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Notre Dame secondary gets in some work against Navy

Updated: October 3, 2012 6:31AM

DUBLIN, Ireland — Navy has led the nation in rushing in five of the last 10 years and has never finished lower than sixth in that time. Running the triple-option, the Midshipmen simply don’t pass. So it figured that Notre Dame’s untested cornerbacks would ease into their new roles in the opener.

But Navy unveiled a new offensive look late in the first half to set up a chip-shot field goal before halftime. Then quarterback Trey Miller opened the second half with three passes for 75 yards — including a 38-yarder on which Bennett Jackson got beat and a 25-yard touchdown strike to Shawn Lynch on which true freshman KeiVarae Russell was burned.

The Irish switched to a cover-2 after that, and Navy completed just one more pass. Manti Te’o picked up his first career interception in the third quarter.

“Clearly they wanted to throw the football in that first drive and were able to attack a couple of our coverages,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “[Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco] did a nice job of making an adjustment from something they had not profiled.”

Overall, Kelly was pleased with his young corners, including Jalen Brown, who spelled Russell. Things will get considerably tougher next week, when Purdue brings its passing game to South Bend.

“I thought they did some great things,” Kelly said. “I’m really excited about their ability to compete. That learning experience is so big for us as we move to our next challenge, which is playing Purdue.”

Also making his debut was safety Matthias Farley, who was a surprise starter, to help combat the triple-option.

“I’m really pleased with Matthias’ ability to play disciplined football at a crucial position for us,” Kelly said.

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