PHILADELPHIA — A Navy marching band just finished an inexplicable medley of “Batman” themes, the players are stretching and getting ready for the second half, and we’re high up here in the crystal tower talking about the first half of this football match. Military Times senior sportswriter Mike Hoffman had some thoughts about what we’ve seen so far and what could be coming up:
EWING: All right, so it’s halftime of a very surprising Army-Navy Game — the Black Knights are close to living up to the hype this year, getting on the board first while keeping Navy scoreless. What do you think explains the low scoring first half of this game?
HOFFMAN: When both teams run the triple-option you can’t expect a high scoring game. The two teams have combined for 47 rushes and 10 attempted passes. Two key penalties have called back long completions by Navy, but thus far Army has been able to bottle up [quarterback]Ricky Dobbs. Army has stuck to their assignments and played disciplined football, capitalizing off the Dobbs interception.
EWING: Army’s young quarterback, [freshman]Trent Steelman, has not lit up the scoreboard, but he also hasn’t made any major mistakes that have hurt his team. Can he keep this up in the second half?
HOFFMAN: He’s proven all year to be mature beyond his years. He has kept Army in games and has them on the cusp of a bowl game. [The Eagle Bank Bowl, in which the Black Knights would play the Temple Owls if they win today.] I think it would be a gamble, but maybe not a bad idea to try a couple play-action deep passes to keep Navy from stacking the line against the run.
EWING: On the flip side of the coin, Navy’s secret weapon, number 4 Dobbs — or as we call him here on A2, “the Magic Man” — has been frustrated in the first half with an inability to get Navy on the scoreboard. What has been wrong with Navy? What do they have to do to turn this thing around?
HOFFMAN: Like I said for Army, Navy might be wise to call a couple more throws. Navy has had wide receivers streaking wide open each time they have called a pass play. Now if only their offensive lineman could keep their hands from holding Army defenders. Navy also has to increase the intensity. There is no doubt who wants this game more and they are the ones wearing the white jerseys.
EWING: All right, Mike, we’ll let you get back to your important sports coverage; looks like they’re setting up to kick off the second half.
HOFFMAN: Roger, solid copy on all. Out.