Owls seeing triple this week

ASSOCIATED PRESS Navy QB Keenan Reynolds ran for 31 touchdowns last year.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Navy QB Keenan Reynolds ran for 31 touchdowns last year.
Posted: September 05, 2014

SO WHAT'S the toughest part about trying to defend the triple option that Navy will be running at the Linc tomorrow afternoon?

"What Navy does, they do it every single day, 365 days a year," Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "We're going to [practice playing against it] for 5.

"So you'd better put your heart and soul into it."

The Midshipmen's offense is nothing if not relentless. The last 2 years, the Owls have had their way against Army, which also uses the triple option. But this is a different challenge. Army has been to one bowl game since 1996. Navy not only goes to one on a regular basis, it even sometimes wins. Last week the Midshipmen were beating eighth-ranked Ohio State by a point in the third quarter before being outscored by 21-3 the rest of the way.

"What they do looks simple," said junior cornerback Tavon Young, who had two interceptions in Temple's eye-opening, 37-7 win at Vanderbilt. "But it's really not.

"You just have to make sure you know your assignment, know their details. That's why we're watching extra film. You have to focus on what you're doing."

Rhule admits the Owls actually did a little bit of prep work on Navy almost every day during preseason camp, just to start getting ready. Now it's time to cram. His team suffered some injuries at the safety position at Vanderbilt, which doesn't help, especially when it comes to covering the pitch. But Navy is probably going to be without three offensive players, including two slotbacks, who didn't play last week. So you line up with what you have and go.

"They have a very good offensive line," Rhule duly noted. "And a lot of speed. They're as skilled as any team we'll face. And they have an aggressive coach [Ken Niumatalolo]. So you have to worry about things beside the option. Our kids know this team is into precision and execution. They're so great at cut-blocking you. Everyone else blocks you high. So you not only have to do your job, [then] you have to come over and help. That's how you win.

"I think seeing this offense [against Army] at least makes us more comfortable in what we have to do and why we have to do it. But they'll come out in four-wides and throw the ball. They'll line up in the shotgun. [Keenan Reynolds] is a legitimate throwing threat. So they present other problems we haven't seen before . . .

"The way you win games, like I keep telling them, is by doing what you're trained to do. And this week, if they want to win they better do that and do it at a really high level."

Against the Buckeyes, Reynolds only passed four times, completing half of them for 20 yards. But last season as a junior, the Tennessee native ran for 1,346 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has 17 career scoring passes, with just four interceptions.

"We're very excited," Young said. "We've heard a lot about him. He's a great athlete. After practice [Saturday] we sat down as a team and watched the second half of their game. They do a lot of things. We have to work through that . . .

"Week 1 is over."

Maybe the best way to neutralize someone like Reynolds is to play from ahead and keep him on the sideline. Those time-consuming drives tend to have less impact if you're trailing by double digits in the second half. And nobody gets that more than Temple quarterback P.J. Walker.

"They're going to try and keep the ball away from us," said the sophomore, who completed 23 of 34 passes to eight receivers against Vandy. "So we have to go out and make the most of our possessions."

The offensive line, which was a question mark, didn't allow him to get hit even once on a dropback pass.

"I want to thank them for that," Walker said. "And every time we got off the field, I just told [the defense] to get me the ball back. And that's what they kept doing.

"Spreading the ball around is something we feed off here. We want to get everyone involved. If you get the ball in a lot of people's hands, it makes everyone's job easier. As long as they can make plays, that's the plan we're sticking with."

Isn't that Navy's line?

On Twitter: @mikekerndn

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