Methodical Navy Faces Quick-Strike Indiana
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Indiana hopes to speed up the game. Navy wants to slow it down.
Two dramatically contrasting offensive styles will be on display Saturday when the Hoosiers face the Midshipmen for the first time since 1986.
Second-year Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has devised a potent attack predicated on running a high number of plays with little delay. The Hoosiers (2-4) showed how effective the no-huddle system can be in last week’s 52-49 loss to Ohio State.
“Our goal is to get on the ball very quickly and dictate to the defense,” Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. “We want to keep the defense back on its heels and make it adjust to what we’re doing,”
Navy (3-3), on the other hand, employs a triple-option offense that is designed to methodically move the ball and take time off the clock. In a 31-13 rout of Central Michigan last Friday, the Midshipmen dominated the time of possession, 35:47 to 24:13.
“The blueprint for our success was this past game: Run the ball, eat the clock,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “That’s how we’ve got to win.”
Indiana leads the Big Ten and is ranked 15th nationally in passing offense (313 yards per game). The Hoosiers stand second in the conference (22nd nationally) in total offense (473 yards) and third (32nd) in scoring offense (35.5 points).
“There are so many things they do well and they do it all very quickly. They operate at a high tempo so you really have to be ready to play,” Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. “They are very good at what they do. They’re going up and down the field against everybody. They’ve scored a ton of points and put up a lot of yards in every game.”
Indiana has displayed quick-strike capability — 24 of its scoring drives this season have lasted three minutes or less. The Hoosiers have produced 14 touchdown drives under 90 seconds, nine of which covered at least 70 yards in six or fewer plays. Wilson’s innovative approach has the team running a play every 20.6 seconds.
“It’s a really, really good offense. They’re very talented at all positions and have a complete package,” Green said. “They really keep you off balance with all the different phases of the offense. If you over-play the pass, they gash you in the running game.”
Tre Roberson opened the season as the starting quarterback for Indiana but suffered a broken leg in the second game against Massachusetts. Junior college transfer Cameron Coffman took over and has been solid in four games as the starter, completing 108 of 172 passes for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns.
Shane Wynn is the top target with 31 receptions for 294 yards and five touchdowns.
Niumatalolo announced this week that freshman Keenan Reynolds is Navy’s starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, saying “it’s his job to lose.” Reynolds replaced injured starter Trey Miller against Air Force two weeks ago and led the Midshipmen to a come-from-behind overtime victory. The Tennessee native started at Central Michigan and become the first Navy quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a game since Chris McCoy in 1997.
Slotback Gee Gee Greene has been the most consistent weapon for Navy, now 14th in the national rankings with 233 yards rushing per game. Greene, who has 292 yards rushing and 152 yards receiving, is averaging almost 10 yards every time he touches the ball.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)