As many have been quick to point out, Notre Dame’s 50-10 season-opening win over Navy was not all gravy as the score might suggest. While Notre Dame successfully shut down the Midshipmen triple option attack, limiting them to just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt, the Irish also saw the secondary exposed by a normally weak Navy passing game.
That Navy would attack the Notre Dame secondary comes as no surprise. The Irish started freshman KeiVarae Russell and first-time starter Bennett Jackson at cornerback on Saturday. Navy passed an uncharacteristic 20 times and completed 16 of those attempts for 192 yards—just five less than Notre Dame.
"I think they made some good plays,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “Again, there was some opportunities to make some plays, but clearly (Navy) wanted to throw the football on that first drive and were able to attack a couple of our coverages.”
Kelly went on to praise the team’s ability to adjust to Navy’s suddenly pass-happy attack.
“We made a great adjustment, I thought, and played cover 2. That's where Manti protected number three running down the middle of the field and came up with the interception. So I thought coach (Bob) Diaco and the staff did a nice job making an adjustment."
Kelly said the Navy pass attack also afforded the green Irish secondary much-needed reps in pass defense. Notre Dame faces a more traditionally pass-heavy team next Saturday when it hosts Purdue.
Boilermakers coach Danny Hope announced on his radio show Monday that Caleb TerBush will start against the Irish. Robert Marve got the start in Purdue's opener because TerBush was suspended for violation of undisclosed team rules.