Notre Dame Football: Life Lessons Taught in Impressive Win over Navy

Erin McLaughlinSenior Analyst IISeptember 2, 2012

After an offseason that Notre Dame would love to forget, the Irish went back to their roots and opened their season in Ireland. Notre Dame dominated Navy from the start, and the Midshipmen defense was no match for the Irish rushing attack.

The only POSSIBLE concern for Notre Dame could be the secondary. The one touchdown Navy scored was on an early, second-half drive in which they threw at will. The announcer said that these are the least talented receivers the cornerbacks will face all year.

That is true, but it is possible that the Irish were geared toward stopping the run first. That is how you defend Navy.

After that drive, the passing attack went away. So there might be a problem, but let's not make it bigger than it is at this point.

I took a lot from this win, but I think the biggest issue is about more than football. I mentioned that it was a long offseason. That of course was due to suspensions for off-field conduct for a few players including Tommy Rees and Cierre Wood

Rees was suspended for one game while Wood was suspended for two, but both will likely be facing more consequences.

Rees probably lost his starting job as the team's quarterback since the team prepared all summer with Everett Golson as the quarterback. Golson is a more prototypical quarterback for a Brian Kelly spread offense and performed well in his first start. There is definitely some growth needed, but he did alright.

Therefore, Rees probably won't get his job back unless there is an injury to Golson, and nobody in South Bend wants to see that. The fact is that if not for his suspension, Rees would have been the quarterback. As much as Irish fans hate that, a coach is not going to replace a quarterback that he has won with for an unproven prospect unless that player is clearly outperforming the other in practice. That wasn't happening.

I do think Rees should be the No. 2 quarterback because Andrew Hendrix is probably the biggest disappointment since Jimmy Clausen.

Rees, however, might not have been the biggest loser on Saturday. Wood watched at home on his TV as Theo Riddick racked up 107 yards and George Atkinson rushed for 99. If they can both repeat their performances against Purdue, then Wood might go from being the team's leading rusher to third-string.

I didn't think that was possible, but how can you take either Riddick or Atkinson out? The only other option is that Riddick could move to wide receiver. But if that decision is made, it has to be because it is best for the team and not for Wood.

There is an obvious lesson here: You have to follow the rules no matter who you are. Nobody is bigger than the program. When you get a one or two-game suspension, it may not seem like much at first. But the results on Saturday showed that it may be about a lot more than just one or two games. Rees and Wood had to learn that the hard way.