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On the anniversary of 9/11, Navy football looks to bounce back vs. Air Force

A lot of eyes will be on this game. If Navy wants to win at home, it will need to correct several mistakes it made vs. Marshall.

NCAA Football: Marshall at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I think we can all agree that the Navy Midshipmen got off to a less-than-ideal start to their 2021 season.

After a 49-7 loss to Marshall, many fans may be seriously concerned about Navy’s upcoming game against the Air Force Falcons. However, I would contest that the scoreboard of Navy’s first game suggests a significantly different picture than the quality of this team. Here are a few statistics from the game that are unrelated to the final score.

  • Time of Possession

Navy: 41:19
Marshall: 18:41

  • First Downs

Navy: 24
Marshall: 23

  • Turnovers

Navy: 2
Marshall: 3

  • Total Yards

Navy: 398
Marshall: 464

  • Penalties

Navy: 4-22
Marshall: 5-27

Navy also averaged 4.4 yards per carry despite rotating multiple quarterbacks in throughout the game.

BUT, let’s be honest — 49-7 is a brutal loss, especially at home. Navy had some serious issues on special teams and a handful of silly mistakes, which can both be explained by inexperienced players on offense and early season hiccups.

Let’s take a look at how the Midshipmen match up against a Service Academy rival.

Air Force Offense

During the Falcons’ 35-14 win in their season opener against Lafayette, the offense performed quite well. Air Force rushed for 420 yards, with junior running back Brad Roberts accounting for 111 yards. The team also converted 100% of their fourth down attempts, a key statistic for these Service Academy bouts.

Despite Roberts’ strong performance, Air Force junior quarterback Haazig Daniels stole the show with his three touchdowns. Daniels and Roberts will be the key personnel Navy’s offense will look to slow this coming Saturday. Turnovers will be crucial. Yet, these may be hard to come by given the Falcons’ disciplined nature.

Air Force Defense

Much like their offense, Air Force came out strong early in their match against Lafayette. The Falcons really only showed susceptibility in their secondary, while their run defense held Lafayette to a mere 1.8 yards per-carry. This is not at all a good sign for Navy’s rushing attack. It’s still uncertain who will be leading the Midshipmen from under-center come Saturday. But whoever it is, they will facing a capable front seven who are well-acquainted with the triple-option offense.

20th Anniversary of 9/11

This Saturday’s game will take place on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks on the United States. To call it an anniversary is moderately unsettling, because we often think of anniversaries as happy and positive times. Service members, including those who have graduated from Navy and Air Force, have made tremendous sacrifices since September 11, 2001.

While this day will continue to live on in infamy, it is important that we remember those who have defended our country and our way of life, and celebrate their bravery and selfless dedication.