Three Keys Revisited Navy vs Western WKU

The Mids are probably pretty happy to see the back of the Hilltoppers. After shutting down the Navy offense in a win a year ago, this time Western Kentucky opened up its own scoring machine to work over the bend but don’t break principles of the Mids defense and pick up another victory.

With Navy moving to the AAC next year and the Hilltoppers plying their trade in Conference USA, the only chance these two will have to meet in the near future is in a bowl game. Navy would probably be okay with that not happening either. Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Average more than four yards per carry – Pass

The rushing game worked well on Saturday. The various Mids rushers combined for 412 yards on 52 rushing attempts. That is good for an exceptional 7.9 yards per carry. Keenan Reynolds (121) and Noah Copeland (104 on just five carries) each eclipsed the 100 yard mark, and all four Navy touchdowns came on the ground. Throw in the fact that seven different Mids players had a run go for more than ten yards and you might be wondering how on earth Navy lost the game.

The problem was that Reynolds had quite simply his worst passing day since entering the Academy. He was 3-of-14 for 55 yards with an interception (to go with a fumble). He missed a couple of big plays when he over threw open receivers and just didn’t seem to be comfortable on his drop backs all game long. Truthfully this is a game which the Mids should have been able to close out.

2) Slow down the Western Kentucky machine – Fail

Rutgers may have put up 435 yards last week against the Mids, but Western Kentucky wandered into town and made that number look pretty standard. The highly dangerous Brandon Doughty completed 38-of-54 passes for 387 yards and the Hilltoppers just rolled over Navy at will down the stretch on their way to 551 total yards.

One of the big problems in the game for the Mids was the disparity on third down. Navy was only able to convert 2-of-11 attempts while Western Kentucky was at almost 50% on third down as they hit on 7-of-15 tries. Third down is where Reynolds passing issues really hurt the Mids as the Hilltoppers were able to sell out against the run knowing the Navy quarterback was struggling so much. Navy needs to be much better than 18% on third down against the better offenses on their schedule.

3) Better kicking from Nick Sloan - Fail

Another day, another breakdown in the Navy kicking game.

Nick Sloan is now 3-of-7 on field goal attempts this season, the latest on a 28 yard chip shot. Sloan’s confidence must be at rock bottom, but he has to find a way to get out of his slump and start making these gimme points. This miss game with the Mids up 21-19 and a five point cushion in the third quarter would have altered the play calling by both teams from that point forward. The miss also led to a shift in field positon with the Hilltoppers eventually taking a 22-21 lead which they never gave up. Western Kentucky kicker Garrett Schwettman by comparison was 3-for-3 on the day making kicks of 37, 36, and 33 yards.

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