Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 12, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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36 NOV. 12, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: NAVY BY TODD D. BURLAGE NAVY RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Using its familiar triple-option offense, the Mid- shipmen headed into its game at Cincinnati in Week 10 ranked first in the American Athletic Con- ference and seventh nationally in rushing offense with 244.5 yards per game. Yet, it was tied for only 101st in scoring offense (23.4 points per game). And while holding down the No. 7 spot nationally in rushing is impressive, Navy is more accustomed to being first or second in the category, and it's 3-5 record to start the season showed it. Its rushing av- erage is about 50 yards fewer that what's expected from a Navy offense every year. Sophomore fullback Daba Fofana led Navy in carries (132) and rushing yards (488) through eight games, and he also was tied for the team lead with 5 rushing touchdowns. Sophomore slotback Maquel Haywood added 49.3 rushing yards per game with a robust 6.5 yards per carry. Junior quarterback Tai Lavatai contributed 309 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground before go- ing down with a season-ending knee injury against Temple Oct. 29. For Notre Dame, it entered the Clemson game Nov. 5, showing steady and marked improvement in this category. After holding Syracuse to a sea- son-low 61 rushing yards Oct. 29 — which was 118.3 yards below its previous 179.3 average — Notre Dame ranked No. 51 nationally in rushing defense (129.6 yards allowed per game). With 12 tackles in the two wins against UNLV and Syracuse, senior linebacker JD Bertrand had pulled away for the team lead with 48 tackles, (4.5 for loss). Advantage: Navy NAVY PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE For a team that runs the ball on about 85 percent of its plays and generates 70 percent of its offense on the ground, there is never much to report in this category. Lavatai — who averaged only 98.1 passing yards in eight games — completed just 46.2 percent of his passes with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Junior Xavier Arline, who will step in as the starter with Lavatai out, is 0-of-4 passing with 1 intercep- tion in five games played this season. Considering the Midshipmen ranked 128th na- tionally in passing offense and complete barely 5 passes a game through Week 9, junior wide receiver Jayden Umbarger is having a respectable season. Heading into Week 10, he led the team with 15 receptions for 262 yards and 2 touchdown catches. After recording only 1 interception in its first seven games, Notre Dame picked off a pair of passes against Syracuse. On PaPer Sophomore slotback Maquel Haywood is Navy's second-leading rusher with 394 yards and led the team with an average of 6.5 yards per carry through eight games. PHOTO BY PHIL HOFFMANN/COURTESY NAVY

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