Where have I been the past few days? Well, aside from trying to install a spread option offense for a six man, er, person football team that may or may not play a game on Thanksgiving, mostly I've just been hitting the books and taking some time off before we hit Army week in the coming days. Nevertheless, I found some time to steal a page from ESPN's notebook for a quick game of Navy football fact or fiction.
Northern Illinois's Offense Had As Much to Do With Navy's Defensive Improvement as the Defense Itself
Fact. This is a tough call to make because either way you slice it I think it's apparent that we saw improvement from the defense on Saturday. That being said it should be obvious by this point of the season that Navy's defense plays much better when it's against teams that play a more conservative style of offense, which the Huskies did on Saturday. Northern Illinois ran the ball 44 times against Navy, on an average of 3.4 yards per carry. As we all know, Navy's biggest defensive porblems have come against the pass, but NIU completed only 20 passes against the Midshipmen. So what does all this mean? It means that Northern Illinois ran the ball, and they did so in fairly predictable situations. For as bad as Navy's defense has been all year, they actually have played decently against inside rushing games (think Notre Dame) and that's exactly what we saw on Saturday. Of course it took some great efforts like Ross Pospsil's 20 taclkle day, but for one of the only times all season Navy's defense was simplified partially due to the nature of the offense the Mids were playing. Navy's defense played better on Saturday, that's a fact, but they did so largely because they were playing a team in which the matchups were much more favorable.
At leasts one Navy "senior" will be back next season
Fact. We learned late last week that both safety Corey Johnson and wide receiver Greg Sudderth are being extended academically through the Fall 2008 semester, while the status of FS Jeff Deliz still appears to be up in the air. Johnson is a guy who has a year of eligibility left, while the Mids will have go to the NCAA regarding Deliz and Sudderth, both of whom should be able to get an extra year of eligibility if indeed that's what they decide they want to do. In any case, I think it's fair to say that at least one of these "seniors" will be back next year, which, football-wise anyway, is a good thing.
Jarod Bryant is a More Decisive Runner than Kaipo-Noa
Fiction. This was one of those points that Scott Zolak was really trying to hammer down during the broadcast, but one which probably doesn't ring true. I say "probably" because you've got to realize that the two quarterbacks have different running styles, and that Jarod's is more conducive to called plays that don't feature as many option or read elements. Phelix did a great job breaking this down in his postgame over at the Bird Dog, and as his research shows 40% of the plays Navy ran were predetermined runs, while another 40% were one-read option plays that included a number of midline options (option to give or follow the fullback inside.) With 80% of the plays being called involving one read or less (as well as 9% of plays being pass attempts) it's easy to see why Jarod would look a lot more "decisive" at quarterback. This isn't to say that Jarod is not a decisive runner, because he is. He's quicker than Kaipo between the tackles and arguably has better vision inside, and used these assets en route to a 139 yard day on the ground. However when we're talking about being purely "decisive" it's apples and oranges because of the different strengths and weaknesses of each quarterback and the now prevalent fact that the offense does take on a different look and feel with Jarod at the helm. It's easy to say that Kaipo is less "decisive" than Jarod, but you have to remember he usually has an extra one or two reads when he's in the ballgame. So no, I don't think Jarod is necessarily a more "decisive" runner than Kaipo, but I also don't think that diminishes the job he's done in relief all season.
Hope everyone has a happy and restful Thanksgiving and enjoys some very exciting college football action over the next few days.