Players to watch in Notre Dame's Senior Day game against Navy

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame 

QB Brandon Wimbush 

Wimbush needs a bounce-back game, and he might just get it on Saturday. Navy ranks 22nd nationally in passing efficiency defense. Wimbush — a 6-foot-2, 228-pound junior — completed just 10 of 21 passes with two interceptions and a lost fumble in the 41-8 road loss at Miami last weekend. Notre Dame has yet to develop a consistent passing game to complement its ferocious rushing attack, but Wimbush can get back on track with a positive performance on Senior Day in South Bend.

NG Jerry Tillery

Tillery struggled on a primetime stage last weekend, finishing with just three tackles and zero tackles for loss. On the season, Notre Dame’s 6-7, 306-pound junior nose guard owns 40 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and one forced fumble. A big element of slowing Navy’s triple-option offense is shutting down the fullback dive, and Tillery will be counted on to be disruptive on Saturday, especially after the Mids had their way with the Irish defense in Jacksonville, Fla., last season.

Navy

FB Anthony Gargiulo

Navy’s junior fullback broke out in last weekend’s 43-40 victory over SMU, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. With the quarterback situation uncertain because of an injury to the speedy Malcolm Perry, more of the load may be placed on Gargiulo’s massive shoulders on Saturday. Plus, remember: Notre Dame’s defense has allowed 476 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per carry in its last two games. The Irish will have their hands full with Gargiulo — a 6-2, 239-pound junior.

LB Micah Thomas 

Thomas is perhaps the Navy defense’s most consistent performer. The 6-1, 241-pound senior linebacker was named to the All-American Athletic Conference’s second team after leading his squad with 107 tackles last season. The three-year starter has 60 tackles, three interceptions, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble this season. Operating in the heart of the Navy defense, it’ll be Thomas’ job to chase down Notre Dame junior running back Josh Adams on Saturday. Don’t expect him to back down from that challenge.

Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery (99) takes down Southern California QB Sam Darnold (14) during ND's 49-14 rout on Oct. 21 at Notre Dame Stadium. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)