Game Observations: Notre Dame Offense Up and Down in Victory Over Navy

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Notre Dame (7-3) had an outstanding first-half performance against Navy, but that was followed by brutally poor final two quarters. Here is my performance analysis.

*** Notre Dame OC Tommy Ree did a good job of starting the passing game in the first half. Rees used a good mix of play action, bootlegs, RPO and a few throwbacks to send the ball wide. The problem is, in the second half, Navy adjusted and brought a lot more pressure to the edges, but Rees didn’t adjust. Navy was sacked after sack on Notre Dame, but the Irish refused to call a screen, a quick throw or anything else that would make Navy pay for their aggression.

*** The attack went from brilliant in the first half to as bad as we’ve seen all season in the second half. Notre Dame racked up 323 yards in the first half but only had 16 in the second half. I’ll have to go back and break down the movie to see if Notre Dame made any tweaks that didn’t work, or if they just weren’t tweaked. Anyway, the attack was catastrophic in the second half.

*** Navy has a good rushing defense, but Notre Dame didn’t help themselves with the game plan or the execution. The line wasn’t pushed much, but the racing game lacked any kind of nuance or creativity. Duo was overused in this game, and we didn’t see the area, meter, outside mix in this game that was needed to make Navy pay for being so box-centric. Notre Dame simply tried to regurgitate a watered down version of the ground attack we saw last week, but the Navy was ready for it.

*** I was quite frankly shocked that we didn’t see empty screens and throws in the back in the second half with how much Navy was loading the box and bringing edge pressure in the final two quarters.

*** Notre Dame fullbacks had very little room to run, so it’s hard to really hammer them too hard for the lack of running game production. What we can blame them for is poor pass protection. Both Logan Digg and Audric Esteem had bad misses in pass protection in the game.

*** While the offensive line had its own issues in the running game, blocking tight ends also struggled, especially in sophomore Mitchell Evans.

*** Quarterback Drew Pyne had the best half of his career and the worst half of his career….all in the same game. Part of it was on him, absolutely, and part of it was the failure of the staff to give him second-half stuff that attacked the Navy’s aggression. When given chances, Pyne was unable or unwilling to pull the trigger and get the ball out.

**** In the first half, Pyne completed 14-16 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns. He also kept a bootleg for a score, and the junior accounted for all five Notre Dame touchdowns in the game. He showed composure, moved through his progressions well, attacked midfield and he showed he could get the ball across the pitch. He was also very good on third downs in the first half, especially third and long situations.

*** In the second half, Pyne looked to lock in the reads, he held the ball too long and he failed to recognize where the pressures were coming from. Most of the sacks in the second half were committed by defenders that the protection system could not take into account. Pyne had to recognize it and get the ball out quickly. By not doing so, he took too many bags.

*** All the growth we saw from Pyne in the first half, which was exceptional, evaporated in the second half. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a drastically different half-to-half performance in a game from both a forward and a quarterback in my life.

*** Notre Dame’s wide passes were great in the game. When given the chance in the first half, they made a lot of plays. In the second half, they didn’t have the same opportunities and production dropped. Both Jayden Thomas (3 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD) and Braden Lenzy (5 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD) were great in the first half, and Deion Colzie contributed with 2 catches for 50 yards, both converting thirds and longs.

*** One area I want to see Pyne improve in, and it’s been a problem for the past few weeks, is throwing the ball at checks. He forced a ball in the middle to Jayden Thomas in the red zone, but if he hits Esteem during a control, he has plenty of room to run. This is often true.

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*** I’ll have to watch the movie to see the offensive line issues. One thing was obvious, the inside offensive line was having a hard time dealing with the quickness and movement of Navy, who was capable of stoning inside the line and creating negatives throughout the game.

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Content of the Irish breakdown

Notre Dame List 2022
Schedule Notre-Dame 2022

Notre Dame 2023 Class Big Board
Notre Dame 2023 Commits Board – Offense
Notre Dame 2023 Commits Board – Defense

Notre Dame Scholarship Offers 2023
Notre Dame Scholarship Offers 2024

Ranking of signatories 2022 – Attack
Ranking of signatories 2022 – Defense

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