Notre Dame will square off against option offenses in back-to-back weeks, with this Saturday's game against Air Force followed by a Nov. 2 home date with Navy. Call it a fortunate coincidence.
Those are the only two option offenses Notre Dame will face this year, unless they wind up facing Georgia Tech in a bowl game. It's not an easy scheme to prepare for, though Notre Dame's handled it well in the last few seasons.
"You have to be so disciplined to face it," coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday. "And you know the game of football, especially on defense, is that you want to play a little bit reckless at times. And it really slows you down and forces you to play assignment football and takes away sometimes that skill advantage that you have, that size advantage becomes minimized in some instances, because you have to play so disciplined and play assignment football."
The threat of three different players potentially running on any given play could create headaches for a defense more used to spread and pro-style looks, to be sure. But the good news is Notre Dame faces the worse team first — Air Force is 1-6 and has had injuries decimate its quarterback depth, while Navy is 3-3 with a win over Indiana to its name.
It's worth noting, though, that neither team rates especially well — Air Force ranks No. 135 by Jeff Sagarin's ratings and No. 113 by the F/+ rankings, while Navy is No. 73 in Sagarin and No. 90 by F/+.
Still, Kelly likes the timing of the two games, though he said he didn't have a hand in scheduling them that way.
"You can ask me how the Democrats and Republicans work together more so than putting the schedule together," Kelly said. "I don't know how they put the schedule together. It's just a complicated moving of games with the ACC and trying to get alliances that have been out there with different contracts. And sometimes it just falls that way."