There was a lot of good verbiage from the post-game, so, I thought I'd provide a quick update before writing for print. Basically, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly credited Navy's Ken Niumatalolo for adjusting his triple-option to something closer to the old "Veer" offense that long-ago Houston coach Bill Yeomans ran, offering that as the reason for allowing Midshipmen fullback Alexander Teich, who never had rushed for 100 yards to gain 206 on 26 carries in Navy's 35-17 win.
"They were in an imablance over our [defensive] tackle," Kelly said. "They stressed the tackle so they can get the 'Veer' on your linebacker. We tried to make adjustmenst on the fly. I give them credit for executing a scheme they hadn't run. My hat's off to coach Ken and his staff."
At the same time, Kelly admitted his team simply didn't win the one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On the opening drive of the game, the Irish advanced to a fourth-and-goal inside Navy's 1-yard line, and quarterback Dayne Crist was stopped short of the goal line. That set the physical tone.
"We drove downfield to start the game and can't punch it in from the 1-yard line," Kelly said. "We outman them by an average of 70 pounds up front. If you can't get a foot, you get what you deserve…If you can't punch it in from the one-foot line with the guys upfront and a 230-pound quarterback, that says a lot right there."
It sure did. Navy then took over, and on third-and-1 from its 10-yard line, Teich broke through the middle and went 54 yards. He completed the 99-yard drive with an athletic one-handed catch of a screen pass from quarterback Ricky Dobbs and then went airborne at the goal line to convert the 31-yard TD.
Kelly said he knows there will be plenty of criticism to go around, but he believes in his coaching staff. "Defensively, we didn't have the answers today, but we've had the answers all year," Kelly said, seemingly ignoring the 33 points per game the Irish gave up in their previous three losses. "I've got smart, dedicated coaches. They're not dummies.
"You can all write what you want. The first thing I'd look at is, 'Shoot, the basic fundamental is to stop the fullback. Well, he had 200 yards today, and I don't have a bunch of dummies on my staff.' You can write what you want. My guys didn't have the plan today. We've got to go back and look at the plan, and if we have to change the plan moving forward, we're going to change the plan. But we're going to get it right."
After Kelly's comments about the new scheme Navy ran were repeated to him, Teich maintained it wasn't all that different from what the Middies had run the past three weeks. He attributed Navy's dominance to pure execution and desire. "I knew in the locker room before the game," he said. "You could tell on the bus on the way over from the hotel that everybody was locked in."
Pressed later about what he felt his role would be coming into the game, Teich said, "We knew the fullback would have a big day. If we could get them blocked up front, we knew we'd have some chances to break some big runs, and we did and that was the outcome. I don't think we changed up much from the last three weeks. I know we came out and just executed. It's not about me; it's about the guys upfront."
So, it really was about physically whipping a bigger Notre Dame defense. "Yes, sir," Midshipman Teich said.