Navy at East Carolina: Three Keys Revisited

There must be something about the field at East Carolina that just makes the option more effective. Navy had its best rushing day since the last time the Mids played on the same field in 2010 as they rolled up 512 yards on the ground as part of an overall offensive explosion for 563 yards.

There must be something about the field at East Carolina that just makes the option more effective. Navy had its best rushing day since the last time the Mids played on the same field in 2010 as they rolled up 512 yards on the ground as part of an overall offensive explosion for 563 yards. This was also the biggest day on the scoreboard for the Academy since that 2010 date as they routed the Pirates 56-28.

1) Stop Justin Hardy

The Midshipmen knew that in order to take down the Pirates priority number one was to stop Justin Hardy. The ECU wide out has been on a tear this season and came into the game with more than 100 yards receiving in each of his past three outings. The Mids defense though is night and day better than it was at the start of the year and the combination of pass rush and downfield coverage held Hardy to an acceptable 31 yards on six receptions for just one score. Navy succeeded in stopping Hardy from making any big plays on long receptions while, most importantly, holding him without a catch throughout the third quarter when the Mids made their offensive surge.

2) Win the turnover battle

Even though Keenan Reynolds threw his first interception since taking over as the Midshipmen starting quarterback, Navy was once again able to win the turnover battle on Saturday. Just as important was the timing of the turnovers Navy was able to force. After taking a 28-14 lead at the start of the second half the Mids were able to force a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and be first to the loose ball. This was quickly turned into Navy's first passing touchdown of the day and the team had blown a close game wide open. This was the second of five consecutive touchdown drives which put a game East Carolina side away.

3) Watch the weather

With Sandy en route the weather was always likely to play some role in this game and it was always likely to play out in the Midshipmen's favor. This proved to be exactly the case as the combination of power and cutback running that the option provides was run to near perfection on the soggy and at times treacherous field. When Navy aired the ball out they did so in the ideal situations and the wind was a non factor. The Pirates vertical attack was stymied far more by the weather than anything which Navy tried to do.

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