Three Keys Navy vs Ohio State

On Saturday afternoon the Navy Midshipmen will kick off a season which seems full of promise in Baltimore against Ohio State. It is fair to say the hype for this one has done nothing but grow as kickoff has approached and there is a real groundswell of opinion that Navy could do something special here.

1) Pressure J.T. Barrett

The issues surrounding the quarterback situation at Ohio State have been well documented. When Braxton Miller went down with a shoulder injury in the middle of August you could feel the collective intake of breath in Columbus from the eastern seaboard. When worst case scenarios were confirmed, Miller has to miss the whole season, any realistic chance of the Buckeyes competing for the National Title disappeared.

Football, though, is very much a next man up sport. For the Buckeyes that next man up is J.T. Barrett. The coaches at Ohio State have been talking Barrett up for the past two weeks and it will be very interesting to see how this translates to his play on the field. The biggest single key in this game is going to be the ability of the Mids undersized pass rushers to beat a high level Ohio State offensive line and put pressure on Barrett. As talented as he may be the new Ohio State signal caller has never thrown a collegiate pass and his reaction to that first hit is going to be very interesting.

If Navy can spend the game in the Buckeye backfield harassing and hitting Barrett at every opportunity and keeping him skittish in the pocket then the upset could be on.

2) Keenan Reynolds needs a Heisman level game

Ohio State may not see the option often, but the first game of the season might be the best time to face it. The Buckeyes have had all summer to study film and work on concepts to defend the Mids unique offense and it is expected that a defense which is regarded as one of the deepest in the country will have no problems corralling Keenan Reynolds and company.

For the Mids to win Keenan Reynolds has to step out of the tunnel in midseason form. Reynolds is the superstar difference maker that the service academies do not usually have when taking on these BCS powerhouse teams. He is good enough to strap the Navy offense on his back and take over the game with his elusive running ability. He needs to make quick, accurate decisions in when to pitch and when to run and when he takes off he needs to make one cut and get downfield. His level of play will dictate if Navy has a shot to win this one late.

3) Win the turnover battle

This is obviously a key in any game, but its importance is magnified when you are a double digit underdog like Navy will be in Baltimore. Navy’s offense is obviously dictated by ball control principles and the ability to grind down the filed before scoring. The biggest flaw of this style of offense is that one slip up, one lapse in concentration, can make a twelve play, sixty five yard drive completely worthless. The Mids have to hold the ball and finish their drives with touchdowns and not turnovers on Saturday.

On the other side of the ball the Navy defense is going to have to find a way to turn over the Buckeyes. The Mids are obviously undersized when it comes to facing Ohio State and this means it is unlikely to expect the Navy defensive line to go toe to toe with, and beat, the Buckeyes linemen for the duration of the game. As a result Navy is going to have to create an extra possession or two during the game by making an interception or forcing a fumble. The bend but don’t break defensive philosophy the Mids have relied on in the past is going to be important. Top Stories