Navy is now officially slumping after losing 34-26 to Temple in Philadelphia. Here is the report card:
Rushing Offense: D-
This might have been the Mids worst rushing performance of the season. Not a lot went right for Navy on the ground here and the team was unable to break any of the big runs that are a hallmark of the triple-option offense when it is working efficiently. Zach Abey did leave the game hurt, but this was late on in the contest and well after the result had been decided.
The Mids rushed for just 136 yards on Thursday night, more than 200 yards short of their average for the season. Abey is so often the catalyst for this attack to get going, yet he managed just 60 yards on 25 carries before leaving. He was never able to break the big run – his longest attempt was just 14 yards – as the Temple defense outworked the Navy blockers and won the collisions at the point of attack. Navy couldn’t even muster a single rushing touchdown against the Owls.
Passing Offense: B-
The Navy passing attack was much better than usual on Thursday. The one caveat to this is that the Owls were playing a lot of deep coverage defense in the second half after establishing a 31-13 lead – latter to be pushed to 34-13 – giving Navy open looks underneath while making sure there was no way they were going to be beaten over the top.
It was clear early that the Mids would have to pass successfully to have a shot against Temple. The box was loaded on every singlr running play with eight and nine men, choking up the space and giving Navy no open lanes to run through. A trick play pass from Malcolm Perry to Zach Abey was good for one touchdown, while Garret Lewis did some nice work in relief of the Navy starting quarterback, passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Abey also had a better than normal day passing, going 6-of-9 for 111 yards, but ending the game with a bad pick when Navy was chasing points.
Rushing Defense: C+
The Navy rushing defense actually played pretty well against Temple. The Owls rushed 28 times for 104 total yards. Their best running back was actually wide receiver Isaiah Wright who had 40 yards on four carries. The majority of those came on one play where he was able to skirt around the Navy defense for a 29-yard game.
The Mids completely shut down the Owls No. 1 option in the running game. Ryquell Armstead made just 26 yards on his 14 carries as he was continually stuffed and dragged down for no gain. Armstead rushed for 151 yards against Army last time out, but Navy managed to make Temple one dimensional with their ability to shut down the run
Passing Defense: F
Making a team one dimensional is the key to winning football games. The issue is that the one dimension then has to be shut down or bad things will happen. Navy made Temple commit to the pass by taking Armstead and the rushing attack away, then they couldn’t finish the task as backup quarterback Frank Nutile went wild, slinging the ball around at will like he was the second coming of Brett Favre.
Nutile passed for four touchdowns (with one interception) as he completed 22-of-30 for 289 yards. With starting cornerback Tyris Wooten missing the game for a violation of team rules, Nutile picked on Elijah Merchant, Khaylan Williams, and Noruwa Obanor, often passing to either Adonis Jennings (five catches, 127 yards, two TDs) or Keith Kirkwood (seven catches, 87 yards, one TD) who always seemed to be wide open.
Special Teams: D
It didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but it is not a good look when an extra point attempt is blocked. Bennett Moehring was a perfect on both his field goal attempts, but his day was soured when his second extra point attempt was denied by the Owls special teams unit. The block made the score 34-19 with just under six minutes to go and a comeback was already looking unlikely, but any momentum the Mids had picked up with the score was instantly wiped away in one play.
Ken Niumatalolo is rarely outcoached, but Temple and head coach Geoff Collins got the better of the great Navy coach on this occasion. The biggest problem was that with some much time to prepare for the triple-option – and having seen Army just a couple of weeks ago – the Owls seemed to know exactly what play Navy was running before the ball was snapped. Niumatalolo went to the trick play well because he had to as the Owls completely stopped the Navy rushing attack. This was not a good day for the Navy program and the team needs to bounce back quickly with a win next weekend.