With a top 50 defense in college football, the Navy Midshipmen have had their ups-and-downs on that side of the ball this season. Luckily for the unit, they’re riding off their best performance this season, giving up a season-low 14 points to Temple last time out.
In that victory over Temple, they gave up only 182 yards. Although it was the best performance of the season, the Mids unit ranks 45th in yards per game at 359.2. The Navy defense has also given up an average of nearly 30 points per game. Luckily in two of its last four, they’ve given up less than 20 points. In the last fifteen Army-Navy games, the Mids have given up no more than 21 points.
They’ll have to focus on its rush defense, as Army ranks 2nd in the country in piling up yards on the ground. The good news for the Midshipmen is that they rank 39th in the country in rushing defense and see the same option offense every week in practice. Opponents rarely run the ball against the Mids because of this, as the fourth-lowest amount of rushing attempts have happened against Navy.
A lot of that strong rush defense is led by their defensive captain, Diego Fagot, the team leader in total tackles (88), tackles for a loss (11), and QB hits (4). The expected NFL Draft pick was picked to Phil Steele’s Preseason Third Team All- America and proves that accolade every time out. Whenever a tackle is needed up the middle, Fagot is there. The first one to break into the backfield is Fagot. He is always there.
Behind him is a strong secondary of Jamal Glenn, John Marshall and Michael McMorris. McMorris leads the team in pass breakups and is tied for most sacks on the team. Glenn and Marshall have continually gotten better every week in the secondary, as the Midshipmen have given up 220 or fewer yards through the air in four of its last six.
Unluckily for the Midshipmen's defense, they lost a key cog to their defense in Johnny Hodges heading into the Temple game. The Capital Gazette released an story right before the game that Hodges abruptly left the program. He was second on the team at the time in total tackles, tied for the lead with pass breakups.
Another key problem with the Midshipmen defense is the lack of turnovers they force. With interceptions, Navy ranks 98th in the country with only seven, yet to return one for a touchdown. On the fumble behalf, they rank 71st in the country with only six recoveries.
One area where the Midshipmen are really good at is that they give up significantly fewer points on the road. Only twice this season, a team has scored 30+ against the Mids away from Annapolis, with that being Memphis and Notre Dame. Neither of those were overly dominant offensive games for those sides, as they got the help with some questionable calls.
As we all know, this game is typically a defensive battle in the trenches. Navy will have to use all those long hours of practice in the Annapolis summer heat and capitalize from it on Saturday.