Three Keys - Navy vs. Air Force

Jon Lee (Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE)

Maybe that line would have worked better before last weekend, but the fact that this game is going on at all is a reason to be joyful. Whether they are flying for free on United or not, the Air Force Falcons will be in Annapolis this weekend to take on the Mids in a nationally televised contest. Though other varsity and club sports have unfortunately been cancelled football perseveres.

Maybe that line would have worked better before last weekend, but the fact that this game is going on at all is a reason to be joyful. Whether they are flying for free on United or not, the Air Force Falcons will be in Annapolis this weekend to take on the Mids in a nationally televised contest. Though other varsity and club sports have unfortunately been cancelled football perseveres.

Here are the three keys.

1) Keep Keenan Reynolds on the field

Anyone who watched the game last weekend will know how important Reynolds is to this team. We knew going in that the passing game without him is nonexistent, but now it appears that the option attack also falls apart when he is not in the game. Reynolds has been preparing to go all week after his mild concussion (strange terminology) in the Western Kentucky game. The hope has to be that Reynolds will be as active as ever in the run game while finding a way to protect himself better, but if Navy has to lean more on handing the ball off in the option game than normal then that is fine too. Air Force is really bad defensively giving up almost 6.5 yards per play, so Reynolds should show some discretion early until he finds his way into the game.

2) Start fast

Whether they will admit it or not, both teams will have been affected this week by the uncertainty which surrounded the game until Thursday morning. The question now is if the coaching staff can get the players heads back into the game in time for kick off. In some ways this will be easier for Ken Niumatalolo and Navy because they are the home team and very little should change in their game day routine. To that end it is important that the Mids come out fast and come out firing. If they can get a nice lead on the scoreboard in the first quarter and a half they are going to be very hard to run down.

3) Stop the run

Air Force does one thing well, they run the ball. Through five games in 2013 the Falcons are eighth in the country in rushing offense at just under 300 yards on the ground per game. Compare this to the fact that they are 120th in the nation passing the ball (97 yards per game) and you can see how they are going to try to attack the Mids.

Much like Navy, the Falcons like to spread the ball around on the ground. Air Force has 15 rushing touchdowns on the season, but no one player has more than four. There are three players who have over 200 yards rushing, and another four players who have over 100 yards rushing. Simply put, if Navy keys on a back, or one aspect of the rushing offense, then the Falcons will cycle through to the next option. The Navy defense is going to have to play solid, gap assignment football to keep the Air Force rushing attack at bay.

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