Usually, nothing good happens for Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish play Navy. A win is expected and a loss is a nightmare. Even close wins are frowned upon and they seem to have difficulty with the Midshipmen every year.
For a half on Saturday, it looked like more of the same. Navy tied the game at 21 with 24 seconds left in the second quarter and the Irish were frustrated.
But a 52-yard Justin Yoon field goal to close out the half and a Navy fumble on the second half kickoff that resulted in a Notre Dame touchdown set the tone for the rest of the day. The Irish are now 5-1 after the 41-24 win.
College Football Podcast: Week 6 Recap
Here are my five thoughts on Notre Dame.
1. Thankfully, the Irish Are Done With the Option
It is not easy to prepare for the option once during a season. The Irish had to do it twice, playing both Georgia Tech and Navy. It also is difficult preparing for the next opponent after playing an option team. The option is now behind them and with USC up next, the Irish should be prepared. While there are several different types of offenses remaining on ND’s schedule, none are as different as what Georgia Tech and Navy run. As a side note, though Tago Smith was effective for Navy, Notre Dame also is happy it will never have to play quarterback Keenan Reynolds ever again.
2. First Half Defensive Woes, Halftime Adjustments
In the past three games, Notre Dame has allowed 75 points. Fifty-five of those points have come in the first half. The Irish have not been totally prepared starting the recent games, but defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder has changed things up at halftime and has gotten better results. One adjustment this week was putting a bigger Jarrett Grace in at linebacker in place of James Onwualu in an effort to stop the fullback dive. While not perfect, the Irish defense was much better in the second half.
3. C.J. Prosise Finding the End Zone
Clemson bottled up Prosise pretty well, but he got back on track this week with 129 yards rushing on 21 carries. Perhaps even more impressive than the 779 yards he has on the season are the nine touchdowns that he has scored. The Petersburg, Va., native has shown a knack for getting in the end zone, something he did three times against Navy. Washington’s Myles Gaskin ran for 134 yards against USC on Thursday night, so expect Prosise to be featured prominently next week as well.
4. DeShone Kizer
Kizer was solid once again going 22-of-30 for 281 yards and a touchdown. He again had an awful pass that resulted in an interception, one that set up Navy’s tying touchdown. He also locks onto a receiver at times. But he has a strong arm and he is developing his accuracy every week. His progression is obviously critical for a Notre Dame team hoping to make a run in the second half of the season.
5. No One Was Injured
In most years, a key Notre Dame player gets hurt in the Navy game. Maybe the Irish have had bad luck in this area; maybe it’s something more. Regardless, Brian Kelly's team emerged injury free this year. Prosise had some bumps and bruises, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery came out of the game, and linebacker Greer Martini tweaked his knee. But all returned and they should be ready for next week.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.