Rutgers gearing up to face Navy's option offense

Rutgers defensive back Johnathan Aiken tries to get the crowd in the game during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Penn State on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Piscataway, N.J. Penn State won 13-10. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Mel Evans

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers doesn't have time to wallow after squandering a chance to win its first Big Ten Conference game.

Coming off a 13-10 loss to Penn State, The Scarlet Knights (2-1) will face Navy and its high-octane option offense on Saturday. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood had one message for his defense about the attack. Nobody does it better than the Midshipman.

The triple option is an offense that is way past its heyday, with only the service academies and Georgia Tech running it. However, Navy runs it to perfection.

The Midshipmen (2-1) lead the country, averaging 403 yards rushing. Much of their success has to do with Keenan Reynolds, who set an NCAA record for quarterbacks last season running for 31 touchdowns.

While he missed last week with a knee injury suffered against Temple on Sept. 6, Reynolds is scheduled to play this week. Flood said he is the best option quarterback he's seen in his decade at Rutgers.

"When you face the triple option I think it's everybody knowing their jobs, knowing their assignments,'' defensive tackle Darius Hamilton said. ''Like I said, playing Navy, they're great at what they do. Probably the best in the world and being part of the Navy, they're probably the most disciplined people you ever meet, so you got to pay attention to the little details and this is a game where little details are going to be huge down the line.''

While stopping the run will be the focus for the Scarlet Knights, they have to be ready to defend the pass even though Navy has thrown 19 times this season.

''They do a great job of trying to lull you to sleep and getting big plays with the pass game,'' defensive lineman David Milewski said. ''If we can make them one dimensional and make them completely run, it's hard to have a 15, 20 play drive without any mistakes, so that's the kind of thing that we do. They want to commit to the run and we got to try and stop them in the triple option and we definitely got to make sure we stop them in the passing game.''

While Rutgers has regularly played a service academy, it did not play one last year for the first time since 1978. The last time it faced Navy was in 2011 and only a handful of players have worked against a triple option in college.

''A lot of guys haven't seen it yet,'' linebacker Quentin Gause said. ''This is my first time playing against it. But I've seen it and I know how we have to prepare for it and everyone else just has to work together as a collective group with (linebackers) coach (Bob) Fraser, who's seen this offense many years and has prepared our defense for it.''

Milewski said this is a week where the Scarlet Knights' scout team has to give the defense a good look and play fast.

''We played Navy one time and we played Army twice and I watched all those games, I prepared for them, I sat in the meetings for them, so I was aware of the game plan,'' Milewski said. ''So I understand the preparation it takes to play these kind of teams. So I'm looking forward to it.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.