Eight keys to beating Navy

Five years, five straight Army losses to Navy. That leaves the players and, of course, the fans, asking the same question. When does the Knightmare end? Let's hope on Saturday when Army and Navy meet for the 108th time in Baltimore. It won't be easy, Army is a 14-point underdog, but here are the keys to victory for the Black Knights.

1. Get an early lead

And keep it. Army has held modest leads in the the first half over the last five years like 7-3 and 10-7.

But wouldn't it be nice if the Black Knights could stretch the margin to, say, 14-3 or 17-7. Put some pressure on Navy. That could set the stage for a fourth quarter that matters.

2. Consistent Carson.

If we get the Carson Williams that showed up for the Tulsa game Army isn't in bad shape. Williams threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-39 loss to Tulsa two weeks ago. He didn't throw his first interception until late in the fourth quarter and it was in desperation. That play will keep Army in the game.

If we get the inconsistent version of Williams that we have seen this year, it could be a long day.

Our bet is Carson is solid.

3. Stop Navy's triple option

This is certainly easier said than done. The Midshipmen have so many weapons on offense, starting with quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku Enhada, who has run the scheme for a year-plus now. Then there are Navy's talented running backs, including Reggie Campbell and Zerb Singleton.

Army sounds confident it can do the job. "If you play your assignment, it's like last year when we basically shut them down on offense, they have to start doing reverses and stuff they aren't used to. It's not really tricky, it's just everybody has to be on the same page every play."

Navy leads the nation in rushing, averaging 357.56 yards per game. West Virginia is second (310.09).

4. Stop Navy's fullback

That hasn't been easy. Kyle Eckel, now with the New England Patriots, bulldozed Army in 2003-04. Navy's Adam Ballard did the job in 2005, but left last year's game on the first series, suffering an ankle injury. That moves us to Eric Kettani, an emerging player, who could spell trouble for Army.

Kettani has 711 yards and nine touchdowns. Ballard is still around, too, adding 589 yards and five touchdowns.

5. Run over Navy's defense.

That actually shouldn't be hard, especially if Army can move the ball like it did against Tulsa. Navy's defense is improving, but it still ranks 107th in the nation out of 119 teams, allowing 458.27 yards per game. The Midshipmen defense is allowing 39.5 points per game.

6. Step up on defense

Early on, it seemed like Army's defense could lead the team to a run at .500. But as the offense continued to sputter, Army's defense struggled as well. This unit is better than its played as of late, better than giving up 49 points against Tulsa. Tulsa is a great team, but there is no excuse for 49. Expect the Army defense from September, rather than the unit that slowed over last two months, to show up in Baltimore.

Army has so much more talent on defense than Navy. The list of studs includes Ugenyi, defensive lineman Ted Bentler, free safety Jordan Murray and strong safety Caleb Campbell.

7. Developing a running game.

Army hasn't all year. But if the Black Knights can move the ball on the ground, they keep Navy off the field. More importantly, they take pressure off Williams under center. No running game against Navy, no dice.

8. Get the big turnover.

It's time Army gets a break. Wouldn't it be nice if the Black Knights, not Navy, gets the big fumble recovery deep in the opponents' territory. Or takes the pick to the house. Even better, wouldn't it be nice if Army makes a play like that already up a touchdown. See key No. 1.


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