Sam Hartman makes his Notre Dame debut in Ireland as the No. 13 Fighting Irish take the fight to Navy.
The Midshipmen bring a new coach and mindset to Dublin, promising to stretch beyond the throwback option offense and use athletes in new ways.
Notre Dame has won the two meetings between programs in Ireland, 54-27 in 1996 and 50-10 in 2012.
This game was rescheduled from its original date in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
—Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET
—Location: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
—Point Spread: Notre Dame (-20.5)
Some novelty travels with Navy across the pond to Ireland with a new head coach and offensive coordinator promising to expand beyond the triple-option base to push the ball downfield. But the element of surprise is lost when an opponent has the entire offseason to prep and study tendencies of the coaching staff and personnel.
Notre Dame calibrated the offense with Hartman at the controls following his record-setting career at Wake Forest. One of the best offensive line groups in the nation could make life easy for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame was an 18.5-point favorite when the game opened at Circa and has risen to 20.5 points.
Our Pick: Notre Dame 41, Navy 16
Following a 9-4 season in his first as head coach at Notre Dame, Marcus Freeman went out and found a pillar at the quarterback spot.
Hartman arrives with great fanfare after setting the ACC record with 110 touchdown passes and two bowl wins at Wake Forest in three seasons as their starting quarterback. The 24-year-old represents the stabilizer Freeman said he needed.
“There’s no substitution for experience. None,” Freeman said. “I don’t care if you’re the head coach or the quarterback. That’s what gives me confidence in Sam Hartman. There’s nothing that’s going to be able to make him too high or too low. He’s thrown interceptions. He’s made bad decisions. He’s made great plays and long touchdown throws. He knows what to expect. That’s the No. 1 thing he brings, but he also makes those guys around him better.”
A deep stable of running backs and a prospect-laden offense line might make Hartman’s evening easier (the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. local time).
Not knowing exactly what to expect from the offense brings a new wrinkle for the Fighting Irish defense.
First-year head coach Brian Newberry wants Navy to feature the disciplined and methodical approach the program is known for historically, but understands the need to stretch defenses and achieve better balance.
The Midshipmen spent part of spring practice working exclusively on shotgun looks that can be used for run or pass plays and even employed multiple-receiver packages. This might not get spread offense devotees excited, but Newberry believes the changes are for the better.
“We want to get off to a fast start,” Newberry said. “It’s hard to simulate what we do in practice. It’s hard enough to simulate what we do schematically, it’s even harder to simulate the speed at which we do it.”
THEY SAID IT
“It’s a very important game for us to show what we’re about. A new team, a new offense, the mentality that we have, and come out not scared of anybody. Respect ‘em, but not scared to play anybody, and I think it’s going to be a really fun game to be a part of and to watch.”
— Navy QB Tai Lavatai
Notre Dame’s No. 1 wide receiver Tobias Merriweather had one reception last season. Navy’s leading returning receiver, captain Jayden Umbarger, had 16 catches in 2022.
The market projects a Notre Dame win and plenty of points. And if the plot plays out as bookmakers anticipate, Navy will find itself in the uncomfortable position of using triple-option personnel to executive repeated forward pass plays.
Enter Notre Dame’s ballhawking secondary, perched behind a strong pass rush, and we’re taking the Fighting Irish defense to score a TD (+420) as our prop of the game.
—Field Level Media
Original source here
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