Navy Football held an important scrimmage for an hour on Saturday, April 1st, and one thing is for certain- the defense is ahead of the offense. Now, that’s something that’s very commonplace all around the country in the spring. The defense is predominantly ahead of the offense, with offenses being much more complicated to install and rhythm and timing being so important, especially in an option offense. Defenses are based more on read and react which comes from lining your defenders up and letting them play quick and free.
Navy QB Zach Abey, who has three marquee games under his belt after Tiago Smith and Will Worth went down in 2016, was in a non-contact jersey which limits him flashing escape-ability and being a real force in the triple option. While Abey is penciled in as the starter, he’s chased by junior Garret Lewis and freshmen Jonan Llanusa and Jacob Harrison. Abey may have struggled, but he’s the only QB getting reps against the first-string defense and that means a lot. With Navy holding out starting slotbacks Josh Brown and Josh Walker and fullback Chris High, Abey’s 1’s weren’t at full strength.
For Abey, it’s huge to have his starting slotbacks and fullback for the timing of the offense. In the triple option, those slots know how to keep the pitch relationship; get too close and the defender can make a play on the QB or SB too easily, get too far or show up slow and the QB is forced to keep even if the defender can make a play on him. The blocking aspect is also huge, the SB not getting the pitch is the main edge blocker at the point of attack. Understanding how to cut block the flat defenders is the difference between a three yard and a 15 yard gain. With High out, Abey loses that reliable B-Back that can take pressure off of him. Getting the mesh and timing down with the B is huge and High excels at getting yards after contact.
The defense preached a need to get back to being aggressive and they’ve done so in the spring. This scrimmage was no different. The Navy 3-4 Defense will look to plug the A-gaps to eliminate the dive in the triple option and the zone dive, using a big bodied Nose Tackle. This allows the linebackers to come free and make plays, guys like D.J. Palmore for instance who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks in 2016. Navy, seeing so many 10 and 11 personnel teams in the AAC, has turned one of their outside backers called the striker into a nickle type player. The striker will be asked to cover slot receivers and play force in the run game.