In a record setting night for both Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and San Jose State quarterback David Fales, it was the defense or lack their of that made the difference in the end. In what began as a tight contest with San Jose State leading at the half 16-10, soon exploded into an offensive frenzy for both teams, as the Spartans pass game and Navy’s run game came to life in the second half. Coming into today’s contest it was hard to ignore the contrasting styles of both teams offensively, and they key to winning today’s game would have to be how the defenses adjusted during the game, right?
Well, in tonights contest we witnessed a game flow that increased the offensive production, and depleted any kind of defense for both football teams as the game went on. Navy known for its running game, initially wanted to expose San Jose States weakness, stopping the run, and ironically that is exactly what the Spartans did in the first half. Surprisingly the Midshipmen were contained just enough to keep the Spartans on top going into the half. The Spartans displayed brut strength and toughness upfront producing big stops with the 3-4 defense and it looked like they were not overwhelmed by Navy’s rushing attack whatsoever. Something changed in the second half, and believe me Navy seen it and exposed it.
San Jose State seemingly switched up their defensive scheme up front, switching to a 2-5 attack, standing up one end and only rushing two down lineman. Why would they want to do that? Maybe they believed a speedy rusher standing rather than with his hand down would take away the option aspect of Navy’s rushing attack. Well they thought wrong because Navy’s blocking scheme, which included cut-blocking linebacker Keith Smith regularly, countered the Spartan changes up front.
Sticking to the basic front was working and the adjustment should have been reversed as soon as they realized Keenan Reynolds was taking over the game. Navy pounded the ball all night long off the left side of their line and the Spartans laid down and took it. Already being small up front initially is a bad recipe for stopping a dominant run team such as Navy, but adjusting out of a scheme that worked in the first half was a big mistake. Keenan Reynolds ran for 240 yards on 36 carries, scoring an NCAA record 7 times on the ground, adding 1 in the air. One player single handily contributed to 8 touchdowns, and only 1 of those touchdowns was in the first half.
Offensively the Spartans played well enough to win this game, as quarterback David Fales threw for a school record 440 yards and 5 touchdowns. Difference between San Jose State’s offensive attack and Navy’s is it was more than just one guy contributing. Tyler Winston caught 10 balls for 86 yards and a touchdown, while Thomas Tucker and Chandler Jones both eclipsed 100 yards receiving with a touchdown apiece. Not only was the passing game relevant today, but the run game brought a nice balance to the Spartan game plan. Jarrod Lawson ran for 98 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, while we also had a Thomas Tucker sighting which was bonus, as Tucker added 62 yards and a touchdown to the Spartans ground game.
Navy’s defense was exposed enough through the air, and on the ground to win this football game. It was the defense of San Jose State that could not contain Reynolds enough to hold on to multiple leads. In fact neither team played any kind of defense in the second half until David Fales was intercepted in triple overtime by Navy safety Parrish Gaines to seal the Midshipmen victory. Granted the Spartans did have 3 sacks of their own tonight, but lets remember the the Midshipmen passing game was irrelevant, in fact Keenan Reynolds only attempted 6 passes, completing 4 of them, for only 46 yards. Navy is a run first, run last team.
They practically dare defenses to stop them, as their is no secret to what they do, they just execute to perfection. Just as San Jose State is known to dominate in the air, adjustments in Navy’s coverage to a cover two forced the Spartans to check down, and run the ball to open up opportunities to connect downfield, and when he needed to David Fales found his receivers in the end zone. Even though Fales did toss the late interception to clinch Navy’s victory, it was not the offense that lost this game. The defense could not stop Reynolds, and the end of the game resembled a Madden ’14 tournament, rather then a College Football game, with no defense, and tons of points. Friday nights victory came down to the team who made the right defensive adjustments, while executing their offensive game-plan to perfection, and that just so happened to be Navy, not San Jose State.