Given extra week to study, Mids still fail test

Both offense, defense flat despite a 16-day break

Navy notebook

College Football

October 17, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Paul Johnson-coached teams customarily play some of their best football when they have more than one week to prepare for an opponent. Navy didn't add to that trend yesterday.

After a 16-day break since a big victory at Air Force, Navy was ineffective early on defense and almost completely stifled on offense for a half in the 27-9 thrashing by Notre Dame.

Johnson absorbed some of the blame for that.

"I didn't do a good job of getting our guys ready to play, and we didn't start out very good," Johnson said. "I might have given the quarterback [Aaron Polanco] too much to look at."

Navy's players doubted that the long layoff was responsible.

"It didn't have anything to do with the long break or with people saying we could win this game," said fullback Kyle Eckel, whose 102 yards rushing enabled him to vault past Alton Grizzard into fifth place on the school's career list. "People say that every year. We don't listen to that."

Eckel raised his career total yardage to 2,248.

Last season, Navy was 4-1 with more than a week of preparation, with the only loss to Texas Tech in the Houston Bowl. This year, it had been 1-0 in that situation, beating Duke in the opener.

Jersey giants

Notre Dame's victory pushed its unblemished record at Giants Stadium to 11-0, including six victories over Navy. Its previous win there came in the 2002 Kickoff Classic, 22-0, over Maryland.

The Irish are 14-0 in New Jersey, including two wins at Princeton in the 1920s and one at Rutgers in 2000.

Navy has played well in recent appearances at pro venues, beating Air Force at FedEx Field in Landover last season and nearly pulling off a monumental upset of the Irish at Ravens Stadium two years ago.

Scouts' honor

Notre Dame linebacker Brandon Hoyte credited the scout team as one of the keys to the easy victory.

"They gave us a great look at what we were going to see," Hoyte said. "They did a tremendous job, and when we got out there against the real thing, they didn't seem as fast because the scout team had done a great job of preparing us. They were a major part of us winning."

Hoyte had a career-high 16 tackles in a homecoming to New Jersey.

Extra points

Dating to 1985, Notre Dame has averaged 38.4 points a game against Navy. The Irish have scored 2,098 points in the series, their highest total against any rival. ... Marcus Wilson scored his first career touchdown with a 33-yard run for the Irish in the first quarter, and D.J. Fitzpatrick kicked a season-long 47-yard field goal in the second. ... Navy is now 2-8-1 when entering the Notre Dame game unbeaten.

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