The Navy Midshipmen are sailing along. They beat Air Force and then avoided a letdown on one of their (now-) typical long commutes across the wide geographic footprint of the American Athletic Conference.
By Matt Zemek
They traveled all the way to Tulsa and handled the Golden Hurricane. Navy has to avoid a letdown this week as it prepares to play the South Florida Bulls and beleaguered head coach Charlie Strong. Let’s see what Navy has to keep in mind before this run with the Bulls.
1 – Respect
The Midshipmen need to realize that USF, for all of its struggles, hasn’t packed it in this season. Quite the opposite. The Bulls got off the canvas and surprised BYU this past weekend, using a solid defensive performance to win, 27-23. That should get the full attention of Navy’s locker room, especially when you realize that BYU beat a very talented USC Trojans team, 30-27, earlier this season.
USC has several NFL-caliber players on its roster. BYU might be maddeningly inconsistent, but it did play well enough to beat the Trojans. If South Florida was good enough to beat BYU, it is good enough to beat Navy. The Midshipmen can’t merely appreciate that statement as an intellectual exercise. This team needs to be emotionally ready for a challenge on Saturday against USF. That is where the path to victory begins for the Mids.
2 – Strong first quarter
Navy was very lucky to not trail by a much larger margin at Tulsa in the first quarter. The Golden Hurricane drove into the Navy red zone multiple times and came away with a total of just three points, missing a chip-shot field goal in one of those two possessions. Navy can’t let USF feel good about itself after the Bulls’ win over BYU. Navy needs to set the tone for this game early so that South Florida and Charlie Strong can’t build the belief that they can transform their season. Navy has to shut down that line of thought in the early stages of this game.
3 – Save the big exotics and wrinkles for later
Navy’s big AAC games are still coming up: Tulane, SMU and Houston are all vitally important for the Midshipmen in light of all the plot twists in the AAC West. This is a game in which Navy ought to try to win simply, and without feeling it needs to dip into the grab bag for exotics or wrinkles. Winning with a reduced playbook is a desired outcome here.