Final Notre Dame 35 – Navy 33
Following the season climax that was the Clemson game, one could think that Notre Dame football was due to come out flat following that inspired performance. How would Marcus Freeman be able to bring back the same intensity the team brought into its matchup with Clemson? Was Navy going to be able to stop Notre Dame’s dominant run game? All I can say following this game is… thank Christ we got out of there in time.
After handling business and carrying a bit of momentum into the first half Notre Dame began to go off the rails in the 2nd half. I don’t even know what happened. The Irish were out scored 19-0 in the second half. The Notre Dame offensive line allowed 5 sacks in the second half alone. Navy looked to blitz all day and the Fighting Irish had no answer. Credit to Navy for shutting down Notre Dame’s impressive run game.
What the heck happened at halftime? What caused the Irish to come out so complacent and meek in the second half? I am not in the locker room I couldn’t tell you. But while Navy adjusted at halftime, committing to the blitz, the Irish didn’t seek to make any adjustments and just seemed to lose all will to execute.
Both the Irish offense and the Irish defense were nowhere to be found in the second half. While Navy was blitzing the house in the second half Notre Dame was unable to adjust accordingly and get the ball out quick enough to string drives together.
Even with that abysmal second half, I was happy to see receivers get a few receptions in this first one. Jayden Thomas led the receivers with 3 catches for 80 yards. While I would usually be over the moon with a 4 TD, 1 INT Drew Pyne stat line, the drastic drop off of play team wide in the second half still leaves so much to be desired. While it is always good to get the win, this was potentially the most devastating loss in the Freeman era. Which would have ultimately decimated any confidence that Marcus gained by beating Dabo and the Tigers.
It was pretty ironic to see the Fighting Irish have a potential catch of the year play. After leaving much to be desired in the air game all season, Braden Lenzy made a phenomenal grab. This play took a level of concentration and focus to retain his composure and finish the play through. Our receivers are all athletes. While they haven’t been able to show it off much, we still get top recruits there. If we could get someone to toss them a true ball consistently they would be able to exhibit that skill. It just isn’t there right now.
The special teams unit was able to display why they are the single most feared unit again this week with another block. Making it 7 in 6 games. 7 blocked punts in 6 games in a ludicrous stat. Just an absolutely punishing unit who know team has been not been stopped from making a game turning, emotion altering blocked punt. The audacity to think that 7 blocked punts in 6 games was even possible is ludicrous in and of itself. Over the last 5 ball games Notre Dame is blocking over 23% of opponents punts. Yet, the Irish special teams are performing at that clip.
This game was extremely frustrating. Abysmal second halves like that are that much more glaring when our team looked as good as they did in the first. They came out with a fire, what caused that fire to be extinguished before taking the field for the third quarter, I couldn’t tell you.
The high have been high, and the lows have been low, whether it’s motivation, attitude, execution, whatever the case Notre Dame currently sits at 7-3. A respectable record for any side, Notre Dame has salvaged something positive from a season that so many fans have thought was on fire at various points in this season. While most programs would look at a 7-3 record fondly, we just don’t in South Bend. While it is better than I had maybe expected to be sitting at this point following Notre Dame’s more embarrassing losses, we can not afford to lose these games we should win handedly. Credit to Navy for nearly pulling off the upset, but letting up on weaker opponents like this is often times the bane of championship caliber rosters. Notre Dame has already let up on weaker opponents time and time again this season, that is an identity issue. The Irish can’t afford to carry that bad habit into next season if hopes at a CFP spot are on the table.
Thank you for taking the time to read these short thoughts of one Irish fan. Sorry if it was a little bit all over the place, this game was a little bit all over the place.Have a great week Notre Dame fans. Enjoy the win. On to BC.
Play like an absolute champ,