Four Positives from the Ohio State Game

Navy may have lost to Ohio State on Saturday in Baltimore, but this was a game that the Mids can look back at and take positives from. It was not a beat down of the kind sometimes seen when Navy take on these top 10 level BSC schools. Rather it was a game where if one less mistake had been made, or if one ball had bounced in a different direction, the Mids could have won.

While that lends itself to a different kind of disappointment, Navy can certainly kick on from this point to have a very successful season.

Here are some of the reasons to be excited about the season:

1) The option was clicking

Ohio State has by far the strongest, and deepest, defensive line that the Mids will face all year. They run two and three deep at every position with a host of NFL caliber prospects on the depth chart. Ohio State even had the luxury of spending the summer knowing that they were going to face the option in week one of the season. Obviously they were not about to abandon their general schemes and concepts for a one week deal, but just having that extra time to prepare should (in theory) have allowed them to shut down the “one dimensional” Navy attack.

Then Saturday happened and said one dimensional attack rolled for 370 yards against the best defensive line in the nation. You don’t have to travel through many Buckeye message boards to see them in meltdown about how their run defense played. Simply put, this was not supposed to happen. The undersized Navy linemen did an outstanding job blocking in space and putting the OSU defenders on the ground, while the slot backs looked fast and dangerous in space. Keenan Reynolds, for the most part, made all the right reads and the option looks like it will be a devastating force in 2014.

2) Ken Niumatalolo’s demeanor

I think this more than anything is a huge reason to be positive. Sometimes when a team comes in as an underdog the favored team has won before a ball is kicked. You can tell by the way the Navy players held themselves both before the game and in the first five minutes of play that this was not going to be the case on Saturday. All that bleeds down from a head coach who has the ultimate faith in his team, and in his game plan, to go out there and win.

Just looking at Niumatalolo on the sideline you know he expects the best. Navy could be playing Ohio State, or they could be playing North-West Southern Oklahoma Tech, he treats the game in the same way. In Niumatalolo’s mind there was no reason that the Mids couldn’t upset the Buckeyes. When you have a coach who believes in you, and who shows his belief in his sideline manner, then you are going to give everything for him. That is exciting for players and fans alike.

3) The defense looked great

For a long stretch of this game the Navy defense went toe to toe with the Buckeyes. The pass rush, which last year was almost nonexistent, was out in force and J.T. Barrett was either being hit or running for his life for most of the first half. The Buckeyes remember had just 13 points with almost 40 minutes gone in the game before one defensive breakdown led to the 80 yard touchdown which opened the contest up. Navy knew they had to play a perfect game defensively to have a shot at the upset and up until that point they had pretty much done exactly that. If big play mistakes can be corrected then this defense can shut down most of the teams left on the schedule.

4) No injuries

Games against the BCS schools are always played at a higher intensity level than games against Navy’s other opponents. That is just the nature of the beast and you go into the game knowing that will be the case. In the past, and specifically in 2012 when Navy opened with Notre Dame and Penn State, the Mids were shorthanded for weeks after with a series of ailments taking out key contributors. That is not the case this year though as Navy got through this game relatively unscathed and can thus focus on the rest of the season healthy with a full complement of players to use.

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