The Mids have done a solid job of bouncing back after the opening day defeat at Hawaii. Memphis was a struggle, but Liberty was disposed with in the way you would expect a Ken Niumatalolo led team to take care of inferior opposition. Now, Navy faces an SMU squad that is 0-3 on the season (against an insane schedule) after losing head coach Chad Morris to Arkansas in the offseason.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Keep Malcolm Perry rolling
Perry was almost untouchable against Lehigh last time out. The Navy slotback-cum-quarterback tore up the gridiron, rushing for 223 yards and three touchdowns as he up on a virtuoso display of running the ball from the quarterback position. Perry is just so agile – and so quick – that as soon as he gets into the open you feel like the Mids will score a touchdown every time. He is that good.
The Navy rushing offense as a whole was back to its best against the Mountain Hawks. The Mids rushed for 629 total yards, finally looking in-sync and effective as a rushing attack. That is the unit that Ken Niumatalolo expected to see with Perry under center, and that is the unit that he will need to see as Navy takes on the Mustangs.
Keep the pain coming for SMU
SMU is 0-3, but they could easily be the best 0-3 team in the country. Their losses have not been particularly close, but they have lost to No. 15 TCU, No. 19 Michigan, and a North Texas squad that could easily be ranked in the top 25 and that destroyed Arkansas on Saturday. Their schedule has been brutal and it is up to Navy to keep the pressure on by coming out hot and taking the game to the Mustangs.
The Mids have the perfect offense for just this kind of attack. The triple option attack needs to come out and make a statement here, with Perry and company rushing ball down the throat of the Mustangs defensive line early to establish control. If Navy gets a couple of scores ahead – and the Mids have the talent to make that happen – then SMU will start to see the writing on the wall for a fourth straight week.
Stop the big plays
One issue the Mids have encountered this season has been slowing down big plays from the opposition. Lehigh was the latest team to have chunk yardage plays against Navy, with freshman running back Rashawn Allen being the main beneficiary. He scored a 75-yard touchdown on the Mountain Hawks, first play from scrimmage, compounding the Mids misery when he rushed for a 26-yard score later in the game.
Navy needs to stop allowing big plays like this if the Mids want to be a factor in the AAC race in 2018. First downs are fine, the happen in football, but there has to be enough coverage and reading of the game in the secondary for Navy to stop these currently game breaking plays for 10 or 15 yard gains.