Notre Dame is missing key players vs. Navy
The Notre Dame team that will face Navy on Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, will bear little resemblance to the squad that rolled the Midshipmen, 56-14, 10 months ago. Graduation, suspensions and injuries have eliminated many of the big-name players who dominated the Mids last year in South Bend.
But Navy isn't buying in to the notion of a weakened Notre Dame.
"It's still the Fighting Irish, and we're playing them in Ireland," senior linebacker Brye French said.
|Navy vs. Notre Dame|
|Where » Aviva Stadium,|
|When » Saturday, 9 a.m.|
|TV » CBS|
|Bo Snelson and Brye French were elected co-captains last spring, but their duties were stripped because of an unspecified violation. Replacing them as game captains Saturday will be slotback Gee Gee Greene (offense) and safety Tra'ves Bush (defense). Coach Ken Niumatalolo said wideout Brandon Turner will not make the trip but will return for the Sept. 15 game at Penn State.|
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo has imbued in his Mids a sense of their physical limitations and the need to play disciplined, precision football. Notre Dame, which went 8-5 last year, still recruits on a different level. Its front-line reserves would be stars at Navy.
So the Mids will try to forget about the suspensions of quarterback Tommy Rees, who went 16 of 22 for 237 yards last year, and running back Cierre Wood, who rushed for 1,102 yards last fall. They'll also disregard the departure of wideout Michael Floyd, who was drafted No. ?13 overall by the Arizona Cardinals and caught six passes for 121 yards against Navy.
Navy senior slot back Bo Snelson used a baseball analogy, comparing Notre Dame's missing players to Wally Pipp and the Irish backups to Lou Gehrig, the famed New York Yankees ironman who played 2,130 consecutive games once he got his chance.
"Wally Pipp sat that one game, and he never saw the field again," Snelson said. "Who knows what those other backups have, those guys who have been waiting for their shot. They might really come in and capitalize. It's their opportunity."
One of those Irish players who hopes this game catapults his career is redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson, a highly acclaimed talent from Myrtle Beach, S.C. Golson, a dynamic runner, was expected to compete for playing time last year but struggled with the transition to college. Golson has a tough assignment against a Navy defense that tries to limit big plays and force teams to play patiently.
"He's going to make some mistakes, and we know that and we are going to have to obviously try to overcome those," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters on Tuesday. "But it's those poor decisions that we have to eradicate."
At Navy, junior quarterback Trey Miller has had an outstanding preseason. Already a strong thrower, Miller has improved his decision-making in the triple-option offense and appears ready to employ his quick feet. He will go against a Notre Dame defense missing cornerback Lo Wood (ruptured Achilles), end Justin Utupo (suspension) and linebackers Danny Spond (migraines) and Carlo Calabrese (suspension).
"Notre Dame is always a good football team," Miller said. "We can't go out there thinking anything else."