While the notion about tackles in the A gaps and a nose guard over the center as the secret formula to beat Navy has been proven to work by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, there is a strong conviction that a pretty good coach on the other side of the field has been breaking down Temple game film for the past couple of days.
Ken Niumatalolo has worked wonders at The Naval Academy since another great head coach, Paul Johnson, took his triple option to Georgia Tech.
You do not overcome severe academic—getting into the Academy is like getting into an Ivy League school—and athletic (post-academy military commitment) without using your head for something other than a hat rack.
When he breaks down Temple game film, Niumatalolo probably sees a team that will attempt to establish the run and throw off play action. He will probably attempt to counter that by stacking the box himself and forcing the Owls to throw first and try to establish the run later. The way to counter an over-aggressive defense is to take advantage of their aggressiveness. That’s why it is important that the Owls mix things up and they can do that with these five plays they have not shown so far. Some people call them trick plays; I call them innovative ones and, if the Owls hit on just one, none of these plays will be wasted. While I would not recommend the onsides’ kick (hey, it worked against Cincy last year), these are five plays that come with the TFF Navy Seal of Approval:
The Double Reverse
The Owls have tried the single reverse with Adonis Jennings at Tulane. That’s part of the film Niumatalolo has seen and is ready for; he has not seen the double reverse and Jennings handing it off to Isaiah Wright coming around from the other side should open up the field against an over-pursuing Navy defense. That will set up the next play, somewhat later in the game.
The Double Reverse Pass
Virtually the same play worked four years ago for the Owls at SMU four years ago, where former Big 33 quarterback Jalen Fitzpatrick threw an 85-yard touchdown to Robby (then Robbie) Anderson off a reverse. We’ve been told Wright can throw an accurate pass between 60 and 85 yards in the air. We know that. Niumatalolo does not. That could catch Navy with their pants down.
The Shovel Pass
The beauty of this play is that it not only creates space for a guy like Jahad Thomas but, if it fails, it’s an incomplete pass and not a fumble. It’s like a delayed handoff except when P.J. Walker goes back to pass, he draws the rush to him and shovels a pass underhand forward to Thomas, who uses the newly created space to work his magic. The last time Temple used a shovel pass, it went for a touchdown from Chris Coyer to Matt Brown at Penn State (September 22, 2012). It is not on any recent Temple film and does not take a whole lot to put it into the playbook.
Throwback To The Tight End
A perfect play in the red zone offense that worked for a touchdown against USF a few weeks ago and Walker sells this play well, rolling out to his right and pumping a fake into one corner of the end zone (and drawing the defense to that side) before looking left to a wide open tight end. That tight end could be Thompson, who holds his block for a second and then releases. In that scenario, usually no one is assigned to cover him and that’s why he is always open.
Screen Pass to Jahad
This is a staple of the current offense, but an antidote to a defense that commits to stopping the run and the Owls should mix in a few of these every quarter. No one is able to make defenders miss in the open field like Thomas and he is a weapon the Owls should use while they have him for a couple more games.
Thursday: Temple-Navy Preview