When senior safety Jahleel Addae was asked how he felt about not having to defend the triple option the rest of the year, he said one word: excited.
He did not say it with up–beat emotion, going on to talk about how the defense did not play ‘Chippewa’ football against Navy and how it bothered him. But the triple option clearly frustrated the Central Michigan defense this season.
In the first game of the season, Southeast Missouri State also ran that offense and put up 27 points and more than 300 total yards.
Navy not only had 372 yards Friday but controlled most of the game – keeping the CMU offense on the sideline.
“On offense, they do what they always do,” CMU head coach Dan Enos said. “I think we only ran 22 plays in the first half. They possessed the ball, and, when they possess the ball like that, it kind of chokes your offense. You feel like you have to score on every drive … it just becomes difficult.”
The Midshipmen were able to control the clock and possession with long drives. With an offense built around picking up three to four yards a play, they kept the CMU defense on the field and the offense sitting. Every Navy drive during the first two quarters was at least eight plays long, outside of running out the game clock to end the first half.
The CMU defense only forced one three-and-out, which came with 6:21 left in the game.
“It was frustrating … that’s what Navy likes to do,” Addae said.
While Navy is a run–first offense, three of the biggest plays of the game came through the air. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds threw three touchdowns, after the Midshipmen only threw for one score in their first five games.
Along with consistently gaining three to four yards a play, Navy put itself in plenty of fourth–and–short situations. The Midshipmen were 5-for-5 on fourth down tries.
Enos said all the academy schools, which run the triple option, use all four downs to their advantage.
“That makes field position so critical,” he said. “They can’t go for those fourth and ones when they are on their side of the 50.”
The rest of the season, CMU will not face another traditional triple–option offense.
“We have all conference games left,” Enos said. “We are good enough to win all of those games, but we are good enough to lose all of those games, too.”