Notre Dame's big final margin doesn't begin to tell the half of it

NAVY FOOTBALL

November 05, 1993|By EARL SCHUBERT

From a classic first half to startling reality in the second, the Navy football team experienced a range of emotions during three hours Saturday against Notre Dame.

The highs during the first 30 minutes defied description, as the 35-point underdog Midshipmen were actually outplaying the Irish, ranked second in the nation.

Incredible is not too strong a word to describe the scene.

The only question remaining was, how much more than 24-17 would Navy be leading by had its receivers not dropped six passes?

But Notre Dame's huge offensive line awakened at the same time that the Irish's strategy changed from pitching outside to the tailbacks (which Navy stopped very well) to hammering between the tackles.

It worked.

Navy's inside defense began to collapse, and when that happened Notre Dame found it rather easy to pass.

The final score: Notre Dame 58, Navy 27.

Here are some reflections on the drama in Philadelphia:

* Anyone reasonably knowledgeable about football will recognize the technically excellent game plan -- both on offense and defense -- developed by Navy's coaching staff to counter Notre Dame's obvious edge in strength.

For instance, no opponent had shredded the Irish pass defense as the Mids did Saturday.

* Serious national recognition must, at last, be given to Mids quarterback Jim Kubiak.

It was not a struggling Division I-AA team against whom Kubiak completed 21 of 39 passes for 251 yards.

The all-time Navy passing records he is setting are real.

In addition, the offensive line has come a long, long way in improving pass blocking, and much of Kubiak's success can be given to having the time to find receivers.

* Linebacker Javier Zuluaga made six tackles and had seven assists, but if you were watching closely, you saw that the Irish were blocking him with two and sometimes three 195-pound players.

Obviously, he had been well-scouted and was a determined target the entire game. There should be no doubt that he is All-America material.

* Speaking of defensive stalwarts, 230-pound Shane Holloran from Middletown, Ohio, came into his own with a flourish, making seven tackles with six assists.

ABC-TV named him the game's Most Valuable Player.

As coach Navy coach George Chaump said before the game, his team needed a "near perfect" effort to stay close.

Incredibly, the Mids were not penalized and were intercepted only once. In the end, power and speed decided the final score.

It was the 67th meeting between Navy and Notre Dame, thlongest intersectional rivalry in college football.

So, where does the 1993 Navy football program stand now?

There will be no Liberty Bowl invitation, but don't count out other possibilities that may be in the imaginative mind of director of athletics Jack Lengyel if the Mids come up with victories over Vanderbilt, Southern Methodist and Army after an open date this week.

Three wins are a distinct possibility, and 7-4 would look awfully good.

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