NOVEMBER 6, 2021: Notre Dame Fighting Irish v. Navy Midshipmen
ANCHORS AWAY, MY BOYS,
FAREWELL TO FOREIGN SHORES,
WE SAIL AT BREAK OF DAY-AY-AY-AY-AY.
1963 NAVY FOOTBALL AT ITS ZENITH
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AND NOW A LITTLE FAST FORWARDING TO THE OPENING GAME OF THE 2023 SEASON TO BE CONTESTED WITH NAVY . . . . .
. . . . . . IN DUBLIN, IRELAND’S AVIVA STADIUM.
MIGHT A PUB OR TWO MAKE THE ITINERARY?
NOVEMBER 6, 2021
Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Ken Niumatalolo brings the Midshipmen to Notre Dame Stadium for the renewel of Notre Dame’s longest consecutive rivalry having played every year since 1927 except for the Irish COVID-triggered, one-year 2020 venture to the ACC. This is Niumatalolo’s 14th season at the Navy helm. He enjoys a 101-67 record that includes 3 wins over the Irish, a Navy record he shares with Eddie Erdelatz, with two of those wins in consecutive seasons, being one of only 3 Navy coaches to have achieved that success, the others being the aforementioned Erdelatz and Wayne Hardin. Niumatalolo has guided the Midshipmen to 10 post-season bowl games.
Our cover today provides some of the words to the Navy Fight Song with a picture of three key components of the 1963 Navy victory over the Irish. That Navy victory was the last over the Irish for 43 years until Navy prevailed in 2007, a game that went into a third overtime with Navy stopping an Irish running play on the required 2-point conversion attempt starting at just the 1 1/2 yard line by virtue of a Navy penalty. That game gave the Irish a record of 1-8, a fact that might explain Irish Coach Charlie Weis’ glum visage and soon to be “positioned to pursue other opportunities”.
With a less than scintillating 2-6 record coming into the 2021 game, one might expect an Irish “blow-out” BUT, the Middies defeated Tulsa 20-17 on the road in its last game and the one before that was against an Irish common opponent, the Cincinnati Bearcats. While Navy lost 27-20, the result was uncertain until an interception with 25 seconds remaining. Cincinnati lead 27-10 entering the 4th quarter and after Navy scored late, the Middies recovered an onside kick with just a minute to go. Without the interception, who knows what happens? And if Navy had scored a touchdown, any Cincinnati fan would have “been shivering in m’ timbers” for fear the Middies would try a running play for 2 points and the win. It says here that any Irish fan will “be shivering in m’ timbers” if that scenario appears near the end of the Irish/Middies game.
Due to its “all hands on deck” triple option rushing attack, Navy often leads the NCAA in running the ball averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground. This element has slowed in 2021, as it is “knot” the same averaging only 222.5 yards per game. But that has “knot” kept the Middies from considering nearly the entire field as “4-down territory”. When they “go-for-it” on 4th down, they have converted nearly 65 % of their 28 attempts this season.
Much to the chagrin of the Irish faithful, Coach Freeman’s defense has been susceptible to the “big” play. Navy has has some “big” running plays with Carlinos Acie (#25) sailing away on a 60-yarder and Xavier Arline (#7) “taking flight” for a 40-yard cruise. With one more in his name, Xavier would have been a “Top Gun” candidate for the Air Force Academy, do you “knot” think?
It is now time to announce from the “bridge”:
“NOW HEAR THIS!”
The Midshipmen will bring all they have to this game, and the Irish defense, too, must have “all hands on deck”. With the Irish defense “shipshape” from its Navy preparation which started in the Spring, and with Marcus calling the shots from the “bridge”, the Irish defense will display a “yeoman” effort. It is by no means going “overboard” to say that the Navy running game will often head a “stern”, eventually culminating in their visit to “Davey Jones Locker”.
If the unfathomable happens and the Irish were to lose, there might be a “brigade” of ND Coaches headed to the “brig”, or at least one “fathom” on their way to the aforementioned “Davey Jones Locker”.
But, not to fear, the Irish coaches are no “Pollywogs”, having crossed with the Navy offense many times.
The general consensus is that the Irish O-line is coming together. There may be many reasons. More experience playing together. Better “coaching up”. Addition of more size on the left side. Less skilled opponents. The uptempo offense. Just #23 Kyren, baby, just #23 Kyren!!!!
This writer attributes it to the “Three Finger Salute”. Huh? Perhaps alanine aminotransferase. Huh? Or could it be a task manager or security related component that facilitates ending a Windows session or killing a frozen application? Huh? How about 6’ 8” and 305 lbs? Huh? The answer to each “Huh” is the same:
True Freshman Joe Alt (#78 & #45), a high school tight end, was inserted at left tackle following injuries to another true Freshman, Blake Fisher, plus upperclassmen, Tosh Baker and Michael Carmody.
and . . .
Here as an Irish tight end (#45)!! I guess that actually makes ALT an ALT!!
While we would certainly still like to see that $10 bill
in the defense rather that on the sideline, unfortunately that is not to be. Nonetheless, the Irish defense will “batten down the hatches" and limit the Navy’s scoring opportunites.
As for the Irish offense, we call out these numbers:
Under the B, #12
Under the I, #16
Under the I, #17
Under the I, #21
Under the I, #23,
Under the N, #39
While that draw will not get you a BINGO, that draw will get the Irish a win, but that is better anyway. And take a peek at those numbers now.
Book to Buchner, still in the B’s.
Not yet a “Neon-Deon”, he is just beginning to light it up!
Who would have thought Coan could gallop like a gazelle?
And he is only a freshman!!
23 for 199 v. NC
For cryin’ out loud!
We do not want it to come down to this guy, but if it does, we want Doerer to do her!!
Now read on for the prediction …….
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Here is your Irish Trivia Question for this week.
Take a look at the 1963 picture on the cover. Can you name the three individuals pictured? One, of course, was the Coach. One wanted to go to Notre Dame but by the time the Irish offered, he had committed to the Naval Academy. One was a future Heisman Trophy winner. One rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. One became the Superintendent of the Naval Academy. One had a brother who captained the Irish at a time when the Irish had only one captain? Okay, okay, okay. There are more clues than the number of persons pictures. Some clues obviously describe the same person. Good luck.
Here is your Irish Trivia Answer from last week. Brian Kelly now holds the record for the most wins by an Irish Football Head Coach. Who did the Irish defeat for Kelly’s first Irish Victory? Purdue Boilermakers 23-12
Which leads us to how we always close . . . . . ..
And, our hearts forever . . .