Week 0 of college football is a truly exciting time. It's our first taste of official football action since the Super Bowl, and the first in the college game since January.
It's also a supremely weird time, as teams are incorporating new players and trying new concepts, so you're bound to see some strange plays and outcomes. That's exactly what happened in the first game of the season between Navy and Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.
Navy playing offense and defense at the same time ?
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) August 26, 2023
Week 0 is prime time for some huge upsets, and Navy wanted to get in on the action in its season opener against No. 13 Notre Dame in their unique Dublin, Ireland, clash. After the Fighting Irish opened the year with a touchdown drive, the Midshipmen stormed right back, driving down the field to Notre Dame's 37-yard line.
Understanding the importance of staying in the game, they chose to go for it on fourth down with three yards to go. And they boldly uncorked the first pass attempt of the year, perhaps the symbolic start of a new age for the program. It was thrown beautifully by quarterback Tai Lavatai to a wide open receiver — and was broken up by another Navy wideout, who perhaps ran a wrong route. The drive was over, and Notre Dame scored touchdowns on their next four drives en route to a 42-3 blowout win.
Navy had to replace a lot this offseason, including head coach Ken Niumatalolo, who ran the program for 15 seasons. His successor, Brian Newberry, was joined by two brand-new coordinators, signaling the true start of a new era for the Midshipmen. The new staff — combined with some NCAA rule changes regarding below-the-waist blocking — have led many to believe that Navy would abandon or at least alter its classic triple-option offensive system and go to the air more often.
The early returns aren't promising. Navy had just three completions for 43 yards — all of which were on their final two drives and well after the game was decided. And they included the absolute disaster on fourth down that you can see in the clip above. But, of course, Rome wasn't built in a day; it will take some time to fully adjust to a new system. Also, Notre Dame is a good bit better than most of Navy's opponents this year, so it wasn't an easy test run for the new system. Navy wasn't able to take down the biggest program on their schedule, but it'll be exciting to see how the new system evolves over the season.
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