Five keys to the Notre Dame-Navy game

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune


Not long after the 33 Trucking hats were made available for sale, Josh Adams’ chances at winning the Heisman Trophy started to hit the skids. He was sidelined in the Wake Forest game for not “feeling right” and shut down by Miami’s defense in the blowout loss. He rushed for 62 total yards in the last two games. Adams had single running plays of at least 60 yards seven times in the first eight games. The Irish can move the ball without Adams, but they need him for the offense to be at its best.


Defending Navy’s triple option can be like solving the shell game on every play. The ball can end up three different places. What’s important for Notre Dame’s defense is to have all three options accounted for every time. So regardless of where the ball ends up, the defenders need to be in their assigned positions. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko has harped on fundamentals all season long. No offense will test those fundamentals more than Navy.


The destruction Miami dealt Notre Dame last week left little for an Irish player to feel good about. With two interceptions and one fumble, quarterback Brandon Wimbush will want to bury his performance at Hard Rock Stadium. He needs to rebound with some successful passes and rushes against Navy on Saturday. If the Irish are going to finish the season strong, Wimbush needs to inspire confidence with his play. Wimbush should be able to take advantage of a Navy defense that plays poorly against the pass and gives up scores regularly in the red zone.


Notre Dame’s special teams units haven’t made many big plays this season. Playing against Navy could give the Irish an opportunity to change that. The Midshipmen shouldn’t have as much depth as the Irish and that could show on punt or kickoff coverage. Can Chris Finke or C.J. Sanders get loose for a big return? The Irish are only averaging 4.76 yards per punt return (No. 107 in FBS) and 21.25 yards per kickoff return (No. 61).


Senior Days can bring a lot of emotions for players taking the field at Notre Dame Stadium for the final time. It can even become a distraction. Notre Dame doesn’t need any distractions with Navy coming to town. The Irish should be plenty motivated after losing to the Midshipmen last year. The seniors that helped turned Notre Dame’s program around following last season deserve one more win at home.

Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (33) runs the ball during the Notre Dame at Miami NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA