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For Success against Navy, Ohio State Must Stop Triple Option
By Eric Seger

At first, it appeared Ohio State had things figured out against Navy.

The Buckeyes took a 20-7 lead into halftime against the Midshipmen at Ohio Stadium in 2009, coming up with defensive stops in the second quarter to allow their offense to build a bit of a lead.

But, like service academies are trained to do, Navy never quit, never went away and it took an interception by Brian Rolle on a two-point conversion with just under 2:30 to go to seal the victory for Ohio State.

“I reminded the guys the last time we played them in ’09, we showed it today, the two-point conversion that we had to stop there with 2:20 left in the game to keep it from going to a tie,” Ohio State linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, who was on staff under Jim Tressel during that game, said Wednesday. “It’s definitely an eye-opener.”

The main proponent that kept Navy in the game that year, aside from its unwillingness to relent in effort, was the nearly flawless way it ran coach Ken Niumatalolo’s triple option offense.

Quarterback Ricky Dobbs shredded the Buckeyes for 83 yards on the ground and 156 through the air on his way to four total touchdowns.

But Ohio State was able to hold on for the victory, and Fickell’s experience against the triple option should prove vital Saturday in Baltimore.

Ricky Dobbs nearly pulled an upset in Ohio Stadium in 2009.
Photo by Jim Davidson
 

“Most of our players haven’t (seen the triple option), but the good news is Coach Fickell was here before when we played Navy a few years back and he had a good understanding,” said co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, who coached against the Midshipmen plenty during his 13-year career as an Army assistant and a three-year stint at Air Force. “There’s been a lot of preparation going into the game plan defensively. They know what they want to do, they know how they want to do it and they understand what they’re getting ready to face.”

Dobbs came to Ohio Stadium in what was his second career start as Navy’s signal caller. And while he committed the game-deciding turnover to ensure Ohio State’s victory, he had plenty of high points during the game. One of those was facilitating a 99-yard drive in the third quarter to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to six points.

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