Report Card: Navy vs. South Carolina

In a valiant effort the Navy Midshipmen battled the South Carolina Gamecocks, the No. 10 ranked team in the nation, in Columbia last Saturday. South Carolina picked off Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor's final fourth down pass with one minute to go in the game to hold off the Mids, 24-21.

South Carolina's super star tailback Marcus Lattimore was the difference in the game as he ran for a career high 246 yards. Navy's record drops to (2-1) while South Carolina remains undefeated.




South Carolina


It's obvious that quarterback Kriss Proctor's strength is not passing the ball but he threw the ball rather well against South Carolina. If Proctor demonstrated a little more patience there were a number of throws that could have resulted in potentially big plays. For the game Proctor completed 5 of 9 passes for 61 yards with an interception on Navy's final offensive play of the game.

Proctor completed his first pass on Navy's second touchdown drive. It was a nice throw to senior Bruce Andrews on a third down pass for an eight yard gain. It was the first career catch for Andrews who was the star of this summer's training camp. Kriss' only other throw in the first half was a potential game changer. On first down off play action he threw a line drive pass towards slotback Josh Howell who had just broke open behind the defense. If he had managed to put a little air under the ball it, could have been a huge play. Following a delay of the game penalty that left the Mids deep in their own territory Proctor, on third down and long, rolled out and hit Bo Snelson for a 33 yards gain that led to a touchdown. Proctor made a clutch 16 yard throw on fourth and 15 caught by Matt Aiken to keep the final drive alive. Kriss threw the ball too early to Gee Gee Greene before his break the next play. He was hurried into an incompletion before throwing an interception on the final offensive play for the Mids. The Mids offensive line did a very good job against a tremendous pass rushing front four.
The Mids rushed for 278 yards, averaged 5.8 per carry and scored three touchdowns. Kriss Proctor did an excellent job running the option and making decisions but the longer the game progressed it was obvious that the Gamecocks talented defensive line adapted. Running room was harder to find as the game progressed. Proctor rushed for 72 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown. Alexander Teich ran for a tough 93 yards and a score. Teich fumbled after a 15 yard gain in the third but it was alertly covered by John Howell.

Gee Gee Greene (59 yards on six carries) and John Howell (32 yards, including a 27 yard touchdown run) had almost all of their success on the perimeter early. The line, slotbacks and receivers did a terrific job against the Gamecocks until the last two drives were they struggled to create the running room that was there earlier.
Buddy Greene's bend but don't break defensive scheme and Stephen Garcia's struggles with his accuracy helped keep the Mids in the game to the end. Garcia badly missed a few passes early in the game. Free safety Shawn Lynch (2 tackles) was late with help as Ace Sanders got behind the Mids defense on the opening drive. but Garcia overthrew him.

Matt Warrick (8 tackles, 1 pass defensed) hit Garcia on the opening drive of the second half forcing his pass to float which was intercepted by Kwesi Mitchell (4 tackles, 1 int). Spurrier took the ball out of Garcia's hands and gave it to Lattimore. Garcia spent the majority of the game throwing safe passes underneath. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 204 yards. Navy was able to generate some pressure on Garcia with Bryce French and Tra'ves Bush recording sacks.
I know that to some giving a ‘B' grade to a defense that allowed 254 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 5.8 yards a carry will be viewed as overly generous. However, the Mids were playing against a super star running back in Marcus Lattimore without their starting outside linebackers. The Mids battled all day.

The replacements at outside linebacker Bryce French (13 tackles) and Tra'ves Bush (11 tackles) were pushed back at times but competed and made plays. Inside linebacker Matt Brewer made 9 tackles and forced another fumble. Wes Henderson (5 tackles) had a career day. Wes made a huge tackle dropping Lattimore for a loss on fourth down and two yards to give Navy the ball back late in the fourth quarter and a chance to win the game.
After struggling against Western Kentucky the week before, The Mids special teams were excellent. The kickoff coverage allowed only an average of 17.7 yards on three returns. Pablo Beltran's one directional punt sliced too much and only traveled 29 yards. Jon Teague's kickoffs were excellent. Marcus Thomas once again did a solid job on kickoff returns. Plebe Chris Ferguson had a huge hit on the opening kickoff return of the second half forcing a fumble which was recovered by South Carolina.
Ken Niumatalolo had his team ready to pull the upset .Niumatalolo made a tactical error trying to run out the clock after a third down stop with a minute left in the first half. Spurrier let the clock run down then put Garcia back on the field for what was essentially a free play Garcia completed a 12 yard pass, then another setting up a 48 yard field goal that proved to be the difference.

Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper called a tremendous game. I could argue with a few decisions on the last drive but Jasper's decision making was sound the whole game. Buddy Greene was disappointed in the defenses inability to stop South Carolina on third down but his defense played sound and hard every down despite being over matched and shorthanded.
This was a great effort against an SEC power and one of the best teams in the nation. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo summed it up best, "Our guys are heartbroken right now. This is a hard pill to swallow. We didn't come here to play South Carolina close. We came here to win. We had our chances and we battled to the end. They just made a little more plays than we did."

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