DUBLIN -- Marcus Freeman has his new quarterback in Sam Hartman. The Notre Dame coach says he also has the ideal time to face Navy.
The Irish, ranked No. 13, will face the Midshipmen and their triple-option offense in the season opener today at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
"It's a tremendous advantage to play Navy the first game of the year because the preparation that entails getting ready for them is obviously lengthy," Freeman said.
Freeman begins his second full year as a head coach intent on a fast start. Notre Dame opened with a loss to Ohio State last year and followed it up by losing to Marshall at home. The Irish were also upset by Stanford in South Bend last season.
They might not get another mulligan -- even in Ireland.
Stability at the quarterback position should help. Hartman threw for 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last year at Wake Forest. The graduate transfer was a three-year starter and holds the ACC career record for touchdown passes (110). He replaces Drew Pyne and Tyler Buchner.
"There's no substitution for experience -- none. I don't care if you're the head coach or the quarterback," Freeman said. "That's what gives me confidence in Sam Hartman. This ain't his first rodeo."
Navy Coach Brian Newberry -- making his head coaching debut -- said disrupting Hartman is a top priority.
"If he knows what we're doing, it's going to be a long day," said Newberry, who was promoted from defensive coordinator when Navy fired Ken Niumatalolo after back-to-back 4-8 finishes.
Hartman will have an experienced partner at center. Freeman confirmed on Thursday that starter Zeke Correll (ankle) will play.
Notre Dame leads Navy 81-13-1 in a series that was uninterrupted from 1927-2019 before the pandemic and has won the last five. Notre Dame held on for a 35-32 victory last November.
This will be their third meeting in Dublin. The Irish won 50-10 in 2012 at Aviva Stadium and prevailed 54-27 in 1996 before a disappointing crowd of 38,651 at Croke Park; the locals during the first game were reportedly perplexed by Midshipmen doing pushups every time Navy scored.
Today's game was originally scheduled for Dublin in 2020 but it was canceled because of the pandemic.
Newberry hasn't named a starting quarterback but on Tuesday said senior Tai Lavatai "has separated himself as of late." Lavatai and sophomore Blake Horvath are both listed atop the QB depth chart. Behind them is 5-9 senior Xavier Arline.
"We've got three players that we can roll out at quarterback," Newberry said. "In this system, you've got to have depth at quarterback."
Lavatai was last year's starter through eight games before a knee injury. Arline started the final four games, including against Notre Dame. Arline will "certainly have a role [today], whether it's at quarterback or at slot," Newberry said.
AP Top 25 schedule
All times Central
RK. TEAM NEXT
(1) Georgia Tennessee-Martin, 5 p.m. Sept. 2
(2) Michigan East Carolina, 11 a.m. Sept. 2
(3) Ohio State at Indiana, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(4) Alabama Middle Tennessee, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(5) LSU vs. (8) Fla. St. (Orlando, Fla.), 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3
(6) Southern Cal San Jose State, 7 p.m. today
(7) Penn State West Virginia, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(8) Florida State vs. (5) LSU (Orlando, Fla.), 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3
(9) Clemson at Duke, 7 p.m. Sept. 4
(10) Washington Boise State, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(11) Texas Rice, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(12) Tennessee vs. Virginia (Nashville, Tenn.), 11 a.m. Sept. 2
(13) Notre Dame vs. Navy (Dublin), 1:30 p.m. today
(14) Utah Florida, 7 p.m. Thursday
(15) Oregon Portland State, 2 p.m. Sept. 2
(16) Kansas State Southeast Missouri State, 6 p.m. Sept. 2
(17) TCU Colorado, 11 a.m. Sept. 2
(18) Oregon State at San Jose State, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 3
(19) Wisconsin Buffalo, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(20) Oklahoma Arkansas State, 11 a.m. Sept. 2
(21) North Carolina vs. S. Carolina (Charlotte, N.C.), 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2
(22) Mississippi Mercer, 1 p.m. Sept. 2
(23) Texas A&M New Mexico, 6 p.m. Sept. 2
(24) Tulane South Alabama, 7 p.m. Sept. 2
(25) Iowa Utah State, 11 a.m. Sept. 2