3 Keys Revisited - Navy vs Middle Tennessee

The Mids put an end to their recent streak of bowl futility on Monday by destroying Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl. Navy was able to win only its second bowl in their last seven tries with all three phases of the game working together to dominate the Blue Raiders. Navy's defense was especially impressive as they held their opponents to just six points, their lowest output of the season.

The Mids put an end to their recent streak of bowl futility on Monday by destroying Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl. Navy was able to win only its second bowl in their last seven tries with all three phases of the game working together to dominate the Blue Raiders. Navy's defense was especially impressive as they held their opponents to just six points, their lowest output of the season.

Here is a look back at the three keys to victory.

1) Win the turnover battle - Fail

The Mids were actually tied at 2-2 in the turnover battle, but that is acceptable against a Middle Tennessee team who have proven to be adept at taking the ball away this year. If you count the hidden turnover on downs which the Blue Raiders had on their first drive of the third quarter then the Mids actually took this particular category by a score of 3-2.

What Navy did especially well was to not get down when the ball was turned over twice deep in Middle Tennessee territory with the game still in the balance. Instead the defense stood up and held the Blue Raiders scoreless for the entire second half, picking up a couple of very timely interceptions along the way. To do all that after the ridiculous ejection of Wave Ryder for targeting is a testament to just how good the Navy defense has been in 2013.

2) New tweaks in the run game - Pass

The run game was working in full force with Keenan Reynolds getting his 30th and 31st touchdowns of the season. The Mids started the game with 10 straight run plays, daring Middle Tennessee to stop them, proving that the scheme and the personnel were just two good on their way to 366 yards on the ground. Reynolds was once again inspirational in a performance which saw him rack up 86 yards to go along with his two touchdowns, scores which mean the only players to score more in a season on the ground are Monte Ball and Barry Sanders. That is the kind of rarified company which should put Reynolds in the Heisman discussion in 2014.

3) Make Middle Tennessee one dimensional – Pass

Middle Tennessee came in averaging 207 yards per game on the ground, but they found running on Navy to be an altogether different proposition. The Mids held the Blue Raiders under 100 yards on the day rushing the ball (91 yards) at a pedestrian 3.4 yards per carry. In truth Navy did a good job of shutting down everything that Middle Tennessee tried, as they were only able to go for 218 yards through the air too. Any game when you are able to keep your opponents out of the end zone is one in which you are going to give your offense a good chance to win.

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