Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Three Keys Revisited: Navy at Memphis

The Mids took a huge step toward the American Athletic Conference title game and potentially a New Year’s Six spot with a massive victory over Memphis on Saturday evening.

Memphis, fresh off of a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings and undefeated to this point, was simply no match of a Navy squad which was faster, more efficient and hungrier in all phases of the game. The win moved the Mids to 7-1 on the season and is the best start for the team in more than a decade.

Here is a look back at how Navy defeated Memphis:

1) Navy’s rushing offense vs Memphis defense - Pass

This was a dominating display by the Mids rushing attack against a defense that was supposed to stand up and offer some resistance to the option attack. Memphis was able to contain Keenan Reynolds for the most part, holding the quarterback to just 38 yards and zero touchdowns as he now must wait another week to become the sole record holder for rushing touchdowns in a career. Reynolds, however, did an outstanding job of getting the ball to his playmakers and it was the work of Chris Swain, especially, going straight up the middle which Memphis failed to cope with. Swain ran the ball 18 times for 108 yards and three touchdowns as the Mids carried to the ball 66 times on the day for 374 yards and five scores.

2) Stop Paxton Lynch dominating in the air – Pass

Lynch put up solid numbers, but the Navy defense was able to stand strong and deny him the kind of high end game he needed to lead Memphis to victory against an inspired Navy team. Lynch came into the game averaging 339 yards and with 18 touchdowns to just one interception. On Saturday he got his yards (305), but was only able to turn that into a one touchdown and one interception performance. The speed and coverage ability of the Navy defense seemed to confuse Lynch as he often threw bad passes which he has avoided for the most point in 2015. Lynch only competed 62-percent of his passes, down from his usual mark of 70-percent. This plus a lack of big plays outside of the 60-yarder to Daniel Montiel was the story of the game.

3) Get a lead and play clock management – Pass

This is a pass, just not in the way it was initially intended. The best way for Navy to win this game was always going to be to get a lead and play some clock management as the game wore on. Ideally that lead would have come early, but a four play drive for a touchdown by Memphis on their first possession ended any chance of that. Navy, however, was seven points up by half time and was able to answer a 15 play Memphis drive for a touchdown early in the third quarter with a quick strike, one play touchdown through the air to a wide open DeBrandon Sanders on the very next play. This was the play that seemed to take the wind out of the Tigers sails and as the game entered the fourth quarter there was only going to be one winner. The Mids absolutely controlled the final period against a tiring Memphis team and when the final whistle blew Navy had held the ball for almost 37 minutes of the contest.

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