Three Keys Revisited Navy vs Rutgers

The Navy Mids fell to 2-2 on the season as they were unable to rally back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit on Saturday afternoon against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights used their strong rushing game, and incredibly stout defensive front, to keep Navy from every really getting into the flow of their game.

Getting down to the Rutgers six yard line in the final minute, the Mids were unable to force the ball into the end zone as a series of passes resulted in sacks or incompletions. Navy now gets to prepare for a Western Kentucky team who held the Mids to by far their worst offensive performance in 2013. Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Ease Keenan Reynolds back in - Fail

There is no clouding the fact that Keenan Reynolds was just off on Saturday. He finished the day with 231 passing yards and three total touchdowns, but despite claims to the otherwise coming out of the locker room his knee was clearly still an issue. Playing with a knee brace is never easy and Reynolds seemed to lack those quick, lateral cuts which have come to define his option style. More telling though, was that Reynolds was clearly making basic mental mistakes which he just does not usually do.

Those missed reads, the fumble which led directly to a Rutgers field goal, and the minute pauses which let the offense get slightly out of shape, do not happen with a healthy Reynolds in the game. It seems fair to suggest at this point that the knee injury was more significant that was first reported and that it might be a few weeks before we see Reynolds back to his electric and game changing best.

2) Win the rushing war – Fail

Though Reynolds was less effective than usual as the leader of the option there was so much going wrong on Saturday in the run game that it is hard to blame all the issues on him. Navy rushed for 171 yards (by far a season low) on 43 carries, averaging 4 yards per attempt. While these numbers are not bad for most teams the Mids need more than that out of the rushing game to stand any chance in games against power conference opposition.

The slot blacks actually did some damage against Rutgers, but the inside runs were taken away early and never came back. The hard running Noah Copeland for example put up just 19 yards on six carries, while Reynolds was hit repeatedly on his was to just 25 yard rushing on 19 totes. The Rutgers interior defense was the difference maker on Saturday as the defensive tackles and linebackers added to their growing reputation with stop after stop using an unexpected combination of size and speed to make their mark on the game.

On the other side of the ball the Mids defense was gashed by the Scarlet Knights runners to the tune of 284 yards on the ground at 5.1 yards per carry. This was despite starter Paul James going out with a torn ACL in the first half. Navy will have to find a way to be stouter against the run as the season moves along or the ability to control tempo which this offense thrives on will disappear.

3) Better kicking from Nick Sloan - Fail

Mids kicker Nick Sloan went from 2-for-4 before the game on field goals attempted this fall to 3-for-6 after the game. This 50 percent kicking average is still not good enough and it did hurt Navy on Saturday. If Sloan makes his 41-yard attempt in the middle of the first quarter, a distance which is not unthinkable for a college kicker, then the Mids go up 10-0. Instead the kick is missed and Rutgers took advantage of the short field to tie the game at seven. The kicking game is an afterthought until it doesn’t work properly. Right now the Navy kicking game is not working and that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Top Stories