The Navy Midshipmen (3-6) look to close out a disappointing – and oft interrupted – 2020 campaign with a win over the Army Black Knights (7-2) that would right a lot of the wrongs from the year. Here are the three keys to a Navy win.
By Steve Wright
Adapt to the road game
This will be first time since World War II that the greatest of all rivalry games has been played at the campus of either service academy. One of the coolest parts about the Army-Navy game – especially in recent years – has been it being a sort of traveling act to some of the best NFL stadiums in the region, giving the players that type of pro exposure that few will ever experience on a Sunday. This year – obviously – is very different. Navy comes into this as a big underdog and the Mids will have the unique experience of taking on Army at West Point with just the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen in attendance. It will be different and it will feel weird – especially for upperclassmen that have been through this – and adapting quickly to the game will be huge.
What is the QB situation?
Replacing Malcolm Perry was always going to be hard, but I would be stunned if Ken Niumatalolo thought it would be this level of impossible. Perry tore Army to pieces as he rushed for an insane 304 yards and two touchdowns at an average of over a first down per carry (10.5 yards per tote). Navy has simply never found a QB to run the system properly, using seven different signal-callers at a time. They started Xavier Arline to little effect last weeks against Tulsa – he rushed for 60 yards on 27 carries – before reverting to original starter Dalen Morris late in the game when the Mids needed a spark. Someone – anyone – needs to step up here.
Defense will be key
With the offense failing so drastically, it is worth noting that the defense has been great over the last two weeks. The Mids held Tulsa and Memphis to a combined 29 points – 10-7 and 19-6 defeats – and their level of executions is something that the offense needs to aspire to here. Army hasn’t played in almost a month – they could be rested or rusty – and their schedule has been far from challenging with three FCS teams among their wins. Stopping their rushing attack that goes for almost 300 yards per game will be touch, but the defensive turnaround in late November/December at least means there is hope for Navy to pick up a morale-boosting win in New York.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 3:00 pm ET. Watch on the CBS Network.