Navy Insider

Jim Lawler of our Navy Scout affiliate,, took time to speak with BI and give us the inside look at the Midshipmen.

What makes Jr. QB Keenan Reynolds so good?
He's probably the best option quarterback since we moved to the option after Paul Johnson took over the program. He's the best player at the position, has a great understanding of the offense. He was directing them as a freshman, he didn't even go to the prep school. He has a real good arm, good speed and he has that certain "IT" that you want in a quarterback. He can throw the ball, run the offense and he's just really efficient at doing it.

As a team, Navy has racked up 857 rushing yards in just two games. What makes it work?
The first strength that they have this year is the fact that they return some of these starters. Usually at Navy, and most academies or football programs, the offensive line is senior dominated. Especially in an option offense where you sort of have to learn to play low and cut block and play in the system. Navy returns basically all of it's offensive line from last year's bowl winning team. They return all fullbacks, only lost one slot back, so it's really a very experienced unit. They go three deep at fullback with Noah Copeland whose from Texas (San Antonio), Chris Swain a 245lb beast and then you have these really quick, slot backs. They'll run the ball against anybody.

Talk about the O-line, not the biggest, but very productive, and all upperclassmen.
They're designed for the scheme. Jake Zuzek (Sr.), at right guard is probably the best player on the offensive line. He's only 6'0" tall, he wouldn't get recruited by a Big 10 team because his arms aren't long enough for pass blocking, but he's perfect for a run blocker. The guy can bench press 500lbs, he's a beast, but he's designed for their offense. The same goes for Tanner Fleming (Sr.) at center. He battled against Ohio State's Michael Bennett, who's going to play in the NFL, an incredible player and held his own. Bradyn Heap (Sr.) is on the other end at left tackle. They're small and athletic. Their job is to get to the second level, cut out of the linebackers and get'em on the ground.

What about the running backs, a talented stable of backs, who leads the group?
You'll have two slot backs, you'll see them lined up outside the tackles. One fullback lines up in a 4-point stance behind the quarterback. The fullback is the first read and then they read the defense. In the Navy offense, for the most part you'll see, two people tend to dominate the ball or it's the quarterback and fullback. It's all about what the defense presents. If the defense tries to take away the fullback, he goes to his next read, if the linebackers come at the QB, he'll pitch the ball outside to the slot backs. He's gotta read the defense and distribute the ball.

Navy plays a 3-4 defense. Who leads the Midshipmen on that side?
LB/Striker Chris Johnson (Sr.), he's a tremendous player, incredibly athletic,it's almost like having an extra DB on the field. He's got great range, one of those guys who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

The leader and Team Captain is Parrish Gaines. He had a brilliant INT last week against Temple. He's a great player, has great range, leader of the defense, terrific athlete. Used to be a cornerback and moved him to free safety, he's really solidified the defense. Free safety is key, because with this defense, you have to keep the offense in front of you.

In watching tape on Texas State, what stands out to you about the Bobcats?
A couple of things, first, Dennis Franchione is a great coach. He's won over 200 games in a lot of places and has been a top notch coach. Eventually he'll get Texas State where it needs to be. There was a lot of talk about the offense being up tempo and having the defense, in a 4-2-5 under new DC John Thompson as more of a attacking type of defense. You watch the first game 65-0, and you're pretty much clicking on all cylinders. The interesting thing this game will be watching Michael Orakpo (Sr.), he's a tremendous player, Craig Mager (Sr.) has been around since we played last time, and David Mayo (Sr.) is a very good player.

Tyler Jones is a good quarterback, the type of QB that could give us trouble because he's a high percentage passer. He had a huge game in the opener going 21 of 25 for 4 touchdowns. It will challenge our defense and make them work.

Putting you on the spot, give us your final prediction.
It's a game I think Navy should win, 31-24, maybe 35-24 game, that's the way I see it. I think Texas State is a good team. Navy is going to have to bring their "A" game. You guys will score and Navy will get it's yards on offense. If we turn the ball over 3 times like we did at Temple, we probably will lose the game. I'm looking forward to it and I think it's going to be a great game.

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