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Indiana University

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Indiana
vs. Navy
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM

Navy’s triple-option to test IU’s young ‘D’

– Indiana started preparing for its game this Saturday against Navy during spring camp.

The Hoosiers (1-0) still might not have it all figured out, coach Kevin Wilson said.

“Even though there’s some carry-over where you might know some things a little better, the unknown is: What’s Navy gonna do?” he said of the Midshipmen, one of a handful of teams in college football that runs the triple-option. “We’ll have a game plan in place, but trust me, they’ll come out in, I believe, unbalanced and funky formations.”

IU had no film to study, as this will be the first game of the year for Navy.

Last season, the Hoosiers lost to the Midshipmen in Annapolis, Md., 31-30. Navy, with its run-heavy offense, racked up 257 rushing yards in the win.

Midshipmen offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said his team will have some new wrinkles to throw at IU, but by and large, the Navy offense will remain the same.

That means this game should show how much the Hoosiers’ defense has improved.

“We got some key players back,” Jasper said of his squad. “It looks good on paper. It’s just a matter of when you go out there and get hit in the mouth, what do you do?”

IU must answer that same question.

The triple-option presents problems that other offenses don’t, Wilson said.

There are three basic reads on any triple-option run: after the snap, a quarterback can choose to hand the ball off up the middle, keep it and run with it or pitch it out to a running back should the defense close on him.

Couple that with a play-action passing game and experienced players, and there are bound to be headaches for any defense, especially one as young as IU’s.

The Hoosiers played six freshmen on defense during their 73-35 win against Indiana State, a victory that featured a few big plays on defensive slipups.

“We’re gonna have to do a great job of adapting and coaching and adjusting because I believe, it being Navy’s opener, it’s an advantage to those guys to have a couple cards in the deck,” Wilson said. “To beat a team like Navy, you got to beat them in all three phases.”

IU linebacker David Cooper said Tuesday, after the win against the Sycamores, the Hoosiers were up to that challenge.

Regardless of the surprises Navy might bring, they will have the same look to them.

“Same thing they did from last year: run the option, run certain dive plays, pitch plays,” the senior said. “We’ve been practicing that for the longest.”

The question is if that will be long enough to beat a team that went 8-5 last season en route to a bowl game. Navy will run the clock on offense, stave off big plays on defense in hopes of a mistake and play physical football.

And unlike IU, the Midshipmen have a bit of 2013 tape to scout.

“They want to go out there and be physical on both sides of the football,” Jasper said. “They want to run the ball on offense and hit you in the mouth on defense, so we understand what we’re going up against.”

smorrison@jg.net

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