Navy matched up better against ND than it did against Delaware, for a couple reasons.
1. Delaware has a pro QB; scouts from at least 12 NFL teams have gone to watch the kid practice. It’s one thing to send scouts to a I-AA game, but these guys aren’t going to Newark, Del., on a Wednesday afternoon unless they are serious about somebody. The QB put real pressure on Navy’s depleted secondary (the Mids were down to their fifth-string safety in that game).
2. Notre Dame’s strength is its defense. The offense is very ordinary. The Irish are starting their third QB this year, i.e. their third-string guy. They have very few playmakers on offense – they ran the ball 40-plus times against a small Navy defense on Saturday, but their longest run was 14 yards. No wonder they were so desperate to get Arrelious Benn, who spurned them for Illinois.
One other thing to consider: My theory has been that Navy’s defense is no different from a lot of other young defenses, especially those that have had some success in the past – namely, the players tend to pick their spots. They were a lot more lively for Air Force and the second half of Duke, i.e. name teams, than they were for Ball State and Delaware (two losses). So there’s no question they were going to show up big-time to play ND, which they did.
I’m afraid that Navy may have been like the rock band that trashes a hotel room, then leaves the bill for the next occupants. ND is going to be ready for AF. It should be an amazing game.