Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds has a chance to make history in the Military Bowl. Here's a look at how Reynolds and the offense stacks up against Pitt's defense:
Navy offense national rankings: 22nd in scoring offense (36.2 points per game), 3rd in rushing offense (319.17 yards per game), 127th in passing offense (92.3 yards per game), 58th in total offense (411.4 yards per game)
Pitt defense national rankings: 49th in scoring defense (24.6 points allowed per game), 20th in rushing defense (126.08 yards allowed per game), 58th in passing defense (218.2 yards allowed per game), 27th in total defense (344.3 yards allowed per game)
Anyone who follows college football knows that Navy runs the triple option. They have run it very well over the past few years thanks to Reynolds.
When it comes to defense, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi is one of the best in the business. Prior to becoming the head coach at Pitt, Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State from 2007 to 2014.
That Spartan defense that led them to a Rose Bowl win in 2013? That was Narduzzi's.
But the Military Bowl will not be the first time the Panthers have faced the option offense this season. On Oct. 17, Pitt gave up 482 yards to a Georgia Tech team that won only three games. The Panthers narrowly manged a 31-28 win thanks to a late field goal.
One of the biggest challenges for preparing for the option is time. Because it is radically different from the offenses other teams run, having just one week to prepare as Pitt did against Georgia Tech can be a major disadvantage. That won't be an issue for the bowl game. Narduzzi will have had plenty of time to prepare for the Midshipmen by Dec. 28.
As always when playing against the option, keeping contain is always important. Defensive end Ejuan Price will be one of the key players for the Panthers. He currently leads the ACC in sacks with 11.5 and is second in the conference with 19.5 tackles for loss. Keeping Reynolds contained is easier said than done, but keeping Price out of the backfield is no easy task. He will need to penetrate into the backfield quickly to make sure Reynolds cannot break to the outside.
Expect Pitt to be aggressive early because Navy struggles to come from behind. Navy has the 127th ranked pass offense, ahead of only Georgia Southern, but it has not cost them much this season with Reynolds at the helm.
Reynolds is the best quarterback to play at Navy since Roger Staubach. What's more, he has some extra motivation coming into this game besides just earning a win to finish off his Navy football career.
Reynolds became the NCAA Division I leader in touchdowns in the game against Army when he earned his 85th career touchdown. That record has already been surpassed by Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon. Dixon scored four touchdowns in the New Orleans Bowl, upping the record to 87 touchdowns.
To reclaim the record, Reynolds will need at least two touchdowns against the Panthers, three if he wants to stand alone. That would be a tall task for most players, but Reynolds has scored at least three touchdowns three times this season.
The Military Bowl will be Reynold's chance to permanently etch his name in college football history.
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