You know, somewhere there’s a Navy fan that had a wedding or something to go to on Saturday, so he could only catch the beginning of the game. After watching a Navy touchdown drive and two Western Kentucky three & outs, he probably walked out the door thinking “we got this” and didn’t give the game a second thought the rest of the night. When he looked at the box score the next morning, he discovered that in the 9 minutes he watched of that game, he saw 1/3 of Navy’s total offensive production. I don’t know if he’s lucky to have missed that debacle, or unlucky to experience the shock the next day.
Either way, we all get to relive it now!
WKU spent most of the game in a 5-man front, although they did so in two different ways: one with a 0 technique:
And one without:
In the latter, they stepped the 0-tech back into a two-point stance next to a linebacker. At the snap, one would step up and rush into the backfield, while the other would step back as a LB and read the play.
On Navy’s first drive, the triple was working well. On the first play, the playside guard is responsible for blocking the MLB. The slotback takes #3, which leaves the playside tackle free to block the safety in the middle of the field. Since the MLB is keying on the FB dive, the play works great.
On the second play, the MLB keyed on the pitch instead of the dive, so the guard couldn’t get to him. When the pitch man was forced back inside, the MLB was there to meet him.
Coach Jasper adjusted by having the playside tackle help out the guard in blocking the MLB. The tackle would check the MLB first before moving on to the safety. To make up for the possibility of not having the safety accounted for, Coach Jasper also split the slotback out wider. Doing so made #3 treat the PSA more like a receiver. He backpedaled, which allowed the PSA to block him and then move on to the safety. It resulted in Navy’s longest run of the afternoon:
In response, WKU’s coaches would blitz #3 off and on for the rest of the game.
It was all downhill from there. The rest of the game was a mashup of missed assignments, and missed opportunities on every drive.
The Mids’ next drive was squashed on two plays. The first was a toss sweep on second down. The cornerback blitzed, and the slot picked him up like he was supposed to. That means the wide receiver should now pick up the safety, but the safety was 1. lined up 6 yards from the line of scrimmage, and 2. appeared to have recognized the toss and was already running to the play at the snap. The WR couldn’t get to him, and the play was blown up.
On 3rd down, Coach Jasper set up a rub route that left the WR wide open on a crossing pattern for an easy first down, but Keenan threw a bad pass.
On the next drive, Navy had a 3rd & 3. WKU’s safeties were lined up only 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. Coach Jasper called play-action to take advantage, but again, Keenan overthrew the slotback.
The next drive was when Keenan got hurt. That play was another triple option. Again, the cornerback blitzed. The slotback picked him up, but he didn’t get the CB on the ground. That should have been OK though, since both #1 and #2 played the fullback. Keenan made the right read to keep, and cut upfield for what should have been a big gain. Unfortunately, the playside guard appears to get tripped up by the center, and can’t get his block on the linebacker that ultimately makes the tackle:
With Keenan hurt, John Hendrick came into the game. The offense wasn’t exactly a well-oiled machine up to this point, and it certainly didn’t get any better afterward. Hendrick has taken most of the criticism for this, but a lot of it is undeserved. Go back to that second picture I posted. What do you see? Nine men in the box? Safeties 6-7 yards off the line off scrimmage? This is the exact situation that the coaches described when they explained why they were introducing the shotgun. When we saw more shotgun in the second half, it wasn’t a case of the coaches completely changing the offense because the backup quarterback didn’t know the plays. It was the coaches doing exactly what they told us they were going to do. And from a schematic standpoint, it worked; the defense was spread out, leaving wide open receivers running all over the place and opening running lanes. Navy couldn’t execute well enough to take advantage.
One criticism of Hendrick that is deserved was in the passing game, where the junior quarterback couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn all afternoon. Here we have a wheel-post combination where one DB was stuck covering two receivers. Both of them were open, and hitting either of them probably would’ve resulted in a touchdown. Unfortunately, the ball was so badly underthrown that it allowed the DB to make a play:
Later, Hendrick again overthrew a wide-open slotback on a corner route:
There were other missed opportunities in the passing game. On this play, the inside slot is open on a post, but the pass goes to the wide receiver instead.
I’m not sure what the progression is supposed to be on that play so maybe it was the right call, but it’s still frustrating to watch.
Execution in the running game was just as poor. On this play, you see exactly what the coaches try to achieve with the shotgun. There is nobody in the middle of the field behind the MLB. If Chris Swain could have made one cut to beat him, he’d probably still be running. Instead, Swain slips in the backfield:
There was nothing the quarterback could do on this play, since the backside guard simply whiffed on his block:
Here’s a play that looks like a missed read, but it wasn’t even an option play. The fullback was trying to run off tackle, but the center couldn’t maintain his block.
In fairness to Western Kentucky, you could also call that a good defensive play.
Whatever you call any of this mess, the bottom line is that this was the first time the Navy offense has truly been tested with something a little different, and they failed that test miserably. It’s not the end of the world; I don’t think anyone was counting on a national championship. It is a little disheartening, though, since the games aren’t going to get any easier.
On a completely unrelated note, I am sorry to announce that this will be the last post on the blog for a little while. This is a one-man operation, so when real life gets in the way, it kind of shuts everything down. I’m not closing up shop forever, so don’t
celebrate worry. Hopefully it’ll only be for a week or two.