Three Keys Revisited – Navy at Army

The 116th Army-Navy game ended up being one for the ages as the Mids held off a late Black Knights fightback to claim the victory and take the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy back from Air Force. The game averaged 7.13 million viewers, making it the most watched contest between the two academies in over 20 years as Navy moved to 10-2, making this one of the best seasons for the Mids in recent history.

It served as a fitting final (other than the bowl game) chapter for Keenan Reynolds who became the first quarterback to go 4-0 in this storied rivalry.

Here is a look back at the three keys:

1) Rushing domination - Push

It wasn’t true domination like the Mids have had at times this season, but the rushing attack was enough to earn a push in this key. Navy entered the game averaging 330 yards on the ground per contest. Getting up to this level however was always going to be difficult against an Army team that runs a version of the offense itself and that also has played Navy so many times that the defensive players are used to every read and every tell. Army had an interesting game plan where they took away the slot backs, who combined for two carries for a single yard, and focused on limiting the damage Reynolds could do to the outside. The end result was just 199 yards rushing on the day as a team, but that Reynolds was able to go for 136-yards and two scores on the ground.

The Navy defense certainly chipped in as the Black Knights were held to 137 yards rushing, or just one more than Reynolds managed by himself. Of particular note was how Navy refused to let the quarterback beat them on the ground as Chris Carter rushed 22 times for 18 yards, or less than a yard per carry. On the day Army was able to rush for just 3.1 yards per carry, enough to stay in the game but not enough to really hurt Navy continually on the ground.

2) Quickly adapt to whoever starts at quarterback for Army - Push

This is another push, but Navy was able to pick it up late defensively and stop Carter when the game was on the line. The Army freshman quarterback was solid through the air on the day as he went 9-of-15 for 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Army coaching staff kept it simple for Carter early, running routes with maximum protection where the young quarterback only had to read one side of the field. The result was a number of sideline completions to boost his confidence and it was noticeable that Carter has a solid passing touch. In the end however the Navy defense stepped up and grabbed a crucial fourth quarter interception from the starter before Army tried a number of strange things late in the game.

3) Get a big game out of Will Anthony - Pass

Will Anthony may not have had the same crazy stat line that he did in this game last year, but the senior was a huge presence on the field on Saturday afternoon. Anthony had seven total tackles, one tackle for a loss and a big 80yard sack which sapped some of the momentum out of Army when the game was in the balance. More than his stat line though, Anthony was the player Army were trying to key on to get their run game going and the defensive end constantly either occupied blockers or fought through them in order to allow other to make plays. It was very obvious on Saturday that Anthony was the best defensive player on the field and he certainly made his presence felt in his final rivalry game. Top Stories