The Navy Midshipmen (3-4) need to stop the losing slide after back to back losses. It is not going to be easy this week as the Mids take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-1), the co-leaders of the American Athletic Conference. Here are the three keys to a Navy win.
What is the team identity?
Navy football and triple-option offensive principles as synonymous with one another as bread and butter. The problem is that the triple-option hasn’t been working with Dalen Morris at QB. Through the first six games of the season, Morris had consistently misread his pre-snap reads, and then failed to deliver the ball with any consistency to the correct player in the triple-option scheme. That is why Navy completed 14-of-30 through the air against SMU for 239 yards. This was the most yardage passing for a Navy team since 2016.
There were wrinkles in the offensive game plan that need to stay long term, but the issue right now is that without a triple-option leader, this Navy team has no clear offensive identity.
The defense has to step up
The offense – as funky as it was – may have been enough to beat SMU if the defense had stood up to its end of the deal. Instead, the Mids allowed the Mustangs to score seven touchdowns and one field goal on eight straight possessions. They also gave up a monstrous 555 yards and six of those touchdowns came on drives of at least 70 yards. This isn’t an offense that is going to outscore the best teams in the conference at this point, so the defense has to be better at both getting off of the field and limiting opponents to field goal attempts.
Do the basics right
This has to be a game where the basics are done right. No missed blocking assignments on offense. No missed tackles on defense. A time of possession advantage that is brought about by success on third down. No stupid turnovers or special teams mistakes to give Tulsa a short field. No penalties to kill Navy drives or extend those of the Golden Hurricane. As good as Tulsa’s record is, this is still a team that Navy can beat by doing the basics correctly.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 11:00 AM ET. Watch on the CBS Sports network.