Navy Fullbacks Breaking Out

With Navy rolling over Colgate 48-10 Mids fans are looking for more football. Unfortunately for all involved, Navy has one of the most annoying timed bye weeks of all time this season, with week two being an off weekend before the September 19 clash with East Carolina to open up conference play.

While it is quite alright to pout about the lack of Naval Academy football this weekend it gives us a great opportunity to look back at the Colgate win and focus on a position group which exceeded expectations on the day, and which can define how far Navy goes this season.

While Keenan Reynolds quite rightly gets the plaudits for his control of the triple option offense which Navy runs, the bread and butter of the formation is the fullback run. Usually this will be a straight forward fullback dive, where the back behind Reynolds crashes in the guard/center gap to bully his way for modest yardage. There are variations of course and you will see Navy running the fullback off tackle or a counter play here and there, but the role of the fullback is not as much to pick up huge yardage as it is to force defenders to stay gap sound.

If the fullback dive is not working the triple option falls apart. The linebackers can key on the quarterback and his pitch man, relying on the defensive line to stuff the fullback. This means there are always more defenders in an area than blockers and NOTHING good can happen at that point. Against Colgate, the Navy fullbacks took over the game, gashing the Raiders highly thought of front seven for 192 rushing yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns.

Colgate decided the key to beating Navy was to stop Reynolds rushing on the edge, so they took risks inside. The Mids linemen were on their game, cutting and blocking the first line of defense and giving the three Navy fullbacks, who all weigh north of 245 pounds, to get their momentum going before crashing into (and over) the Colgate linebackers and defensive backs. Ken Niumatalolo had the following to say after the game:

"We pretty much know that people want to take away [Reynolds]," Niumatalolo said. "Our thought is that we have three fullbacks who are 245 [pounds] and above. I think that is only going to continue to help Keenan and the whole offense. You can't key on Keenan, because we're going to hit you in the middle with stuff and keep people honest."

Noah Copeland may have graduated, but his understudy from the last two years had a breakout game against the Raiders. Chris Swain rushed for 126 yards (a career-high) including a 52-yard touchdown run where he showed better wheels that expected when in the open field. All this was done in the first half. While Swain will be the star this year, he was ably supported by Shawn White and Quentin Ezell. Ezell is a particularly intriguing player as 6’1” and 253 pounds, but with the ability to move like a player a good thirty pounds lighter. His two touchdown runs only hinted at what is to come.

If Navy can continue to get this kind of production for the fullbacks, and there is no reason to think they cannot, then the Mids will have an outstanding first year in the AAC.

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