In the 2nd of 3 key games to get ready for Utah, Notre Dame faces a tougher opponent on the field than on paper. The Midshipmen play Notre Dame after having won 2 of the last 3 matchups and this weekend, the game at the New Meadowlands Stadium is the hottest college football in the land.
Earlier this week, I felt quite comfortable in thinking that the Irish could win this game by 6 point or more, as predicted by Vegas oddmakers. With Allen, Riddick, Rudolph and possibly Floyd out due to injuries, I feel more nervous than maybe I should be about the game.
Given that Dayne Crist has been able to practice at will with his new receivers due to the removal of 20 hours limit for practice time(Fall break week at ND therefore NCAA regulation for time of practice does not apply), I am enclined to move the offense from very suspect to prospect in this case. Should Floyd not be able to play - last reports put him as game time decision - Duval Kamara and Robby Toma will play catch with Dayne Crist on Saturday. While stats readers look at Kamara as an unproven player this year, let's not forget that he caught 23 passes from Jimmy Clausen for more than 200 yards last year in 8 games. He is a mature player, a senior, not your run of the mill inexperienced player. Given the chance, a real chance, Cierre Wood will electrify the offense and keep Navy on its heels.
Ricky Dobbs, Navy's quarterback has rushed for 380 yards this year, with one 100 yds game. Leveraging the triple option offense, he will be running in every hole the 3-4 defense shows him. If the Irish want to go 9-3, this is a statement game for the rush defense of Brian Kelly. To date, the Irish has not fared well against option offense, with Purdue and Michigan exposing early in the season, a porous 3-4 defense that ranks 89th in the land. The last 3 games of the Irish, have been more positive. Navy will be at home, they will be very disciplined and they will be patient.
Notre Dame needs to keep penalties to a minimum, unlike against Western Michigan. They need to protect the ball and with new receivers, to quote Dayne Crist himself, "need to take only what the defense gives him". If these first two elements are present and the defense can keep the Midshipmen to less than 100 yards of rushing, Notre Dame will win. It won't be pretty, but the result should be a win at the end of the game. A close game, won by Notre Dame27-24. As always, thoughts, comments, critics welcome. Go Irish.