Three Keys Revisited Navy at Air Force

The Mids grip on the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy became far more tenuous on Saturday as they fell to a 30-21 defeat at the hands of Air Force in Colorado Springs. Navy will once again rue their mistakes, as has seemingly become the norm this season, with yet another very winnable game ending in a loss.

The Mids are 2-4 on the season and have some work to do from this point forward to even make a bowl game. Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Keenan Reynolds must find his game - Fail

Something is still not right with Keenan Reynolds. It has been a month since Reynolds injured his knee in the Temple game and it is still affecting his play on the field. Everything looked reasonably good in the first half as the Mids controlled the clock running double the number of plays the Falcons managed (43-21) and rushing for 215 yards on the ground.

The problem was that with all the domination it was still 14-14 at the break, in large part due to an interception Reynolds threw in the end zone and fumble from Reynolds which was recovered by the Falcons and turned into a touchdown of their own. In these service academy games ball security and mistake free football is a must. Navy, and Reynolds in particular, simply made too many mistakes on Saturday to beat Air Force.

2) The defense has to stop breaking - Pass

The Mids may have given up 30 points, but the defense actually played pretty well in spurts on Saturday. After giving up almost 500 yards per game in their previous two outings, the Navy defense held Air Force to 364 total yards. Of the 30 points conceded there were two touchdown drives with relatively short fields, including the one which put the game away with 35 seconds remaining after Navy had failed to recover an onside kick.

The only disappointment from the defensive side of the ball would be the lack of game changing plays. Navy lost the turnover battle 2-0 on Saturday and though the offense clearly needs to keep better control of the ball it would be nice if someone on the defense could have stripped a Falcon runner or picked off a pass. The trick play which Air Force ran for their second score of the first quarter, a wide receiver pass, will also infuriate defensive coordinator Buddy Green.

3) Better kicking from Nick Sloan - Fail

Nick Sloan missed yet another crucial field goal in a Navy loss. The final play of the first half saw Sloan miss a 38-yard field goal which would have given the Mids a 17-14 lead at the break. It was Sloan’s fifth miss on eight attempts the fall and from that point onward Navy never looked like taking the lead again. The kicking game right now is a perfect example of the Mids season as a whole. Their 78.6% kicker from 2013 has somehow turned into a 37.5% kicker over the course of a summer. There is no real explanation for what has happened here, but Sloan simply has to find a way to make these three point attempts from now on.

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