal game, so he will have the opportunity for a big win next week.

So I’m not feeling good about that game all of a sudden.

Publius2010
Publius2010

We really should beat this very ‘meh’ Stanford. I don’t trust the same Brian Kelly who had disastrous opening drives the past two games to win that.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

If Notre Dame wins next week it’ll be at the expense of a now 4 loss Stanford team, and one of the most unimpressive team’s in Shaw’s tenure at that. How big is that? A win next week isn’t going to change anyone’s opinions or narratives on BK’s road fortunes. Not like they are 10-1 and headed to the PAC championship

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Agree that the level of competition arguably doesn’t rise to the other big games we’ve had since the 2012 season, but I’m willing to credit it because (1) it’s Stanford, who at this point may be our #2 rival (sadly, given how the Harbaugh-and-after era has gone, one might even say our “aspirational peer”), (2) Stanford is ranked, (3) it may be the difference between getting a big bowl game and a meaningless bowl game, and, perhaps most importantly, (4) the difference between an 11-2 season and a 10-3 or 9-4 season in terms of program perception will be momentous, and we can only get to 11-2 by winning next Saturday.

KG
KG

No, but they could be 8-4 and headed to the PAC12 Championship, if UW beats Wazzu.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Pounding a team ranked #14 at the time is still the take. Obviously nc state isn’t a quality team as exposed by the season, but at one point beating them decisively was an impressive feat and that’s not an inaccurate statement.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

It’s NC State. It was not a big game.

KG
KG

At least we beat them worse than Clemson did!

CardinalBaseball
CardinalBaseball

Like everyone else After the NC State game I get like things were really different, but these last 3 weeks have completely shaken that feeling. Today straight up felt like a 2014/2015 redux.
Chris Finke has the worst decision making as a punt returner that I can recall. Regardless of his blocking he makes piss poor decision back there and it finally came back to beat them. Jumping offsides on 4th and 2. The 3 and out to start the game.

After the Georgia game, Eric looked ahead at the problems that lie ahead and it seemed super depressing writing off the usc game (thankfully he was wrong) and the Michigan game next year. But I have no faith at this point In wimbush and this offensive staff putting together a plan against Michigan front 7 and their coaching staff, which makes all the talk of Kelly requiring the right mix of seniors to have a good team seem on point.
Then again win next week and all else will be forgotten

Publius2010
Publius2010

Having to make a fourth down stop late in the game to beat Navy is just what you want during year eight of the BK era.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Hey on the bright side, Notre Dame has one a one score game for the first time since the Reagan adminstration. (I think)

mlafort1
mlafort1

The Miami loss burned a lot of good will for folks, myself included, so it makes sense that people are upset about this one. I will say that every non-Alabama playoff team has a game like this each year where they just hang on against an overmatched team that’s fired up to play. Also I won’t defend each play call but a 31-18 run-pass ratio is about as run-heavy as you’ll see for a non-option team.

However, context matters and this game made me angry because I’m a lot less bullish on our chances against Stanford, much less a big bowl opponent. If the team bounces back to playing like it did against Sparty and USC, this “bad win” doesn’t matter a whole lot. The problem is we just don’t seem capable of that right now.

More Noise
More Noise

Well… I guess we shall see what we shall see. It is true that an awful lot is riding on the outcome of this game in terms of this year. I for one am excited and anxious to see how the team continues to evolve.
Query: do we have an Xs and Os guy who could analyze the 3rd down 19 yard run by the fullback? Is it perhaps true that on 3rd and 15 our D might have been looking for anything but the fullback, and in addition that Navy is really really good at concealing and giving very different and subtle looks and nuances?
So I am wondering if anyone has the time to dissect that one and show us if it was a major mistake by one or more of our guys, or maybe a clever Navy changeup that caught us in a bad alignment? Somehow despite all the handwringing about poor attitude etc., given the overall effort by the D that put Navy well under their offensive averages I just don’t think this play (which yes I confess had me screaming viciously bad French swear words) was proof of poorly coached, lackluster players in a November swoon.

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

Not an X and O guy, but the play was somewhat similar to the “reverse draw” Kelly likes to run. The whole formation moves right except the FB and a blocker to stop the backside defender. You can see in the replay that about 10 of our defenders were fooled and went the wrong way and the 1 was blocked.

We ran our version last night actually but it went for no gain.

mlafort1
mlafort1

Yeah, there’s still plenty of room to evolve in theory. With an almost all-new coaching staff, you’d expect to see improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 as well. That’s especially true for a guy like Long in just his second year calling plays. Depends on whether the eighth-year head coach enables that growth or not.

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

Not sure if this has any bearing on the discussion, but it was really really really awful weather. TV may not have picked up how terrible it was to be outside. Driving rain soaking through everything, cold, and very windy. The puddles were like lakes. In that tailgate area where they park busses there was an unnamed lake that looked to be about 12 inches deep and that covered probably 20,000 square feet. The weather basically took the crowd completely out of the game.

mlafort1
mlafort1

Yeah, its always tough to tell how bad the weather is on tv. Every once in a while you could see the rain coming down in close-up shots but from the normal camera angle it just looks like a cloudy day.

More Noise
More Noise

From my perspective, this is a critical point (the crowd). Just like the Georgia game, you could see the Navy QB audible-ing repeatedly with no apparent effort. The “Tron had been helping this year, but thanks to your comment I see the issue.

KG
KG

Perfect game to open with three straight throws from a QB who can’t pass!

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

How about those brown cleats!

More Noise
More Noise

Julian Love said he liked them. They had a little more give, but looked great. he thought.

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

Has a QB ever improved over a season (or over multiple seasons) under Kelly?

nd09hls12
nd09hls12