When UH started Dominating 1st down
From the start of the game until their last drive in the 1st half, Navy moved the ball with ease: 34 plays for 257 yards (7.6 per play). More importantly, the Middies were dominating on first down.
On their first 13 “real” first downs (10+ yards to go), Navy sliced up the Cougar defense at-will. They racked up 135 yards on first down – over 10 yards a play. It’s pretty easy to have success in an option attack when you own first down.
Saturday was Navy’s best offensive first half (vs FBS) of the season – and 1st down was the reason. Efficiency on first down led to lots of success:
But late in the half and continuing on until UH hit 49 points, Houston changed the game plan. Why it took D’Onofrio so long to see what most Cougar fans saw from their living room is a great question. But once UH changed the tactic, it was the Cougars that owned first down.
In the 6 defining drives in the middle of the game, UH held the Middies to -3 yards 12 first downs. The results?
TURNOVER ON DOWNS
So what changed? It wasn’t scheme, for sure. It was physicality on the outside and thereby changing the nature of the game. The way you knock a finesse team off their game (and all option teams are finesse teams) is to hit them hard. Put one more thought in their head. And take away what’s working for them.
And that’s what Houston did: they got more physical on the perimeter and started hitting the pitchman at the point of attack (instead of 5 yards down the field). By stuffing the holes on the inside, the Coogs forced Navy ball carriers to step down to the next read. UH finally took control of 1st down.
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