Notre Dame aims for decisiveness against Navy in Florida
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wants the Fighting Irish to trust themselves against Navy in their game in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kelly believes indecisiveness has hurt the Irish (3-5) in a variety of ways. He says at times players haven't trusted their talents, what they've been taught and sometimes haven't trusted teammates.
''So we talk about that openly as really a piece that still needs to grow within our football team. Some of that is just inexperienced players that have to trust in those three areas, and we just have to continue to work on those and be pretty transparent in talking about those things on a day-to-day basis,'' he said.
Kelly, who may have set the tone when he couldn't decide on a starting quarterback to begin the season, pointed to the poor play on special teams against Miami. C.J. Sanders' failed to run up and catch a punt that bounced and led to Miami's first touchdown.
''He's a talented football player and he needs to trust his talents,'' Kelly said. ''When you trust your talents, you won't be indecisive. You'll go up and get that football, and you won't suffer the consequences - and our team won't suffer the consequences.''
The Irish head into the annual game with a losing record for the first time since 2007, when Navy won 46-44 in triple overtime to end Notre Dame's NCAA-record winning streak against the Midshipmen at 43 games. The Irish had 1-7 record heading into that game. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo believes the Irish are better than their record.
''Not one of their better years, but they're still Notre Dame and still really good,'' he said. ''It's going to be a tough game for us.''
The Midshipmen (5-2) were ranked No. 22 until losing 52-45 to South Florida , although they rallied back from a 42-14 deficit. Niumatalolo hopes the Midshipmen can rebound like they did following a 28-14 loss to Air Force on Saturday, when they shocked then sixth-ranked Houston 46-40.
''We tell them the same thing; whether you win or lose you've got to move on. Hopefully, they'll bounce back,'' he said.
Other things to know about the Notre Dame-Navy:
LOSING RECORD: Notre Dame is 8-5 all-time vs. Navy when it has a losing record and 3-4 when it has a losing record and the Midshipmen have a winning record.
SCORING DROUGHTS: Opponents have gone on scoring binges against the Irish. Texas scored 17 straight points, Michigan State 36, Duke 21, Stanford 17 and Miami 27. Kelly said the key to stopping such runs is a consistent running game.
''That's why we run hot and cold at times offensively, because we haven't established the consistency at running the football,'' he said.
THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS: South Florida converted on its first 12 third-down chances against Navy. ''We're looking at some things schematically, personnel-wise, things we can do to improve on that,'' Niumatalolo said. ''Tackling in the open field is definitely an issue.''
Navy is the seventh worst team in the nation on stopping opponents on third down, succeeding only 48.1 percent of the time. The Irish offense ranks 96th on third down conversions, succeeding on 36 percent of their chances.
CHANGE OF VENUE: Jacksonville is the eighth American city besides South Bend where Notre Dame has faced Navy. It's played the Midshipmen in Baltimore (22 times), Chicago (1), Cleveland (11), East Rutherford, New Jersey (12), Landover, Maryland (1), Orlando (3) and Philadelphia (3). The two teams also have played twice in Dublin, Ireland. In 2018, they will play in San Diego and in 2020 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford . They've never played in Annapolis.
HOMEWARD BOUND: Thirteen Navy players and 11 on Notre Dame are from Florida.
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