With about 24 hours to chew on his decision to have Notre Dame kick a field goal down four midway through the fourth quarter Saturday against Navy, coach Brian Kelly said he doesn’t regret making that call. Notre Dame never got the ball back after Justin Yoon connected on his 31-yard try, with Navy converting a pair of fourth downs to bleed 7:28 off the block and end the game.
Kelly said, because he chose to kick against the win in the third quarter and had the wind at his back in the fourth, he figured Notre Dame’s best opportunity was to get a defensive stop and win on a late field goal.
“We had many chances to get off the field,” Kelly said. “We had third and nines, third and sevens, fourth and sixth, and we had our own chance to pick up a first down on the offensive side of the ball.
“They are easily disputed, but I think it was the right call to make it 28-27 with a field goal and the wind to your back to win the game in the kind of game that we played.”
Still, extended drives are a specialty of Ken Niumatalolo’s triple option offense at Navy. The Mids rank 6th nationally in third down conversion rate (52.43 percent) and 23rd in fourth down conversion rate (63.16 percent), while Notre Dame ranks middle of the pack in third down (39.26 percent) and fourth down conversion rates (52.63 percent).
While Notre Dame hardly was guaranteed to convert that fourth-and-four — the Irish rank 58th in fourth down conversion rate (53.33 percent) — the numbers would indicate that the Irish had a better chance of picking up that first down than getting off the field against Navy’s offense.
Kelly hopes for change in review process
On what would’ve been Navy’s only punt of the game The ACC officiating crew told coach Brian Kelly safety Devin Studstill indeed got off the field in time on what would’ve been Navy’s only punt of the game. But the American Athletic Conference review officials erroneously decided it was acceptable to look at the play, and after a review, a penalty was assessed. Navy didn’t punt, it converted a fourth-and-one try and Notre Dame wasn’t allowed an opportunity to build on its three-point lead.
While the larger issue here is that Notre Dame lost its sixth game of the season largely because of a poor officiating decision — in other words, the Irish left far too much to chance against the Mids — Kelly said Sunday he hopes college football’s replay process becomes nationalized to fit with other major sports leagues like the NFL, NHL and MLB, which all have central offices to handle replay reviews instead of leaving them to officiating crews.
“It brings up many questions relative to, you know, replay and really a need for uniform and nationalized replay when you have different conferences with different ways of looking at specific plays,” Kelly said. “You know, we're the only sport that doesn't have that, so I hope that affect the some form of conversation that we can get to a nationalized replay situation.”
Kelly admitted, though, that Studstill should’ve been off the field quicker. Navy was facing a fourth-and-six at its own 40-yard line, which would’ve been aggressive conversion attempt even for a team that frequently goes for it on fourth down.
“We should not have cut it that close, obviously,” Kelly said. “We weren't certain that they were going to punt. They are a team that obviously goes for it quite a bit on fourth down. So we had our base defense. We were in a safe punt situation.
“So you're keeping your defense out there till the very last second and they raced their team out there quickly and we should have obviously not cut it as close as we did.”
Tranquill, Love enter concussion protocol
Notre Dame junior safety Drue Tranquill and freshman cornerback Julian Love both will go through the team’s concussion protocol this week after leaving Saturday’s game against Navy with head injuries.