Three Keys Revisited Navy at Temple

What looked like it would be a laugher on paper before the season began turned out to be anything but on Saturday afternoon. Temple proved that their opening weekend win over SEC foe Vanderbilt was no fluke as they took Navy down to the wire in Philadelphia.

It may have taken a last play stop to solidify the victory, but Navy moves to 1-1 on the season with a hard fought victory which will serve the Mids well as the season progresses. Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Limit mistakes and turnovers – Fail

The mistakes started early for the Mids on Saturday as the very first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble which the Owls recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The play was all on Keenan Reynolds who made a terrible decision to pitch the ball after he had Temple defender Sharif Finch in no man’s land. Finch was able to bat the ball down and fall on it for a quick and easy touchdown. This is exactly the kind of play that Navy cannot have as we continue the season if the team it so be successful.

That play was one of three on the day where Navy fumbled the ball and Temple recovered. If you also add in the Nick Sloan missed field goal which could have sealed the game then Navy effectively turned the ball over four times. Expect ball security, and field goal attempts, to be big in practice this week as the Mids try to tighten up their offensive execution as the season progresses.

2) Rush for more than 350 yards – Pass

When Navy was able to keep hold of the ball Temple had no answer. After the Ohio State game last week when Navy ran all over one of the best defensive lines in the nation we speculated that this could be a seriously dominant year for the triple option attack. If week two is anything to go by then we may well see some records falling by the time 2014 is all said and done.

Navy got it done on the ground in every way. Reynolds hopped and danced his way to a ho hum 173 yards and two touchdowns at an average of 8.2 yards per carry. Fullbacks Noah Copeland and Chris Swain combined for another 154 yards on the ground, while slot backs Geoffrey Whiteside and DeBrandon Sanders both averaged into double digits per carry. Basically the Navy offense toyed with the Temple defense bringing both the thunder and the lightning and finishing with a team rushing total of a ridiculous 487 yards.

3) Break some big plays - Pass The first Navy touchdown drive of the day had as many big plays as the Mids put up in the entirety of the game against Ohio State. After opening the possession with a 34 yard pass to Jamir Tillman, Reynolds spotted a gap on an option read and tore off for a 48 yard touchdown scamper. That play was the kind he could not manage against the speed and pursuit of the Buckeyes, but is something we should see much more of as the Mids move through their schedule. Reynolds also ripped off another huge run (56 yards) later in the first quarter to set up another touchdown run.

The way the option attack works is that these big gain plays are usually converted into touchdown drives as defenses struggle to adjust on the fly to the concepts being called. In a wear you down offense the 20+ yard gainers are hugely important and the Mids have the ability in their runners and blockers to break more of these on a week by week basis.

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