Notebook: LB Greer Martini specializes as Notre Dame's option ace
SOUTH BEND — Greer Martini wishes he could play a triple-option team every week.
The Notre Dame linebacker may not have a lot of company in that thought among his Irish teammates, but it’s little wonder why the sophomore linebacker feels that way.
Martini’s nine tackles Saturday helped 15th-ranked Notre Dame turn back Navy, 41-24, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, holding the Mids to a season-low 340 yards.
“I would love to be able to translate this into playing time against other teams we play,” said Martini, who has 26 tackles in his three starts against triple-options teams and 25 career tackles against everyone else in largely limited opportunities.
“Obviously, if I do get an opportunity, I’m going to play the same way I play against the option. But I feel like I could play, whether it’s spread or triple option or whatever.”
Martini said his high school team, Woodberry Forest (Va.) Academy, rarely faced option teams.
“I think I just got an opportunity to play against the triple-option here,” he said. “That was kind of like my thing that I was going to get on the field for, so I just became good at it.”
None of the Irish were good at it early on Saturday. It took Navy all of 74 seconds to move 70 yards in three plays for a 7-0 lead.
“No matter how well our scout offense team does — and they did a great job this week again — it’s still an adjustment for your eyes,” Martini said. “Navy runs it so much faster, executes it so much better, so I think that first series we just had to train our eyes and get ready for the speed of the game.
“After that we settled down and were ready to play a little bit better than we did the first series.”
It’s gotta be the shoes?
No, DeShone Kizer wasn’t feeling less sportsmanlike after halftime. The Notre Dame quarterback’s switch from the white shoes that matched Navy’s to his old gold ones was purely functional.
"The other ones were just hurting my feet,” he said. “They're brand new cleats. They brought them out for us this week. I didn't get them going as fast as I needed to get them going, so I threw on last week's cleats."
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly kept his word and gave junior safety Max Redfield the start Saturday against Navy.
But he didn’t finish — not even the first quarter, in fact. Redfield, who did not play against the other triple-option team on ND’s schedule this season, Georgia Tech on Sept. 19, was pulled in favor of graduate student Matthias Farley, the latter of whom finished with seven tackles.
“Well (Farley) and Max were going to be interchangeable for us,” Kelly said. “We just felt like we went with Matthias and we could have gone either way with that.
“We gave Max a chance to start and we wanted to see Matthias, too. And then as the game kind of unfolded, we just stayed with Matthias. But both of them practiced hard all week. It was really just probably a little bit of a preference with a veteran player more so than anything else.”
• Sophomore Alex Bars made his first collegiate start Saturday. He took Quenton Nelson’s spot at left guard. Nelson suffered a high ankle sprain Oct. 3 at Clemson.
Former Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack tossed the coin at the pregame coin toss. He was one of two former ND Heisman Trophy winners in attendance. Paul Hornung was the other.
• Navy came into the game having allowed one rushing TD all season. After Iowa allowed its first earlier Saturday against Illinois, Navy was among the teams tied for fewest rushing TD allowed nationally. The Mids gave up four on Saturday, three to C.J. Prosise and one to Kizer.
• Prosise also ran for three TDs against Georgia Tech three weeks ago. He joins Frank Lonergan (1902) and Reggie Brooks (1992) as the only running backs to have two three-rushing TD games for the Irish in the same season.
• Irish receiver Will Fuller’s second-quarter TD was the 23rd of his career, moving him into sole possession of fourth place on the ND all-time list and breaking the tie with Rhema McKnight (2002-06) and Derrick Mayes (1992-95).
• Notre Dame has outscored opponents, 65-13, in the third quarter after outscoring Navy 14-3 in Saturday’s third period. Under Kelly, Notre Dame has allowed just 3.34 points per third quarter, which ranks as the best in the FBS since 2010.