Thoughts on Navy Football’s Win Against Wagner

This Saturday Navy was able to get in the win column for the first time this season as they took down the Wagner Seahawks 24-0. While the game was closer than some anticipated, it was nonetheless a solid victory for the Midshipmen and there were some positives to take away from the game.

1. Offensive Versatility

Saturday saw the Midshipmen gain 163 yards through the air on just 18 attempts. That might not be very impressive for most college offenses, but considering the Mids only averaged 10.5 passes per game last year, nearly doubling that number is eye opening.

Against Notre Dame, the Irish were able to take advantage of the lack of versatility by Navy. We saw Notre Dame consistently stack the box, outnumbering Navy at the line of scrimmage, slowing down the option attack. Navy had some opportunities to throw the ball down field but weren’t able to connect as it was obvious the passing game needed work.

On Saturday Navy was able to connect on some of those plays down the field, but more importantly, they showed them enough to make the defense respect the downfield threat. Too often Notre Dame was able to keep their safeties just around 10 yards off the line of scrimmage pre-snap in run support as the Midshipmen wide receivers weren’t able to threaten over top. But on Saturday the threat of deep routes and passing attempts pushed the Seahawk defense back and in turn opened up bigger gains in the option attack.

Navy doesn’t have to become an elite or even good passing attack, but they need to be able to threaten it enough to force defenses to respect it and in turn open up larger gains when Navy does run the ball.

2. Strong Defensive Performance

Coming into the game we knew that the Seahawks would want to throw the football and test the Navy secondary. Sam Hartman was able to get pretty much whatever he wanted for Notre Dame but the veteran secondary for Navy rebounded in this performance.

The group was able to play tight coverage consistently, holding the Seahawks to just 143 yards passing and only 4.1 yards per attempt. Rayuan Lane III was also able to come up with a clutch interception late in the first half that set up the Midshipmen offense to go out and score a touchdown before the end of the half.

The competition will only get better from here but this was a great performance to build on heading into conference play on Thursday night.

3. Areas for improvement

Despite the inferior competition that Wagner posed, there were still times where Navy lacked speed on both sides of the ball. We saw a few times where Navy got burned while trying to disguise coverages on defense. While they ended up as minimum gains, those mistakes could turn into big plays as Navy gets into AAC competition.

The Navy offense was also forced to settle for field goals three times in this game, and worse, only making one of three field goal attempts including a blocked kick on a 31 yard attempt.

The key for Navy is always going to be to play consistent and disciplined football. The margin for error is so small for any team running the triple option offense. This Thursday will be a test to say the least as Navy heads into Memphis as 14 point underdogs. But this team can always present problems in game planning and execution for opponents and if they take care of business on their end, they have a chance against a lot of teams in the country.

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