Five Things To Watch: Navy versus Towson

One of my pet peeves is a game preview that offers "Things to Watch," and then lapses into things that are true for every game—i.e. "converting third downs." Technically, almost any team has to convert third downs to win a game. So I'm trying to make these write-ups more specific to Navy and Towson and their game on Aug. 30. Anyway, hope you enjoy.

5. Where the Game Matters Most

This is Towson's first game against a BCS team. According to the school's web site, Towson's allotment of tickets is sold out. The school is running buses for students to and from the game. I even overheard the Towson AD mentioning something about the game to Navy AD Chet Gladchuk. This happened prior to the 2006 NCAA lacrosse playoffs. (The Towson AD was the NCAA representative at the game.) Make no mistake, the Tigers will be excited. Navy had better match that enthusiasm.

 

4. Hitting the Ground Running

Navy has a ton of experience in the backfield even though Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is not playing due to a hamstring injury, according to the Annapolis Capital. Bryant at quarterback, Shun at slot and Kettani at fullback all have played extensively in their careers. This experience won't necessarily help with audibles; the still-young offensive line needs to be on board with those, too. Where that experience will help the most is post-snap, on things like option pitches and option reads.

 

3. Navy's Secondary

Towson throws the ball a ton with QB Sean Schaefer (#13). Last year, it threw 427 passes and ran the ball 282 times (the total number of carries minus the 39 sacks of the quarterback, which count as runs in college).

 

I'm interested to see if Navy blitzes and, if so, how much and with whom. Blitzing teams usually leave single coverage on the outside receivers. Towson's leading receiver, Marcus Lee (#16), has good size (6-feet-2, 202 pounds).

 

So see who defends him and how they do. I don't think Navy switches defensive backs to a specific receiver except in an emergency—the second half of the Duke game last year comes to mind. Then, Kevin Edwards held Eron Riley pretty much in check following Riley's excellent start.

 

Lee is probably a pretty close approximation to some of the top receivers Navy will see from Rutgers, Pitt, etc. Size-wise, Edwards is a good matchup.

 

2. The Rotation among the Offensive Linemen

Navy uses a rotation of three guards, three tackles but only one center. (For continuity purposes on snapping the ball.)

 

So I'm curious to see if Andy Lark (#53) or Mike Van Bargen (#64) is the third guard and to see who is the third tackle behind McGinn (#75) and Battipaglia (#61). Especially if the weather is hot, we may find out sooner rather than later.

 

 1. Ricky Moore at Center

The situation this year is an oddity because Moore (#68) is six inches taller than starting QB Jarod Bryant. Moore is 6-feet-4, Bryant is 5-10.

 

Usually it's more likely that the quarterback will be a lot taller than the center. So watch the snaps from center. Also watch Moore as a drive blocker. Nebraska's and Navy's good option teams generally had centers who were 6-feet-2, more fireplug-style players. (Picture Antron Harper last year or Aaron Taylor, the 6-2, 300 pound center for Nebraska's national title team in 1997.)

 

That Moore is tall is a bit unusual for a center because pad level is so important there. Though he is similar to all great centers in that he has very good lower body strength.

 

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