Because Navy’s offense looks different than most other offenses you see on any given Saturday, it isn’t very widely understood. Broadcasters who call Navy games are sort of forced to fall back on the same cliches and misconceptions about the spread option that have been tossed around for years. Most of the regular readers of this blog are aware of the Five Myths, but that’s hardly an all-inclusive list. There’s plenty that can be tacked on to it. Among the items that can be added is the idea that Navy’s offense isn’t a “come from behind” offense. That’s because people think that every Navy drive takes ten minutes, and that they can’t throw the ball. So in theory, that’s the game plan to beat Navy: get an early lead, and they’ll either run out of time, or be forced to pass (which they can’t do) in order to come back.
There’s a lot that we might not be sure about when it comes to the 2010 edition of the Navy offense, but if there’s one thing we can safely say it’s that they have gone out of their way this year to show that this theory is crap. The Mids have developed the unfortunate habit of falling behind, but have managed to put together more than their fair share of furious comebacks.
- Maryland: The Terps took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but Navy tied it up by the end of the third quarter.
- Louisiana Tech: Navy trailed 23-16 at halftime, but scored 21 unanswered points in their 37-23 win.
- SMU: Held scoreless in the first half, Navy outscores SMU 28-7 in the second half to pull out the victory, 28-21.
- Duke: Looking up from the bottom of a 24-0 hole at the end of the first half, the Mids scored 31 points in the second half– 24 in the 4th quarter alone– before ultimately falling short, 34-31.
Coach Niumatalolo likes to keep the clock running by putting together long drives, but that’s by choice, not because of a limitation of the offense. Since the clock stops to move the chains after each first down in the college game, there’s no need to drop the option if you get off to a slow start. If you do want to throw the ball, half of the Navy offense is based in the run & shoot; it’s a much more robust passing game than it’s usually given credit for.
This isn’t 3 yards and a cloud of dust. The spread option isn’t a “gimmick offense,” it’s a scheme that is as capable of scoring points in a hurry as any other.