The optimism continues.
No Navy fan would have dared to predict the Midshipmen would be entering their seventh game of the season with a 5-1 record. What’s even more impressive, and unexpected, is the margin by which the team has won their games. In their victories, the Midshipmen have won by an average of 27.8 points. That’s nearly four scores! Their lone loss came to the Memphis Tigers in a Thursday night road game, 35-23.
This week, Navy takes on the Tulane Green Wave at home. After the first few games of the year, it looked like Tulane may have been Navy’s second toughest opponent of the year, after Notre Dame. However, with the emergence of SMU’s undefeated record and Tulane’s loss to Memphis, the Green Wave slide to third (or maybe fourth behind Air Force).
Regardless, the point remains, the Green Wave are a talented team that could give the Midshipmen some trouble. This possibility would be significantly increased if the game was in New Orleans.
Tulane is led by an incredibly athletic, dual-threat quarterback, Justin McMillan. McMillan can get the job done in the air, but what makes him most dangerous is his running ability. The senior quarterback leads his team in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The rest of Tulane’s run-game is executed by a large committee of backfield members.
Well, since I’m not Coach Brian Newberry, I don’t know the exact gameplan. Although, I have a pretty solid idea of how this is going to go. Coach Newberry has brought an extremely aggressive approach to the defense this season. And, it’s worked out well. But, he may taper is off just a tad this week. Given McMillan’s elusiveness, look for Navy to blitz only one inside linebacker, while the other acts as a quarterback spy. Additionally, the outside linebackers and defensive ends will be looking to contain the edge of the pocket. It will be essential to prevent McMillan from getting outside in open space.
Furthermore, the Navy cornerbacks will continue to play man coverage against Mooney and McCleskey. Despite their speed, the receivers’ size matches up favorably against the Midshipmen. Had they been much bigger than the Navy corners, then the gameplan may have needed to change. Additionally, the safeties will be striving to support the cornerbacks over-the-top and keep all throws in front of them to avoid the big play.
Offensive Keys to Victory
The Navy offense has been running incredibly effectively on the whole. This is primarily a result of a relatively successful passing game from Malcolm Perry. Many of these throws have gone for big yardage, however, this is not essential. The Midshipmen simply need to make completions for positive yards in order to keep the defense honest. Mychal Cooper has been one of Perry’s favorite targets, so look for him to have a big day this week against Tulane.
Of course, managing the time of possession and not turning over the football are always crucial for a Navy win. But in this game, it will be paramount to keep the momentum in favor of the Midshipmen. This means, making field goals and extra points, avoiding negative yardage plays (i.e. sacks), and limiting the amount of 3-and-out drives. If the Green Wave start to gain momentum, Navy could quickly find themselves behind.
How To Watch:
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Oct 26
Watch: CBSSN, AFN
Listen: WNAV; or online here
Location: Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium; Annapolis, MD
Rankings: Navy enters at No. 33; Tulane at No. 38 according to CBS Sports
Betting Lines: Navy is favored by 3.5 points at home.
As previously mentioned, Tulane may end up being one of Navy’s toughest opponents this year. However, I can’t help but think that this game is a “should win” for the Midshipmen. They have been winning very convincingly in their previous games. Additionally, Navy constantly plays well at home. And, Tulane’s “impressive wins” over Army and Houston just don’t seem as impressive any more.
Because of this, Navy will win by double-digits. Malcolm Perry will continue to dominate as well as the rest of the backfield. Initially, the defense will struggle to contain McMillan, but as the game continues and adjustments are made, he will end up having a much harder day than he expected.