Saturday, September 1, 2012
Instant Analysis: Notre Dame 50, Navy 10
By Matt Fortuna
The Everett Golson era got off to a great start Saturday for Notre Dame, which dominated Navy in a 50-10 season-opening win at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Golson completed 12 of 18 passes for 144 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Let's take a closer look at how it happened:
It was over when: Theo Riddick rushed for an 11-yard touchdown to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive over 5:48. Nick Tausch's missed extra point was the only flaw for the Irish, who, unlike last season, completed a stellar opening drive and established their dominance early.
Game ball goes to: Starting in place of suspended Cierre Wood, Riddick rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, adding two catches for 25 yards. George Atkinson III added 99 yards and two TDs on just nine carries.
Stat of the game: Notre Dame outrushing Navy 293 to 149 certainly stands out, but the Midshipmen throwing for 192 might be more surprising, given the history of their ground game.
Unsung hero of the game: Stephon Tuitt had a sack and, in the play of the game, returned a Trey Miller fumble 77 yards. No one came within sight of the 303-pound defensive end, who made it 27-0 in the second quarter. Manti Te'o added a fumble recovery and an interception, both of which, surprisingly enough, were firsts for the senior linebacker.
Second-guessing: Golson will want back a second-quarter telegraphed throw to Tyler Eifert, which was picked off at the 4 by Parrish Gaines. It brought back bad red zone memories from a year ago. Still, better to get such gaffes out of the way early in a blowout.
What it means: Notre Dame couldn't ask for much more, as it took care of business and eliminated any doubt early. Golson looked good in his debut despite the interception. The Irish absolutely dominated in the trenches, and everyone got involved: From Dan McCarthy (fumble recovery) to Robby Toma (9-yard touchdown rush). Big questions remain at cornerback, with KeiVarae Russell at times looking like the true freshman he is, but it will be an enjoyable flight back to the States for Notre Dame.