The Navy Midshipmen (2-2) survived a battle against Temple on Saturday with the Owls failing to convert on a late two-point conversion that would have tied the game. Next up is East Carolina (1-2).
Here are the three keys:
Carry on from Temple
The Navy rushing attack wasn’t exactly everything it needed to be in the win over Temple, but the Mids managed to get it done. Navy – which had been maddeningly inconsistent in its first three games – picked up the win as the team rushed for 251 yard. Nelson Smith went for 120 on the ground from fullback with Jamale Carothers pitching in with 53 more and a score. This has to be the blueprint for the Mids going forward, finding their feet on the ground early and grinding out a win. Having Dalen Morris back in the side at QB after he missed the Air Force clash was also an important factor in the ground game.
Keep them out of the red zone
The Pirates are 1-2 on the season and picked up their first win of the year against South Florida last weekend. It was a 44-24 win that featured a balanced offense performance with both the rushing and passing attacks going over 200 yards. The Pirates are deadly inside the red zone where they have scored on all 10 of their visits in 2020. This isn’t, however, a team that is going to hurt you from long range, so if Navy can keep ECU at bay – and specifically not give kicker Jake Verity field goal opportunities – then the Pirates could find it difficult to score.
Win on special teams
We have already mentioned Verity – who became the all-time ECU leading scorer last weekend – but this is a team that can do some damage in the special teams phase. The Pirates allow just 3.0 yards per punt return, while they average 16.8 yards per punt return (eighth nationally) when then are bringing back the ball after a kick. Tyler Snead is the main return man, but there are a few options here for a team that likes to switch the flow of field position with a big return.
Saturday’s game kicks off at Noon ET. Watch on the ESPN+ Network.