One part of the formula Navy’s used to succeed for the last few years is ball control.
Yes, the Midshipmen can rip off long runs. But at their best, they often milk the clock and play a game of keep-away that can demoralize opponents.
Navy’s rolled to victories in its first two games, but it hasn’t followed quite the same blueprint. Only one of the Mids’ drives so far has lasted at least 10 plays, an early tendency that stuck out to offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper as he went through a self-scout this week.
Last year, Navy had 27 possessions of double-digit plays in 13 games.
“I kind of go through the play by play and last game there were a lot of ‘four plays, 19 yards’ and ‘three plays, 10 yards,’” Jasper said. “There were about four or five of them in a row when we had to punt the ball. People don’t see that. I go through that [and say] ‘Wait a minute, I thought we played better than this.’ That kind of alarms you. We’d rather see 12-play, 80=yard drive [or] 15-play, 90-yard drives [for] touchdowns.”
The flip side, though, is Navy is producing a significant number of big gains —- abetted, perhaps, by an ultra-aggressive Western Kentucky defense in last week’s 40-14 victory. Navy has 16 runs of at least 12 yards, plus six passes of at least 16 yards.
Those lead to points —- and big leads —- rather quickly, even if it isn’t necessarily in character.
“The more big plays the merrier,” quarterback Kriss Proctor said. “We still have to be ourselves and make long nine-play drives, 15-play drives, eat up the clock. That’s really how we’re going to win games this season.”
Jasper echoed a similar sentiment. He’s not about to fret too much about massive gains, though he acknowledged it is something different than what he’s accustomed to while running the Navy offense.
“It’s been a big-play start for us, and I’m not complaining about that,” Jasper said. “I’ll take that. It’s just when you’re used to driving the ball down the field and chewing up clock, it’s like ‘Wait a minute.’”
—- Patrick Stevens