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Navy football Preview: Midshipmen kick off the season against Holy Cross

The Navy Midshipmen look to get off to a fast start this season with a win over FCS opponent, Holy Cross.

Houston v Navy Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Navy Midshipmen begin their season by welcoming the Holy Cross Crusaders to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Holy Cross is Navy’s lone FCS opponent this season. In 2018, the Crusaders actually finished second in the Patriot League despite posting an overall record of 5-6.

Holy Cross had an up-and-down year. At one point, the Crusaders lost a game to New Hampshire, 28-0. However, the season was salvaged by finishing it off with a four-game winning streak.

Saturday will be the first game of 2019 season for both teams, so it’s hard to tell exactly what this year’s Holy Cross team will look like. However, it’s not unreasonable to expect a similar Crusaders’ team as 2018, if not worse.

Crusaders’ Preview

Holy Cross will be looking to find their starting quarterback in this season opener against Navy. Geoff Wade, the Crusaders’ starting quarterback in 2018, graduated and needs a replacement. Emmett Clifford, a senior who has started a few games in previous years, and Matt Considine, a transfer from Wake Forest, appear to be the two leading candidates for the starting job.

Holy Cross will be looking to replace their starting wide receivers from last season as well. Considering they still have questions at quarterback, and will be starting inexperienced receivers, it’s unlikely the Crusaders will be threatening in the air attack. They will, however, be dangerous on the ground. Domenic Cozier, their starting running back, is the most explosive player on the offense. The Crusaders will look to get Cozier outsider with room to run. This could come in the form of a sweep play or a short pass. It’s unlikely to see many runs up the middle given that Cozier is a mere 5-foot-9 and 181 pounds.

On defense, Holy Cross has even more questions. Five of their six(or seven depending on the scheme) players up front graduated and will need to be replaced this season. Going up against a triple-option offense isn’t ideal when introducing new defensive lineman and linebackers. The strength of the Holy Cross defense lies with its defensive backs. This is where they are the most experienced. However, I do not expect this to discourage Navy from passing at their discretion.

How To Watch:

Time: 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Aug. 31.

Watch: CBS Sports

Location: Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD

Rankings: Navy enters week one at 92 in the CBS Sports Rankings; Holy Cross is not ranked as an FCS School

Betting Lines: Navy is favored by 21.5 points at home. The over/under is 54.5.

The Hype:

Keys to Victory

I don’t like comparing football to combat. But, since we are a military related site...

Navy football is about to set sail and embark on a four month deployment that is the college football season. It may get extended if they win enough games and play late into December or very early January. However, as anyone who has gone on deployment knows, there are work-ups prior. The Midshipmen have been slowly completing their work-ups through summer workouts and ramped up the intensity during fall training camp.

In the Marine Corps, we do PCCs and PCIs before crossing the Line of Departure. These are pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections. We also do rehearsals, or walk-throughs, prior to the mission. As Saturday gets closer, Coach Ken Niumatalolo will ensure his team is physically prepared for the game and knows exactly what they are doing on every play. The offensive line will know who to block. The linebackers will know who to cover on pass plays.

Helmuth van Moltke said “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”. Although that is often true with football, teams can still stick to their gameplan and come out on top by the end of the game. This is exactly what Navy needs to do.

The Midshipmen have won many games over the years by winning the turnover battle and limiting their penalties. So long as Navy does this, Holy Cross essentially doesn’t have a chance.

What to look for:

There are a handful of questions still lingering as the Midshipmen enter their first game of the year. How much passing will actually be implemented with Malcolm Perry back under center? How much triple-option be ran versus some suggested forms of the run-and-shoot? How will Brian Newberry’s defense look differently compared to what we have seen from Navy over the past few years? And what is going on with Navy’s kicking game?

We can go on and on about these uncertainties and many smaller ones surrounding the Midshipmen. Because this should be an easier win for Navy, we may not get all of these questions answered.

Look for our post-game article following Saturday’s game as a comprehensive examination of many of these considerations.