UVa Ready to Face Navy's Option Attack in Military Bowl

Posted: Updated:
Junior QB Zach Abbey led the Midshipmen in rushing in 2017 Junior QB Zach Abbey led the Midshipmen in rushing in 2017

The Virginia football team will face the option-style offense of the Naval Academy when the teams square off in the Military Bowl on Thursday.

The Midshipmen finished second in the nation in rushing yards during the regular season with 343 yards per game.

Navy ran for 4,116 yards on 746 rushing attempts as a team.

UVa senior safety Quin Blanding says, "You have to be on your P's and Q's at all times.  One false step can be too slow.  They can get a big play, and if you're too late on your key, they can get over you, over the top of you.  So you gotta be on your P's and Q's at all times."  

Senior linebacker Micah Kiser adds, "I think the mixture of already playing Georgia Tech this year, and the extra practices, have helped us play the triple option.  We pretty much hit the ground running.  We knew what the game plan was going to look like, because we had already played Georgia Tech, and now we're just fine-tuning it.  Navy presents a little bit more of a challenge in that their quarterback is going to keep the ball a bit more, we think."

Navy junior quarterback Zach Abbey was 21st in the nation with 1,325 yards rushing, and he scored fourteen touchdowns.

"Yeah, I think he's one of the most dynamic players that I've seen this year," says UVa head coach Bronco Mendenhall. 

Mendenhall added, "Their defense is similar, schematically, to ours.  (Navy defensive line coach) Shaun Nua played for me at BYU, and he's visited our staff at Brigham Young, and at the University of Virginia every year.  It's one of those exchanges that when you play an opponent, you kinda wish there wasn't so much knowledge exchanged."

A win against the Midshipmen would give the 'Hoos their first bowl win since 2005, and their first winning season in six years.

UVa and Navy kickoff on Thursday at 1:30  in Annapolis, Maryland.