Preview: Navy at Rutgers

On Homecoming weekend, 4-1 Rutgers battles 2-3 Navy in a non-conference battle. On the heels of consecutive Big East wins, Rutgers looks to build even more momentum going into the heart of the conference schedule.

Navy (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1, 2-0)

Time: 2 p.m., High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
TV/Radio:, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 97.5 FM, 88.7 WRSU
Series: Tied 11-11-1
Last meeting: Sept. 20, 2008: Navy won, 23-21
Coaches: Rutgers – Greg Schiano (11th season, 63-64); Navy – Ken Niumatalolo (4th season, 29-17)


  • Nova Time. Gary Nova became the third true freshman in as many years under Schiano to start a Big East football game. Nova made mistakes in the 34-10 victory over Pittsburgh, but his final stat-line (11-for-24, 173, two touchdowns) was solid. Schiano named Nova the starter Monday and prepared this week entirely with the first team.

  • Hot Streak. Rutgers is on a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2009. Rutgers is off to a 2-0 start and in first place in the Big East for the first time since 2006. Led by the speedy defense, the Scarlet Knights received votes in a top 25 poll this week and could crack the list with a convincing win over Navy.

  • Desert Swarm. The swarm is back in a big on the Rutgers defense. With Schiano calling the plays and a series of offseason moves to improve team speed, Rutgers is tied for best in the nation with 22 forced turnovers, second in sacks per game (4.0), fifth in tackles for loss (8.5) and fifth in red-zone defense.

Scouting Navy

Offensively, Navy is one of two teams Rutgers faces this season that runs the triple option. In the triple option attack, Navy averages 575.4 all-purpose yards per game and an NCAA best 366 per game rushing. The Midshipmen also have a history of catching teams napping in the pass, hitting at least a 26-yard in all of the last four games.

Fullback Alexander Teich
Defensively, Navy is off its game the last few weeks. After limiting FCS powerhouse Delaware to 17 points and South Carolina to 21 points, the Midshipmen gave up 35 to Air Force and an abysmal 63 to Southern Miss in consecutive losses. Against Southern Miss, Navy surrendered 421 rushing yards. The Mids gave up 334 to Air Force the week before.

Matchup to Watch
Rutgers CB Logan Ryan vs Navy WR Brandon Turner. Navy needs to hit at least one big play to overcome the Rutgers defense. Ryan and the cornerbacks cannot fall asleep against Turner and the Navy receivers. Turner averages 27.2 yards per reception this year with a long of 43 yards.

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Establish the run. If Rutgers cannot run the ball against the Navy defense, then it is a very bad sign. Navy gave up more than 220 rushing yards in each of the last three games. Jawan Jamison continues to work hard as the starter and Savon Huggins got some confidence back last week with 10 runs for 42 yards. That has to continue against the Midshipmen.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
Force Turnovers.As Schiano likes to say, Navy practices the triple option every single day. Opponents practice against it one or two weeks per year. Any team that thinks it is prepared for the triple option is wrong. Rutgers will get caught off guard once or twice and needs to force turnovers and swarm the ball to balance the scales.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
Kaleb Johnson
1. Solidarity on the Offensive Line. It is hard to establish chemistry with linemen changing positions and between first and second teams each week. Rutgers may never find the right five this season, but the closer to five players separating themselves as starters, the better for the Scarlet Knights.

2. Use the Size Advantage. Only one of Navy's top four cornerbacks stands above 5-foot-10. Rutgers needs to use the size and athleticism offered by receivers Mohamed Sanu, Mark Harrison and Brandon Coleman to move the ball down field.

3. No Interceptions. Gary Nova has not thrown an interception yet this season. The longer he keeps that streak going, the more trust he soaks up from his coaching staff and teammates.

Three keys for a Navy win
1. Protect the Football. Navy's running game allows the Mids to control time of possession and move the ball efficiently. The Rutgers defense is No. 1 in the country with 10 fumble recoveries, meaning Navy has a tough task tomorrow afternoon.

2. Defend the Run. Navy's run defense gives up 220 yards per game. Rutgers averages just below 80 per game and 2.1 per attempt. Something has to give.

3. Work to the Outside. Navy and other option teams have a history of beating the defense up the middle. With Scott Vallone and Justin Francis playing at high levels, Navy may be better off looking for other gaps to run the ball.

Football 101
To help familiarize the less rabid fans with the X's and O's of college football, break down a factor relevant to each game before kickoff. This week, we break down the "triple-option offense," which Navy executes to perfection.

The triple option is a run-based offense that relies on trickery and confusion to gain yardage. Some see the triple option as antiquated or "cute," but it works well for the service academics like Navy.

At its core, the triple option has the quarterback take a snap under-center. He can then hand the ball off to his fullback between the tackles, run the ball himself or pitch it to one of his two running backs in the formation. Passes are rare in the triple option, but often catch defenses off-guard for big plays.

Rutgers, 27, Navy 13

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