The Midshipmen return eight starters on offense including JR QB Keenan Reynolds, who has started the past 27 games for the Midshipmen. Reynolds is a very disciplined as well as speedy player, who has 4.5-4.6 range. In 2013 Keenan recorded 1,346 yards on 300 caries as well going 68 for 128 through the air for 1,057 yards and a total of 39 TD's (31 rushing, 8 passing), with only 2 interceptions. In week 1 against Ohio State, Reynolds was 2-4 for 20 yards, and 23 carries for only 42 yards and a TD.
The quarterback takes a more controlling role in the triple option offense, as he must react to the defense as opposed to the defense reacting to him. The quarterback first goes into an option read with the full back who is diving into the B gap, where he must read the reaction of the D-tackle to see if he fills the gap or plays the keeper. If the QB decides to pull he turns and heads down the line of scrimmage to the flats where he must read the linebacker who is pursuing him, and let him pick his poison. If the LB takes the quarterback, then he pitches it, if he takes the RB, he keeps it and heads up field.
When defending the option, blitzing is one of the biggest things you want to avoid. While most may think that the sooner you get into the backfield, the more likely you are to disrupt the play, it is actually counter intuitive, as it will end up putting your defenders behind the play and feeding into the offense's hands. The mantra typically against and the option offense is to "play assignment football" meaning one person is assigned to the fullback, one takes the QB and another takes the RB. However, Navy is very good at switching around formations and creating assignment confusion for the defense, by pulling a TE or extra running back and using him as the pitch back instead.
A good nose guard is a great benefit, against an option offense as it gives you more ability to focus less on the fullback dive and concentrate more on stopping the outside attack. You need to have fast players in pursuit, LB's to get to the quarterback, and typically fast safeties who can close space quickly and make a stop after they cross the line of scrimmage. The option is very hard to contain, as it is difficult to not surrender at least some sort of yardage.
To limit an option offense, you have to make plays on first down, plain and simple. If the Bobcats can get Navy in third and long situations, then Reynolds will be forced to pass and come out of their comfort zone. The only way to beat Navy , is to limit the yards, and put Navy into passing downs, by using all 11 players to swarm the ball, wrap up and make tackles.
The Midshipmen had 22 first downs to OSU's 19, along with 370 yards rushing. Navy showed the ability to milk the clock as they held the ball for 12:08 in the third quarter against Ohio State. If that wasn't eye catching enough, against Temple, Navy ran for 487 yards.Another critical aspect that makes the Midshipmen so tough to beat is that they take care of the ball, despite how many times they run it. Last season Navy was tied for first in the nation, with only 10 turnovers all season. Navy will not beat themselves, and the Bobcats will have to flat-out get after it on defense, to advance to 2-0 on the season.