December 29, 2009
Navy plays defense too
Any discussion of the Navy Midshipmen begins with talk about their triple option offense. And rightfully so. But the Navy defense will present Missouri some problems of its own in Thursday afternoon's Texas Bowl.
The Midshipmen rank 36th in the nation in total defense and 20th in scoring defense this season. Navy gave up more than 27 points this season only twice, to Ohio State and to SMU.
"They play extremely hard. The backers, they come on blitzes and they come hard. They try to punish you and they play extremely hard. They're disciplined," said Tiger tailback Derrick Washington. "Those guys, they're a pretty good team. A lot of people don't know that, but we've watched film on them and studied them, they're pretty good."
Washington hopes he will get to play a major role in the Texas Bowl. The Midshipmen run a three-man front on defense which, theoretically, could open natural running lanes for the Tiger junior.
Much of Navy's defensive success is predicated not on the scheme, but on simply not letting the opposition have the football. The Midshipmen averaged 33 minutes, 23 seconds of possession on offense this season. Opponents ran just 61.46 offensive plays per game against Navy this season. By contrast, Missouri averaged 71.17 offensive snaps in its 12 games. By land or by air, the Tigers will have to make the most of their opportunities in this game.
"They're non-stop," Gabbert said. "Their motors are always churning and they're always going to go to the whistle. We've got to block hard every second of every play."
Missouri averaged 30.4 points and 417 yards this season. Navy gave up 19.9 and 336. On Thursday in Houston, something's got to give.
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