Notre Dame Football: Is Navy's Style of Play Biggest Threat to Irish?

Collin O'Connor@@BarkofhinklehhrCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2010

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 15:  Corey James #24 of the Navy Midshipmen returns a punt past Steve Filer #46 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on November 15, 2008 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Notre Dame defeated Navy 27-21.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The stomping of Western Michigan came and went with satisfaction, but not really a lot to be excited about. So, as the week progresses, thoughts will shift to the battle against Navy next Saturday, a team who plays a much different game than any other opponent for the Irish so far this season.

I hate to mention it, but last year's game against Navy was a huge disappointment for this Irish team. That loss made it two straight against Navy at Notre Dame Stadium, something that hasn't happened in what seems like forever.

After losing to the Midshipmen back in 2007 and again last season, it's important for Brian Kelly to prove to the Irish fans that those times are over.

I understand that this is a rebuilding year, but an Irish team full of 4 and 5-star recruits should never lose to Navy or Army. However, the triple-option style that they play has been a struggle to defend for the Notre Dame defense.

In last season's loss, Ricky Dobbs only had to throw the ball three times, and only completed two of those passes. With that said, though, his two completions added up to a total of 57 yards.

His running game, however, was what really led the Midshipmen to a victory. He rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown in 31 attempts. The Midshipmen as a whole out-rushed Notre Dame by a huge margin. Navy racked up 348 yards while the Irish were held to just 60. It is worth noting that Armando Allen missed the game, though.

The defense next week will be the key in bringing home a victory. Dayne Crist will continue to build on his performances, and continue to improve, but if the defense allows over 300 yards rushing again, don't expect a win.

Another key asset will be to control the ball. Navy is seventh in the country in average time of possession at over 33 minutes a game. Notre Dame is ranked 112th in the nation with a 26-minute average.

If they plan to win, though, they can't let Navy do that. The defense will definitely become fatigued and allow another big game from Dobbs and company if they are on the field for that much time.

So, control of the ball will be a huge key for Brian Kelly and his offense to avoid the third loss to Navy in four games. If that happens, you can almost guarantee Knute Rockne will be turning in his grave.