Niumatalolo: We can't let Irish beat us twice

Ken Niumatatlolo

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo spoke with the media on Saturday after the Mids' close 38-34 loss to the Irish.

General comments:

Congratulations to Coach Kelly and the entire program. Great win. It's a hard fought game. Super proud of our players. And I think -- like I said, I think everybody in this room can rest assured that we just -- those are the type of young men that are going to be protecting us, tough, hard-nosed kids.

Yes, we would have liked to have won the game, but I couldn't be more proud of a group of young men that just continued to battle at the end.

But like I said, give props to Notre Dame. They made enough plays to win. But having said all that, I'm still proud of our team.

On the failed reverse play:

We might have taken a tad too long on the reverse there. We felt like it was open. I've got to go back and look at tape, but I think we're one block from breaking. You know what I mean?

We were a little bit -- maybe a step too slow on our mechanics of it, where it normally should have been a fraction of a second earlier. That block shouldn't have been an issue because we should have helped flank it.

We were a little late on the pitch, in our pitch relationship there, but I thought it was a great call by Ivin. They made the play. Again, you've got to give Notre Dame the credit. They tackled us for the win.

On Navy's successful running game:

Like I said, it wasn't good enough. We didn't win.

I thought Ivin and his staff did some good things. We struggled against Notre Dame the last couple of years. I just thought our kids played well but still wasn't enough.

On Keenan Reynolds' performance:

I thought that kid played great. I thought Keenan played well. I thought we had the perfect scenario. We got the ball to the 50 yard line, all our time-outs left. I didn't want to give them the ball back. If we were going to score, I wanted to score with basically nothing on the clock, and we had a chance. Like I said, we had a chance.

Got to go back and look at the tape, but I think we're one guy away from breaking it, but we didn't get it done.

I thought Keenan played great in a hostile, tough environment to play. This is a great, great atmosphere to play at. I thought the kids prepared well for the game. Just one more play. That's all it would have taken, just one more play.

On whether or not Niumatalolo thought the team that had the ball last would win and did he pace himself to get the ball last?

Well, it's hard to do that, but we were trying to go slow. I mean, we were going no huddle, but it wasn't a fast no huddle.

You could see a couple of times we snapped the ball with one second, two seconds left on the clock. We were trying to keep them off the field. Our big thing was try to limit their possessions. They're very, very good on offense. They're very good on defense, but we felt like our chance was to limit their possessions, keep them off the field.

We were fortunate to get some turnovers. They had a couple passes there that they dropped, but for us to beat them, that's what's going to happen. They had a couple of turnovers. We didn't have any penalties. We got to play it almost perfect to even have a chance, and I thought our kids played well.

Again, it wasn't good enough to beat a very, very good Notre Dame team.

On whether or not watching Air Force (similar offense) play Notre Dame last week helped him find holes in the ND defense.

I thought Coach Kelly said it best early on. I thought it was an advantage for both sides. It allowed them to get a couple of weeks of practice with the option, but it allowed us to see what they were going to do.

It's not like Coach Diaco didn't know what we were going to do anyway. Like I said, we haven't been able to score any points the last couple of years.

We're just fortunate to know we executed a little bit better. We made some short plays, and we found a way to move the ball against a very good football team.

We were happy with the 3 1/2, the 4 yard plays because, again, it kept the clocks moving. It kept the sticks manageable in down and distance, kept them off the field.

On whether or not he's encouraged about the rest of the season after the Mids performance against the Irish.

I think Notre Dame goes through this every week. I mean, everybody gets up for Notre Dame. For everybody that plays Notre Dame, it's the Super Bowl for that team.

For us to come to the Mecca of college football, our kids are excited about it. So we played really, really hard. What we can't do is let this loss turn into two losses. We can't let Notre Dame beat us twice. They're a good team, but hopefully they won't beat us twice. Hopefully, we'll bounce back next week.

Thank you, guys.

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