Navy. The Midshipmen come into the game with a 6-3 record with a huge upset victory over then ranked #16 Wake Forest at Wake. The option attack is still in full swing at Navy, even after the departure of Paul Johnson. Navy has played one common opponent of the Irish in a 42-21 loss to Pitt. It's kind of nice for Irish fans and Navy players to hear a little more about the game instead of the respect angle. It's great and all to talk about the sacrifice's these Academy guys make, but it is patronizing to keep talking about it during the game. These guys are football players on a team that is a consistent winner and bowl invitee. Pay attention to the game. They are.
What should you be drinking? It's time to go all Pirate on these Midshipmen, so I suggest Peg Leg Stout from Clipper City Brewery located in Baltimore, Maryland. This is a Russian Imperial Stout, but actually drinks more like a porter. I found this review over at Beer Advocate from a poster named "Mitchster":
$1.80 for a 12oz bottle at Jacks. Brewed with English Pale, Crystal, ChocolateWhat should you be eating? When I think of Baltimore and food, I immediately gravitate towards an all time favorite of the Subway Domer... Crab Cakes. You can get real Maryland Crab Cakes anywhere in the country from a place called Angelina's of Maryland. they do an overnight service and after reading some of the reviews- I intend on doing this for the game Saturday. BTW- If you are in the Fort Wayne Indiana area, check out Dickey's Wild Hare or Lucky's Terrapin Tavern (both formerly known as Munchie Emporium Georgetown and Munchie Emporium Dupont respectively). They have some of the best crabcake sandwiches I have ever tasted. If you are going to the game in Baltimore, you can check out Dock of the Bay in Baltimore. Of course you can make them yourself, with a little help from this crazy broad:
malts, and Black Barley. Hopped with Fuggles and Styrian Goldings. 8.0% ABV.
Best By notched label. Bottle Conditioned.
Pours out to a clear dark
brown. Not as black as expected, nor as thick as expected. Forms a tall fine
dark tan head with good retention and lacing. Carbonation is moderate. The aroma
is composed of molasses, prune juice, milk chocolate, distant espresso, rotting
red apples, and plums. The mouthfeel is soft and very silky. Medium bodied, but
with a very full, smooth palette that makes it feel thicker than it really is.
Almost as smooth as a nitro tap. The taste is a recap of the aroma with a nice
bittersweet edge. Decidedly American in flavor, not British as anticipated by
the ingredients. There is a faint sourness which makes me think that this beer
would not store very well. Perhaps it's the green hoppy acidity. Well balanced.
As an imperial stout, this isn't very representative of the style. It's
rather mild for that, but overall, it's an excellent, very enjoyable beer. It's
not rich beyond compare, but it is well-balanced, smooth, easy to drink and full
flavored. I would certainly buy this one again.
Just remember this...
What freshman will make the biggest impact (besides Floyd)? I have to go with two guys that are on the same side of the ball. Ethan Johnson and Darius Flemming. Defending the option is such a disciplined affair that sometimes the biggest contributors are guys that rarely get their name called. The defensive tackle (E.J has been playing mostly at a DT) is the first option defensively. What they do decides whether the QB hands the ball off to the FB or pulls the ball and starts working his way down the line of scrimmage. Next is the defensive end, what they do (along with a linebacker) decides if the QB cuts up or continues to move along the line. I think ND will certainly try to stretch the field with the option and force late decisions. The two freshman can be key deciders in how this develops. This will be the first game this year where ND has a huge size advantage along their defensive line as compared to the opposing teams offensive line. What Navy has is discipline and speed. The freshman also have a lot of speed, but can they use their power to overwhelm the Navy front line and disrupt the options that Navy has. Watch these two.
What offensive player needs to step it up? Jimmy Clausen. After a 4 INT game, has to come out and fire on all cylinders. The Fighting Irish offense will have a limited number of possessions because Navy runs such a time consuming and ball control offense. They are a suspect when it comes to the deep ball as it showed in their 3 losses (Ball State, Duke, and Pitt). BSU and Duke both threw for over 300 yards while Pitt had McCoy, but still managed over 250 yards in the air. The Irish throw the deep ball well when Clausen is clicking. But, the biggest test for Jimmy will be his patience and how he reacts to the safeties rolling up on his WR's. He has to get a rhythm going with his underneath receivers such as Allen, Grimes, Rudolph, and Kamara. Clausen's accuracy has been way off due to a couple of injuries, health overall, and poor decision making. If the Irish are going to win this game and win it by a margin that will keep the naysayers off of the programs back for at least another week, Clausen must be deadly accurate and take what the defense is giving him. Sounds simple enough.
What defensive player needs to step it up? I went with two freshman on the defensive side of the ball, now I'm going to take two more guys on the defensive side of the ball (get the hint?). David Bruton and Kyle McCarthy. The Irish don't want these two to have big tackle numbers as they would rather the LB's and DL make most of those, but these are two outstanding run supporters and both fly to the ball very well. The key is to hold Navy's offense in check. they may get a few yards here and a few yards there, but ND has got to stop the big run and that comes with great safety support. Navy running back, Shun White, is averaging 8.4 YPC. He looks like a duplicate of former Irish great Julius Jones. He is fast and runs with great power. The key for Bruton and McCarthy will be to keep the lanes closed and prevent the long carries. If they can do this, and help force the plays inside, Notre Dame should be able to control the way Navy attacks our defense.
What special teams player needs to step it up? I got two players for you once again. Jonas Gray and Leonard Gordon. Against BC Gray had two penalties on kick returns and he has had two muffs this year when returning a kick ( NC & Washington). Gordon could not/ would not get out of Golden Tate's way as Tate was returning a punt against BC. The Tate return should have went for six. C'mon guys.
Who's gonna win? This team is in serious trouble right now and needs a big win. They have all tools to get it done Saturday, but they may not have the confidence or swagger to do it with authority. If they can restore that confidence early in the game, I think they can blow the doors off of Navy. If they struggle early, we may be in for a long afternoon. They get it done. IRISH 35 - 14. Call me crazy or super optimistic, but I think ND controls the run game against Navy and becomes efficient on offense. Notre Dame should be fired up for this game and come out wanting revenge. All I have to do is watch this clip and it puts me in the fucking stratosphere. Go Irish!