Rushing Numbers Lagging Behind Previous Years
Navy currently ranks 22nd in the nation in rushing, unfamiliar territory for a team that led Division I-A in rushing the past four years. The Midshipmen are averaging 238 yards per game on the ground, down from 292.4 yards last season.
That drop can be partially attributed to the improvements in Navy's passing game; the Midshipmen are averaging 10.5 pass attempts and 129.5 passing yards per game, compared with 7.1 attempts and 60.9 yards last year. It also can be attributed to Navy's first two opponents; both Ohio State (18th) and Louisiana Tech (13th) ranked in the top 20 in the country in rushing defense in 2008. The Buckeyes held the Midshipmen to 186 yards on 44 carries; against the Bulldogs, the Midshipmen ran for 290 yards on 69 carries.
"We look at some of the stats and see where we're at, but ... we're not going to beat our heads on the wall [like] we've got to get to this [yardage] to win this rushing title," Coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Basically we want to get better at what we're doing."
Sophomore fullback Alexander Teich is averaging 4.2 yards per carry; he has gained 93 yards in two games, and has had to fight hard for every yard. His longest run so far is 12 yards. Backup Vince Murray is averaging 3.7 yards, with a long run of five yards.
"A lot of it again has to do who we played with. Did you see USC's guys run against the Buckeyes?" Niumatalolo said. "We've played some good defenses, and we're going to play another one. We definitely need to get better."
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