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Since we put Army on our list, it's only fair that we head south to Annapolis. The Midshipmen of Navy, like their brethren up in New York, lack the size and pure athleticism we see from the nation's top football programs. Since every cadet and midshipman must adhere to military fitness standards, a 320-pound lineman is out of the question for the academies.
So how can Navy compete so well against other FBS programs (8-5 in 2012)? It's all about the offensive scheme.
Navy runs a flexbone triple-option offense that was once one of the premiere systems in football. As players got bigger, strong and faster, the flex began to fall by the wayside with the introduction of pro style, run-and-gun, west coast and spread offenses. But therein lies the secret to Navy's success.
Since the flex triple-option is so rare this day in age, most teams have a very difficult time defending it. Navy opponents never really know where the ball will be going next, and the Midshipmen are masters at misdirection.
Whether the ball goes up the middle with the fullback, around the end with the quarterback, or out to the wings with the halfback, an opposing defense must defend each option flawlessly. In effect, Navy has three players carrying the ball on every play, and in this shell game, the defense has to be not only very good, but a little lucky, too.
What sets Navy apart from Army, however, is the introduction of a serviceable pass attack. The Midshipmen won't burn up any stat sheets with eye-popping passing numbers, but they can at least keep the secondary honest.