OPENING KICK • Navy (0-0) and #13 Notre Dame (0-0) meet for the 96th time on the gridiron and for the third time in Dublin, Ireland when the two square off on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 pm (2:30 pm ET) at a sold-out Aviva Stadium (51,700). The game will be the debut for Navy head football coach Brian Newberry. • The two teams previously played in Dublin in 1996 at Croke Park and in 2012 at Aviva Stadium. Notre Dame won the 1996 game 54-27 and the 2012 game 50-10. • Navy will have the longest regular season in the country this fall, playing its first regular-season game of the year against Notre Dame and its final regular-season game on Dec. 9 vs. Army at Gillette Stadium in New England. • The two programs are among the winningest FBS teams in college football history. Notre Dame ranks fourth all-time with 938 wins, while Navy ranks 25th with 733 wins. • The two schools had played 93-consecutive times, which was the longest intersectional rivalry in college football, until 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the game to be canceled. Navy and Notre Dame were originally scheduled to open the 2020 season in Dublin, Ireland. Travel restrictions, however, forced the game to be moved to Annapolis for what would have been the first game in series history to be played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium before the contest was ultimately canceled. • Notre Dame leads the series 81-13-1 and has won five in a row over the Mids. Navy’s last win over Notre Dame was in 2016, 28-27, in Jacksonville. The Mids lost by seven points to the Irish (24-17) in 2017 at Notre Dame and by three points (35-32) last year in Baltimore. • Navy has defeated four Notre Dame teams ranked in the top 25 all-time: 1936 over #13 Notre Dame 3-0 (Municipal Stadium in Baltimore); 1944 over #2 Notre Dame 32-12 (Municipal Stadium in Baltimore); 1957 over #5 Notre Dame 20-6 (at Notre Dame) and in 2009 over #19 Notre Dame 23-21 (at Notre Dame). • An upset by Navy would make Brian Newberry the first head coach in school history to beat a ranked opponent in his first game. • August 26 will be the earliest start to a Navy football season. Prior to this year, the earliest date was August 30 (4x – 2001 at Temple, 2002 vs. VMI, 2008 vs. Towson, 2014 vs. Ohio State in Baltimore)
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME 0-0 Overall Head Coach: Marcus Freeman • Notre Dame returns 11 starters and 31 letter winners off a team that finished 9-4 in 2022 and defeated South Carolina in the Gator Bowl 45-38. • The Fighting Irish have just 6 players that transferred to Notre Dame from another school, but one of them is Heisman Trophy candidate Sam Hartman, who transferred to South Bend from Wake Forest. • Hartman threw an ACC-record 110 touchdown passes for the Demon Deacons, while throwing for 12,967-career passing yards, which ranks second in ACC history. Hartman has topped the 300-yard passing mark 21 times in his career which is the most in ACC history. Additionally, he has either rushed for or thrown a touchdown pass in 34-consecutive games. • Notre Dame returns leading rusher Audric Estime, who ran for 920 yards and 11 touchdowns on 156 carries last year. • 6-8, 322-pound junior offensive tackle Joe Alt was an All-American last year and is expected to be one again in 2023. Both Hartman and Alt were selected to the Walter Camp Award Watch List, an award presented to the national player of the year. • The Irish return their top-two tacklers on defense in graduate student linebackers JD Bertrand and Jack Kiser. • Bertrand closed out last year with 82 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, while Kiser had 58 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. • In last year’s game, Navy outscored #20 Notre Dame 19-0 in the second half and outgained the Iriish 166-20, but it wasn’t enough as the Irish hung on for dear life to beat Navy 35-32 in front of 62,124 fans at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. • Braden Lenzy reached around a defender with both arms to make a spectacular touchdown catch, one of four TD passes by Drew Pyne before halftime to give Notre Dame to a 35-13 lead at the intermission. • Pyne also ran for a touchdown in the first half and Notre Dame blocked a punt for a fifth-straight game. Lenzy’s catch, however, was the most impressive highlight. Navy’s Mbiti Williams Jr. was positioned between Lenzy and the ball on Pyne’s deep pass to the goal line, but Lenzy reached around with both hands and controlled the ball, appearing to pin it against Williams’ back. Then he pulled it around the cornerback with his right hand to complete the catch. • Navy had the ball down 21-13 in the second quarter, but an interception on a trick play gave the Irish possession at the Navy 41. Pyne ran for an 11-yard touchdown moments later, and then the blocked punt by Jack Kiser — Notre Dame’s seventh of the season — set up Pyne’s 37-yard TD toss to Jayden Thomas. • Navy quarterback Xavier Arline threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Mark Walker in the fourth, and a 2-point conversion made it 35-24. Then Maasai Maynor’s 20-yard TD pass to Maquel Haywood late in the fourth, along with another 2-point conversion, cut the lead to a field goal.
(NOTRE DAME NOTES)
IRISH ITEMS – BY THE NUMBERS
Notre Dame will play its third game in Dublin, Ireland, against Navy on
Saturday. The Irish are 2-0 all-time on the Emerald Isle and 3-0 alltime outside the United States. Notre Dame defeated Miami FL 40-15
in the 1979 Mirage Bowl set in Tokyo, Japan.
In Marcus Freeman’s debut season in 2022, Notre Dame defeated four
Associated Press ranked teams: No. 5 Clemson, No. 16 BYU, No. 16 Syracuse and No. 20 South Carolina, which matched Terry Brennan (1954)
for the most ranked wins in a coaching debut season at Notre Dame
and was most in one single season for the program since 2018.
Benjamin Morrison intercepted six passes during his rookie season in
2022 and was one of two Power 5 defensive backs to reach that mark
(Miami’s Kamren Kinchens also had six).
Notre Dame is starting its season at a neutral site for the eighth time
in school history and the first since Notre Dame and Navy met at Aviva
Stadium to begin the 2012 season.
Interception = victory? Since 2021, Notre Dame is 14-0 when it has
intercepted at least one of its opposing team’s passes which is tied for
the best streak in FBS with Georgia and Coastal Carolina.
Average margin of victory for Notre Dame over Navy in Ireland (54-27
in 1996, 50-10 in 2012). In those two previous games, the Irish rushed
for 614 yards on 101 carries (6.1 yards per carry).
Fifth-year senior DJ Brown is the most experienced returning player
to the Irish roster this season, having appeared in 47 career games
with 10 starts. JD Bertrand has the most starts of any returning player with 22 in his career. The two of the most experienced players, in
terms of games played in a career, are new to the roster this season
– Sam Hartman (48) and Javontae Jean-Baptiste (47).
77 Irish quarterback Sam Hartman has thrown 77 touchdown passes
since 2021 – the most of any Power 5 quarterback.
The Irish and Midshipmen are meeting for the 96th time this weekend,
which is the most prolific series in Notre Dame football history. Notre
Dame and Southern Cal have met 93 times, with Purdue the third-most
When an Irish running back reaches the 100-yard plateau, that typically coincides with a Notre Dame victory. Since 2021, the Irish are 16-2
(.889) when at least one ND player reaches 100 rushing yards.
Senior team captain JD Bertrand has piled up 183 tackles over the
past two seasons which is the seventh-best two-season total for an
Irish linebacker since 2000.
NOTRE DAME – NAVY SERIES HISTORY
• Notre Dame and Navy will meet for the third time in Dublin, Ireland, and the 96th
time overall on Saturday in Aviva Stadium. The Irish lead the all-time series 81-13-1
and are 2-0 against the Midshipmen in Ireland.
• The 2023 Aer Lingus College Football Classic marks the third meeting between the
Notre Dame and Navy in Ireland, but the first time that the Fighting Irish are the
designated home team. The teams met in 1996 at Croke Park (54-27 ND victory)
and at Aviva Stadium in 2012 (50-10 ND win).
• Notre Dame and Navy met every season from 1927 through 2019 until the COVID-19
pandemic interrupted what was the longest uninterrupted intersectional rivalry
in college football and the third-longest uninterrupted rivalry overall in college
• This rivalry is unique for its longevity and for the sites in which the series has
been played. In addition to Dublin, Notre Dame and Navy have met all over the
United States, including Notre Dame Stadium (38 games) Baltimore (23), Cleveland
(11), Philadelphia (nine), New Jersey (seven), Maryland, (twice), San Diego, Orlando
and Jacksonville. Navy has never hosted the Irish for a true home game in the
• Notre Dame’s 43-game win streak in the series from 1963 through 2007 remains
the longest win streak between two annual opponents in college football history.
Navy ended the streak in 2007, which sparked the Midshipmen to three victories
in four series meetings between 2007 and 2010. Since 2010, Notre Dame is 10-1
against Navy and have won five straight.
NOTRE DAME SEASON OPENERS • All-time: 109-18-5 (.845) • On A Neutral Field: 6-1 (.857). The Irish have opened the season at a neutral site in 2012, 2002, 1994, 1992, 1989, 1984 and 1975. The lone loss was a 23-21 battle to Purdue in the Hoosier Dome to start the 1984 season. Notre Dame’s six neutral-site season-opening wins have come by an average of 26.8 points per game. • Notre Dame has won five of its last six season openers. • In the 109 seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish have gone on to post a winning record 93.5 percent of those campaigns (102 of 109). • In 11 of the last 13 seasons, the Irish have scored the first points in the season’s opening game. Since 1958, Notre Dame is 38-5 (.883) in the season opener when scoring first, while they are 14-6 when the opponent registers the first score. • Even as the Aer Lingus College Football Classic is a designated home game for Notre Dame, it marks the third-straight season the Irish will start a season away from Notre Dame Stadium (2021 at Florida State, 2022 at Ohio State). It is the first time since 2004-05-06 the Irish have started three-straight seasons away from Notre Dame Stadium.
TWO-DEEP TIDBITS – OFFENSE Jayden Thomas is the leading returning receiver for the Irish offense, catching 25 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. Deion Colzie posted his best game of the season against Navy last year, catching two passes for 50 yards, which included a 29-yard reception on third and long. Chris Tyree shifts fully to wide receiver this season and will specialize running routes out of the slot after three seasons as a running back. Tyree was one of three backs with 100 carries last season and is recognized as one of the a fastest players on the team. True freshman Jaden Greathouse joined the program in January of ‘23 and was a highlight of the Blue-Gold Game, catching 11 passes on 13 targets for 118 yards. Joe Alt, the son of former NFL All-Pro John Alt, is one of four team captains for the Irish this season, has been selected as a consensus preseason All-American and is on the Outland, Lombardi and Walter Camp Award watch lists. See page 7 for more on Alt. Pat Coogan has waited for his turn on the Irish offensive line and earned the starting nod at left guard this preseason. Coogan has appeared in just one game during his career with the Irish so far. Zeke Correll has played guard and center during his career and now enters the season as one of the top snappers in the nation. He will make his 23rd-career start on the Irish offensive line against Navy and is on the Rimington Award watch list. Rocco Spindler, similar to his fellow guard on the left side, has bided his time and will make his first-career start at right guard against Navy. Spindler has appeared in 14 games during his career – a large majority of that time was on the Irish PAT unit. Blake Fisher combines with Joe Alt to give the Irish offensive line two of the top tackles in the nation. See page 7 for more on Alt and Fisher. Mitchell Evan’s last reception of 2022 was the game-winning touchdown against South Carolina in the Gator Bowl. Evans also plays a key role in some of Notre Dame’s short yardage packages by taking direct snaps. He rushed for five first downs and a touchdown from under center last season. Tobias Merriweather made one catch as a rookie for a key touchdown against Stanford last season and was poised for a surge in playing time, but an injury before last year’s Navy contest slowed his progress. He has the length and athleticism to be one of Hartman’s top targets. Rico Flores Jr. has shown a penchant for getting open in the preseason and is one of Notre Dame’s true freshmen expected to contribute to the Irish offense. Sam Hartman is one of the most accomplished veteran quarterbacks returning to college football this season. See page 6 for more on Hartman’s accomplishments on and off the field. Audric Estimé just missed out on a 1,000-yard season in 2022 (he finished with 920 yards). Estimé’s specialty is wearing down the defense throughout the game – see page 7 for more.
Gi’Bran Payne has been a dependable contributor for the Irish this preseason and combines with Jadarian Price, Devyn Ford and Jeremiyah Love to give the Irish running back room a deep and flexible pool of talent. Jadarian Price was pushing for playing time as a true freshman in ‘22 before an Achilles injury in June ended his season. Devyn Ford brings experience (three years at Penn State) and leadership to the group. Jeremiyah Love will give Chris Tyree a run for the fastest player on the team. Spencer Shrader decided to play his final year at Notre Dame, claimed the starting kicker duties and has not looked back. A former professional soccer player, Shrader has rushed twice in his career (once for a 22-yard touchdown), caught a pass for seven yards, made two tackles on kick offs, punted once for 36 yards and has converted 28 career field goals. Bryce McFerson has a booming leg and was slated to be the Irish kickoff specialist last season as a true freshman, before an injury kept him off the field. Michael Vinson is in his sixth year at Notre Dame and is one of the top long snappers in the nation. He has developed into a clear leader not only for the Irish special teams, but the entire roster.
TWO-DEEP TIDBITS – DEFENSE Jordan Botelho finished second on the team with 4.5 sacks last season and was a terror on special teams – which included a key punt block against No. 5 Clemson. Junior Tuihalamaka started his career as a linebacker and has a nose for stopping the run. Sophomore Joshua Burnham will be seeing his first extended action this season. Rylie Mills is No. 10 on The Athletic’s Freak List for his work in the weight room and he is poised for a breakout season. Previously shifted inside and outside on the Irish defensive line, Mills is now entrenched at defensive tackle. Jason Onye’s motor never stops and he has been one of the talking points of the Irish preseason in his push for more playing time. Howard Cross III will appear in his 40th game for Notre Dame against Navy and is a dependable force on the interior of the defensive line. Gabriel Rubio is in the same role as Onye and Burnham, talented younger defensive linemen who are hoping to level up their game in 2023. Javontae Jean-Baptiste comes to Notre Dame after three seasons at Ohio State and brings athleticism and leadership to the defensive end position. Nana Osafo-Mensah is a leader in the defensive line group and a steady force against the run. Marist Liufau enters his second full season as a starter in 2023 and is poised to turn his massive experience from ‘22 (he led the defense in snaps) into increased production this year. JD Bertrand is the defacto leader of the Irish defense, and with 183 tackles over the last two seasons, is one of the most prolific tackling linebackers of the last 20 years. See page 7 for more on Bertrand. Jack Kiser does a little bit of everything for the Irish defense, and can appear on the line or even as a spot safety if necessary. Kiser has posted 123 tackles over the past three seasons, with 5.5 TFLs and three interceptions. Cam Hart was voted a captain by his teammates this season, and looks poised for a highly productive final season with the Irish. Among the most veteran defenders on the team (35 games played) Hart has 70 career tackles, 13 PBUs and two interceptions. DJ Brown returned for a fifth year and is the ‘quarterback’ of the back seven for Notre Dame’s defense. A solid and sure tackler, Brown has 105 career stops and three interceptions in his career – including one against Navy last season.
Xavier Watts has grown from a rookie wide receiver into one of Notre Dame’s starting safeties. He has appeared in 26 games and has 54 career tackles to his credit. Benjamin Morrison was a Freshman All-American last season, and is focused on taking his game to an even higher level in 2023. See page 7 for more on Morrison. The Irish defense is filled with talented younger players eager to make their mark with increased playing time in 2023. Jaylen Sneed loves to pressure the quarterback and get downhill on running situations. Christian Gray, a true freshman, has earned the trust of position coach Mike Mickens to be listed as a back up to Benjamin Morrison. While those talented younger players are ready for their moment, there are three key veterans in the back seven of the defense who will play key roles. Clarence Lewis has played in 37 games at Notre Dame and might be the team’s top choice as the nickle defender. Thomas Harper, a transfer from Oklahoma State, also is a top choice to defend slot receivers. Antonio Carter II jumps up a level from Rhode Island and will provide the Irish safeties depth and contribute across the Irish special teams. Dylan Devezin, a sophomore walk-on quarterback has seized the team’s holder role and has earned Spencer Shrader’s – and special teams coordinator Marty Biagi’s –trust. Chris Tyree just needs one person to miss on a punt return to show off his burst. Matt Salerno has been a dependable punt returner throughout his five-year Notre Dame career. Devyn Ford returned kicks at Penn State and will get the first opportunity against Navy. He will be joined by Tyree, who Irish fans still remember for his key kick return for a touchdown against Wisconsin in 2021 that shifted the game’s momentum.