I had typed up a big long piece breaking down the Delaware game. I was ready to post it, but as I proofread it one last time I thought to myself, “Why?” Was I going to tell you guys anything that you didn’t already know? Do you really need to hear the same story again and again? This game was like every other game. The defense is incompetent. Therefore, if Navy is going to win, the offense must be flawless. It was not. Two turnovers and a holding penalty are all it took to put this game out of reach, and now Navy is staring 4-5 in the face.
As you already know, Navy’s defense is bad. They are probably the worst defense in the country right now. I don’t think that’s really up for debate. The question is where this defense ranks on a historical scale. Is this the worst defense of all time? It’s hard to do a statistical comparison because the NCAA record book doesn’t keep very many records for futility. Navy is ranked close to the bottom in both total defense and scoring defense this year. They aren’t at the very bottom because Navy’s offense is in the top 20 in both total offense and scoring offense; the lack of 3 & outs means that the defense sees fewer posessions than most teams in a game. But one statistic that the defense can’t be bailed out by the offense on is pass efficiency defense, and Navy’s performance this year HAS to be an all-time record. Navy is dead last in pass efficiency defense this year, and by an incredibly large margin. Rice is ranked #118, with a rating of 157.37. That’s pretty bad, but it’s less than three points worse than #117, Central Michigan. A quick glance down the list shows that the incremental difference between each ranking position is less than one in most cases, increasing to 1 or 2 towards the end. The difference between Rice and Navy, though, is more than 14 points! Navy isn’t even on the same planet as the rest of I-A. Navy’s pass efficiency defense rating is 171.46. To put that into perspective, the quarterback that leads I-A in pass efficiency is Tim Tebow at 176.5. That means that every quarterback that plays Navy essentially becomes Tim Tebow. The quarterback collective that has faced Navy’s defense this year has a pass efficiency rating higher than those of Graham Harrell, Brian Brohm, Dennis Dixon, and Colt Brennan. I actually feel sorry for fans of the teams we face who come out of their game against Navy thinking that their quarterback is better than he really is, like he had turned some kind of corner against the Mids. That hope always comes crashing down the following week when he faces a defense that actually forces a punt sometimes. Most offenses get a stiffer challenge from their scout team.
I don’t know football well enough to pretend like I know how to fix this mess. I don’t. I don’t even know what the problem really is. I know that we’re young and inexperienced and hurt badly by injuries, but we aren’t the first defense to face these issues. It’s one thing to be bad, but this is bad on a biblical scale. Maybe that’s it. God might be punishing us for something. Frogs, pestilence, boils, and a lousy defense. If the Severn turns red, you’ll know what’s up. You hear that, Supe? That’s God telling you to let His people go.
Which brings me to the title of this post. Temple, you suck. You must have the worst offense in history if you only gained 273 yards on this defense. Other teams gain that much in a half against Navy. For shame, Owls.
I don’t have much else to say, really. I’ll just go stream-of-consciousness style and add some of my notes from the game:
— There was a brief moment early in the game when I thought the defense was going to be OK. Delaware started a drive in bad field position after committing a penalty on a kickoff. Nate Frazier and Chris Kuhar-Pitters capped off a 3 & out with a sack. In reality, Delaware just got very conservative with their playcalling when their backs were to the goal line.
— It seemed to me that Navy blitzed more frequently in the first half than they had in earlier games. They were forced to stop when Delaware started making big gains on screen passes.
— If we’re going to send Ram Vela in on blitzes, then we might as well play defense with 10 people. He’s just too small, and he gets absorbed by the tackle every time. He’s a converted defensive back anyway. Just drop him into coverage. We’d probably be better off with him covering the TE than one of the other linebackers.
— The Nate Frazier Memorial Ulcer is in full effect.
— We should stop deferring to the second half if we win the coin toss. If the offense has to score on every posession anyway, we might as well get a leg up by scoring first.
— PJ’s playcalling had a definite flow to it during the game. Delaware seemed like it was selling out to stop the fullback at the beginning of each drive. PJ answered with the toss sweep. Once Delaware would adjust to that, PJ would fake the toss sweep and give to the fullback on the dive. That play would be good for 7-8 yards almost every time, including Adam Ballard’s 55-yard TD rumble.
— Apparently Kaipo is still hurt. Usually PJ doesn’t even bother to hand the ball off at the goal line, preferring instead to keep things simple and have the quarterback run it in. On Saturday, the fullbacks got a lot more goal line carries than usual. My guess is that PJ didn’t want someone coming off of a neck injury to be putting his head down and pushing. That’s also why he came out of the game. Delaware lined up in a 4-4 most of the afternoon, with 2 CBs and a safety. The safety was spying on the whichever slotback went in tail motion. PJ tried to run the counter option to throw the safety off, but it didn’t work too well; the counter option is more of an adjustment based on line play rather than the secondary. Since the counter option wasn’t working, PJ switched to the midline option. With the safety covering the slotback, PJ essentially took the safety out of the play by forcing him to cover someone who isn’t going to get the ball (in the midline, the motion slotback is a blocker). The midline is a tough, up-the-middle kind of play, not suited to someone who has an injured neck and isn’t inclined to put his head down and take a hit. Jarod has been a little more comfortable running inside than Kaipo anyway, so the switch made sense based on what Delaware was doing.