Three Keys Revisited - Navy vs Pittsburgh

The Mids moved to 4-3 on the season and are now just two wins away from bowl eligibility after a tense and nervy victory on Saturday. After a first half where Navy looked much like the team who had lost two in a row coming in, the Mids finally round their rhythm in the second half and ran down a Pittsburgh team who had no answer for the option.

The Mids moved to 4-3 on the season and are now just two wins away from bowl eligibility after a tense and nervy victory on Saturday. After a first half where Navy looked much like the team who had lost two in a row coming in, the Mids finally round their rhythm in the second half and ran down a Pittsburgh team who had no answer for the option.

Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Go back to basics on offense - Pass.

The offense was quietly efficient on Saturday as the Mids were able to win a game where they were actually outgained by 13 yards. Even more surprising is the fact that Navy also lost the time of possession battle by almost eight minutes and still pulled off a victory. Perhaps most impressive though was the fact that Navy was able to shake off a first half performance that was pretty abject offensively and make the necessary adjustments to move the ball almost at will after the break.

When you take out the crazy 58 yard, pinball-esque touchdown scored by Marcus Thomas in the second quarter, Navy had just 77 yards of offense in a first half they seemed to be sleepwalking through. Keenan Reynolds however took over after half time, directing impressive drives of 91 and 71 yards as the Pitt defense seemed to tire physically and mentally. Reynolds was brutally effective on the drive which led to the winning field goal as he managed the offense and the clock flawlessly to put his team in position for a win.

2) Stop breaking on defense - Pass.

The Navy defense gets a passing grade because of a couple of big defense stands at either end of the game. On the first Pitt possession the Panthers moved the ball with ease up the field and looked certain to score. The Navy D however managed to work the bend but don't break strategy to perfection as the 16 play drive fell apart with an incomplete pass at the Navy seven yard line. The result was a field goal rather than a touchdown.

The other big defensive stand was right when the Mids had to have it. With the score tied at 21 late and Pitt starting on their own 25, Navy was able to force a three and out after an Obi Uzoma sack was followed by two ineffective plays. This was a huge stand for a defense unit which was in need of a big series to find their identity. The resulting shanked punt gave Navy great field position and set up what would be the final, game winning drive.

3) No hangover in the kicking game - Pass One of the great things about being a kicker is that you can go from goat to match winner in the space of seven days. After the botched extra point against Toledo we noted that it was important for Nick Sloan to have a short memory and concentrate on his next important kick. It turns out that his next important kick would be a 30-yard field goal to win this game and put Navy back into the postseason mix. Sloan kicked it like he has been making these all his life and you could see the exhilaration as the ball split the uprights and the clock hit zero. Such is the up and down life of a kicker.

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