Methodical Navy faces quick-strike Indiana
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Indiana hopes to speed up the game. Navy wants to slow it down.
Two dramatically contrasting offensive styles will be on display Saturday when the Hoosiers face the Midshipmen for the first time since 1986.
Second-year Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has devised a potent attack predicated on running a high number of plays with little delay. The Hoosiers (2-4) showed how effective the no-huddle system can be in last week's 52-49 loss to Ohio State.
"Our goal is to get on the ball very quickly and dictate to the defense," Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. "We want to keep the defense back on its heels and make it adjust to what we're doing,"
Navy (3-3), on the other hand, employs a triple-option offense that is designed to methodically move the ball and take time off the clock. In a 31-13 rout of Central Michigan last Friday, the Midshipmen dominated the time of possession, 35:47 to 24:13.
"The blueprint for our success was this past game: Run the ball, eat the clock," coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "That's how we've got to win."
Indiana leads the Big Ten and is ranked 15th nationally in passing offense (313 yards per game). The Hoosiers stand second in the conference (22nd nationally) in total offense (473 yards) and third (32nd) in scoring offense (35.5 points).
"There are so many things they do well and they do it all very quickly. They operate at a high tempo so you really have to be ready to play," Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. "They are very good at what they do. They're going up and down the field against everybody. They've scored a ton of points and put up a lot of yards in every game."
Indiana has displayed quick-strike capability — 24 of its scoring drives this season have lasted three minutes or less. The Hoosiers have produced 14 touchdown drives under 90 seconds, nine of which covered at least 70 yards in six or fewer plays. Wilson's innovative approach has the team running a play every 20.6 seconds.