N.C. — Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper took all the blame on his
shoulders when Navy was held to 144 total yards and shut out by San Jose
State. However, Jasper would not take any credit after the Midshipmen
piled up 56 points and 563 total yards against East Carolina on Saturday.
Jasper's play-calling was outstanding as he kept the Pirates off-balance the entire game, but he said the players deserve all the praise for the explosive performance.
"This was a good day. The kids really executed. They were assignment-sound as far as blocking and a lot of different people ran the ball well. It's good to see things clicking and the players having fun out there," Jasper said.
Jasper does deserve some credit because he anticipated East Carolina employing the same defensive strategy as it did during last season's meeting with Navy and was prepared to counteract it. The Pirates sent their safeties hard toward the backfield as soon as one of the slots went into tail motion. If the slotback motioned right, the safety charged hard to that side in an attempt to blow up the play.
Jasper recognized that ploy immediately and did two things to render it ineffective. He made sure the Mids had a blocker hunt the safety or simply ran a counter play to the opposite side of the field.
"You try to slow that safety down with some counter stuff and by sending someone right at him," Jasper said. "We had some answers for it. We ran some option stuff the other way to get (the safety) going then ran a counter back the other way. We had to keep those safeties from running the alley so hard."
East Carolina's defensive game-plan didn't come close to succeeding as Navy amassed 512 rushing yards with the slotbacks doing most of the damage. Senior Gee Gee Greene led the way with a career-high 131 rushing yards while Bo Snelson and Geoffrey Whiteside added 67 and 55, respectively. Sophomore Ryan Williams-Jenkins saw his most extensive action of the season and chipped in 42 yards as the slots accounted for 350 yards rushing.
Marcus Thomas scored Navy's first touchdown on a 17-yard run while Williams-Jenkins scored the last touchdown on a 33-yard run.
Greene and Snelson combined for 141 yards rushing in last week's win over Indiana, but apparently the coaching staff felt several pitchouts could have gone for more yardage and gave the slots and wide receivers poor grades for their perimeter blocking.
"Last week we got barbecued a lot for not blocking on the perimeter perfectly. This week, we came out and put an emphasis on getting better on the outside so we could get more yardage out there," Greene said.
Jasper also confounded East Carolina with a wrinkle he added to the Navy playbook a few years ago — a direct give to the slotback. Greene had several big gains off the play while Darius Staten did as well.
Meanwhile, freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds directed the triple-option like he's been doing so his whole football career. The Tennessee native ran a spread offense at Goodpasture Christian, but has picked up the many nuances of the option remarkably fast.
"Keenan made some great decisions today, some great reads. He orchestrated the offense very nicely and got the ball dealt to where it was supposed to go," Jasper said. "He understands the little things about the option a lot better than I expected."
DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel led the defense with nine tackles, which included two sacks. Wetzel now has team-highs of six sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
Rover Tra'ves Bush also notched nine tackles while safety Wave Ryder contributed eight. Inside linebackers Brye French and Matt Warrick had seven and six stops and combined on a tackle for loss. Warrick also recorded his team-high third interception of the season.
MID BITS: Navy did not punt for the first time since a 2009 game against Western Kentucky… Seniors Andrew Barker, John O'Boyle and Collin Sturdivant served as game captains… Old Mill High graduate Demond Brown got his first collegiate carry, gaining four yards… Freshman cornerback Myer Krah made his first collegiate appearance, serving on the kickoff coverage unit… Freshman kicker Nick Sloan made all eight of his extra points and remains one of only two kickers (along with Jeremy Shelley of Alabama) who has not missed a field goal or point after touchdown attempt this season.