Thursday, October 21, 2010
What to watch: Notre Dame, Week 8
By Brian Bennett
What to watch from Notre Dame in the Irish's game against Navy on Saturday from new Meadowlands Stadium:
1. Irish eyes on the assignment: Defending the triple option requires major discipline. Players have to read their keys, stay at home on their assignments and not try to do too much (and watch out for being cut-blocked). Obviously, Notre Dame hasn't fared too well at this against Navy in the recent past. The Midshipmen ran for 348 yards during last year's win in South Bend. The Irish run defense has been surprisingly strong the last few weeks. Saturday brings a whole new challenge, and the linebackers in the 3-4 alignment must be on point.
2. Here's the catch: Notre Dame's biggest issue this week is its receiving unit. Second-leading pass-catcher Theo Riddick is out with an ankle injury and will be replaced by freshman T.J. Jones. Michael Floyd (hamstring) says he will play but he may be very limited. With Kyle Rudolph out, Tyler Eifert and Mike Ragone need to continue contributing at tight end. Duval Kamara and John Goodman also must step up. Navy's ball control means fewer offensive opportunities for the Irish, and they can't afford to sputter in their possessions. Remember, too, that the wind can swirl at new Meadowlands Stadium, creating further potential problems for Dayne Crist and the passing game.
3. The red zone: Turnovers in the red zone led to Notre Dame's demise in last year's game. Earlier this season, Navy lost to Maryland after repeated turnovers and blown opportunities near the Terrapins' goal line. In a game like this, where the clock will be running a lot because of the running game, every red zone trip becomes more important. The team that converts more of its chances into seven points could be the one happily singing its alma mater at the end of the day.