Navy Football Loses Close Game to Memphis
Navy Football lost a close game to Memphis last night. It was a heartbreaking loss that came down to the final play. Despite the disappointment it was a valiant effort from the Midshipmen with a lot of positive takeaways as well as some things to clean up.
1. Explosive Offense
The Navy offense looked great last night. Any team having to defend the triple option on one week of preparation is going to have problems. Doing so on a short week of preparation is just unfair. Memphis made some mistakes on defensive assignments last night that sprung big plays for Navy. Fullback Alex Tecza was the beneficiary of this as he had a few huge rushes early.
We also saw a lot of missed tackling by the Tigers’ defense that allowed moderate rushes to turn into explosive plays. More importantly for Navy however, we saw a team that looked fairly competent passing the ball Thursday night. Navy attempted 20 passes last night for 133 yards. There were some missed throws and drops, but there was enough in the passing game to force Memphis to respect its threat.
Navy is never going to be an air it out offense. But when they can do what they did last night and run bubble screens that stretch the field horizontally and glance routes that push the safeties back it opens up the run game by pulling defenders out of the box. I believe that Navy is going to need to throw the ball about 15 times a game to really open up the field for themselves. You could see the effects last night as Memphis was put into conflicts all game. They were forced to play their assignments perfectly and when they made a mistake Navy was easily able to capitalize.
2. Strong Defensive Play
Navy did a great job on defense most of the night. They played great in the secondary and really slowed down the Memphis passing attack. Even more impressive is the defensive backs spent a lot of the night in man coverage with no help overtop. They proved that they could handle the pressure and Rayuan Lane came up with a big interception late. When Memphis did make throws they were into tight windows against tremendous coverage.
The pass rush also did a great job of generating pressure. Navy consistently stacked the line of scrimmage and disguised coverages and blitzes. This put a ton of pressure on the offensive line for Memphis and despite there being only two sacks, the Midshipmen spent a ton of time in the Tiger backfield. This took away time to throw and really neutralized a strong air attack coming into the game.
3. One Too Many Mistakes
I don’t think it is right to say that Navy beat themselves, but there were a lot of unforced mistakes last night that ultimately cost them the game. This has to start with missed tackles. Navy was in position to make plays all night defensively but we saw a lot of missed tackles that turned what would have been short gains into big plays for the Tigers.
Navy also fumbled the ball three times, two of which they lost. These kind of mistakes can’t happen for the Mids if they want to win in a tough environment on the road. The positive however is that these are self imposed mistakes and easily fixable week to week.
While last nights loss is a heartbreak Navy has to feel great about the outcome. They were huge underdogs coming in and nearly pulled off the upset. Memphis is one of the hardest places to win in college football and Navy came ten yards away from doing just that. Navy returns home to take on USF next week.