The pagentary’s over. For a few hours, at least, it’s less about history and fancy new uniforms and more about job No. 1 for both teams: Stopping the option run attack.
So far, both teams have prevented big gains — the key to slowing down misdirection offenses that can create open space in a hurry. That duty falls primarily to the linebackers, the defense’s “second level,” who have to sift through the fakes and counters in a split second, find the ball and attempt to separate it from the ball carrier.
Navy senior outside linebacker Jarred Shannon introduced himself to Army QB Trent Steelman on the game’s first drive, helping force a punt. On the next series, it was Army freshman Geoffrey Bacon’s turn — the middle linebacker wasn’t fooled by a Navy counter play to Gee Gee Greene, leading to one of the biggest hits of the game so far.
The option attacks from Army and Navy aren’t identical, but both sides will test the strength (and the reaction time) of the opposing linebacking corps.
Army’s defense broke first, with Navy’s Kriss Proctor running over a defensive back to reach paydirt. Plenty of game left.