ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Rutgers coach Kyle Flood describes Navy’s running game as ”the gold standard of option offenses.”
The Scarlet Knights’ goal Saturday is to tarnish that reputation by stopping a potent running attack that leads the nation with 403 yards per game.
”When you face the triple-option, it’s about everybody knowing their jobs, knowing their assignments,” Rutgers defensive tackle Darius Hamilton said. ”They’re great at what they do. Probably the best in the world and being part of the Navy, they’re probably the most disciplined people you ever meet. So you’ve got to pay attention to the little details.”
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Rutgers has fared well against Navy’s option in the past. Just two years ago, Navy could muster only 162 yards on the ground in a 21-20 defeat.
”Every time we’ve played them, they’ve had a pretty good plan for going against us and we’ve struggled moving the ball,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
Rutgers (2-1) is looking to rebound from a 13-10 loss to Penn State. Navy (2-1) hopes to maintain the momentum built from winning consecutive road games against Temple and Texas State.
Some things to know about the Rutgers-Navy matchup:
THE FRIDGE IS BACK: Flood lured Ralph Friedgen out of retirement to become offensive coordinator. Friedgen, who spent 10 years as head coach at Maryland, will return to the state in a coaching capacity for the first time since being fired from that job. ”I’m glad to see Ralph back in the game, but I’m not happy to be playing against him because he is a great offensive mind, runs a great system and does such a great job of coaching,” Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said.
REYNOLDS RETURNS: Navy starting quarterback Keenan Reynolds sat out the Texas State game with a bruised right knee. He never before missed a game in high school or college. Reynolds participated in practice every day this week and did not seem to favor the knee when running the ball or planting on passes. Reynolds said Monday that he planned to start and Niumatalolo believes the junior is on schedule to do so. ”I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to play,” Niumatalolo said.
SUPER NOVA: Rutgers senior Gary Nova ranks 10th among active Division I quarterbacks with 7,162 career passing yards and eighth with 57 touchdown passes. But he’s also tossed 45 interceptions, including five last week against Penn State. ”I don’t think Gary lacks confidence,” Flood said. ”Gary knows he needs to do a better job managing the game and making decisions.”
BLOCK PARTY: Since 2009, Rutgers has led the nation with 39 blocked kicks or punts. The Scarlet Knights have recorded at least four blocks per year since 2007. Rutgers again leads all Football Bowl Subdivision schools with six blocks this season. Redshirt freshman defensive end Kemoko Turay has two of those blocks. ”Their special teams are super aggressive. We have to be sound scheme-wise, we have to be sound with our assignments and technique-wise,” Niumatalolo said.
HOME SWEET HOME: Navy has won eight straight home games dating back over the last two seasons. The Midshipmen were victorious in their final three home games in 2012 then went undefeated (5-0) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in 2013. This is Navy’s home opener after facing Ohio State in Baltimore, then visiting Pennsylvania and Texas ”Hopefully, we’ll get the 12th man on Saturday. We need it, especially against this team coming in,” Niumatalolo said.