The Scarlet Knights are trying to bounce back from a 13-10 heartbreaker on Saturday against Penn State, which was a game they should have won and which would have stated their arrival in that conference. Expect Rutgers to come out of the gate hard in this one with a point to prove. Here are the three keys.
1) Ease Keenan Reynolds back in
By all accounts Keenan Reynolds should be good to go on Saturday, giving Navy their star player back for one of the tougher games left on the schedule. Given that his knee injury did keep Reynolds out of the last game, however, it is reasonable to think that he is probably not yet up to full speed. With Reynolds legs and his running ability being his greatest asset it will be interesting to see if the game plan is tinkered with a little to protect him early in the game.
Reynolds knee injury may result in us seeing more fullback dive plays early in the game. The problem with his ailment is that it will be thoroughly tested both by making cuts in the open field and by getting hit and tackled in tight spaces. With any luck the knee will be no issue at all, but at first expect to see the full range of inside runs and pitches to test the Rutgers defense.
2) Win the rushing war
The battle for this game will be when Navy has the ball and the unstoppable force of the Mids rushing attack meets the immovable object which is the Rutgers defensive front. Navy may have rumbled along for 370 yards against fellow Big Ten member Oho State, but the Rutgers front seven is shaping up to be one of the more surprising units in the country. Last week the Scarlet Knights held a Penn State team which loves to run the ball to just 64 yards on 33 carries. That would be an average of just 1.9 yards per rush.
Obviously, the Mids present a very different challenge when it comes to slowing down the run. The triple option look is something Rutgers does not see, as opposed to the standard looks which they were given by Penn State. To put it simply the Mids are the best at what they do in the country. Rutgers has been game planning for this game since training camp in the summer, but there is nothing like facing the speed and precision of the Navy option in person. If the Mids can out scheme the Scarlet Knights and put up 250-300 yards on the ground it should be enough for a win.
3) Better kicking from Nick Sloan
Navy kicker Nick Sloan is 2-for-4 on field goals in 2014. You cannot win games against the better teams on your schedule with a kicker converting just 50 percent of the time. Any missed field goal is the equivalent of a turnover and in some ways is worse because the momentum swing which comes with seeing points get thrown away can be devastating. A Sloan miss cost Navy big time in the Ohio State game. Let’s hope that that was his final miss against a Big Ten team this fall.
Three Keys Navy vs Rutgers
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