Navy vs. Central Michigan: Triple-Option Will Fuel Midshipmen Back to .500

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 12, 2012

Freshman Keenan Reynolds (19) will make his first start on Friday night against Central Michigan.
Freshman Keenan Reynolds (19) will make his first start on Friday night against Central Michigan.Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Navy Midshipmen sail into Kelly/Shorts Stadium as Friday favorites against the Central Michigan Chippewas, where they will level their record to .500 thanks to their trademark triple-option attack.

Unfortunately for the home team, senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff is pretty much the only chance the team ever has week to week. Their defense is just that putrid.

Over the past two games of MAC conference play, the Chippewas have yielded 55 and 50 points to Northern Illinois and Toledo, respectively. Those were road games, to be fair. But no home-field advantage is going to mask that kind of play.

In the former game, Central Michigan yielded over 400 yards rushing. That's not exactly an ideal track record going up against the Midshipmen. The simple yet effective Navy ground game ranks 17th in the nation averaging just over 230 yards per game, so it's easy to fathom pretty gaudy numbers on this Chippewa defense.

Freshman Keenan Reynolds has split time with Trey Miller under center for the Midshipmen, but both ran the wishbone effectively against the Air Force Academy in last week's stunning 28-21 overtime victory.

Between Reynolds' superior ability to throw the football and the experience of Miller, the quarterback rotation for Navy actually works rather well since their offense is almost exclusively run-based. That will effectively keep the Chippewas off-balance all night, but expect to see more of Reynolds.

Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times had some exciting news about the freshman on Wednesday after speaking with Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo.

Plebe Keenan Reynolds to start at quarterback for Navy on Friday—

— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) October 10, 2012


Miller is nursing an ankle injury, which made the decision easier, but he should still be in action. The USA Today injury report lists him as probable.

The biggest disadvantage that Navy saddles Central Michigan with is that they will grind, plod and convert multiple fourth-and-short situations to stay on the field.

Sometimes it is said that the best defense is a good offense—and, well, vice versa.

Nevertheless, keeping Radcliff on the sidelines for most of the afternoon by dominating time of possession will allow Navy's defense plenty of rest to go up against the dynamic Chippewas signal-caller. Radcliff will be forced into obvious passing situations, where he tends to force throws that result in turnovers.

Expect a big night for Reynolds at quarterback, especially because he will be better at capitalizing on the potential of some of his most valuable offensive weapons.

Senior running back Gee Gee Greene has played exceptionally in 2012, averaging 7.4 yards per carry and continuing to prove his worth as a dangerous receiving threat. Greene will benefit greatly from Reynolds' ability to sling it for not just catching, but for opening up even wider running lanes as well.

Although junior receiver Shawn Lynch only has eight catches on the season, they have almost all been for big gains. He is averaging well over 18 yards per catch, and should get golden opportunities when the Chippewas cheat up to stuff the run.

Reynolds will respond well to his debut as the starter, because the triple-option's effectiveness will open up plenty of opportunities for him to deliver the ball to his playmakers—if it's even necessary. That will take any added pressure off the upstart plebe.

The freshman Midshipmen QB will orchestrate a multiple-score win on the road to keep Navy's bowl hopes very much alive.