Navy looks to end season on a high note

What does Navy think of its nine-game winning streak over rival Army? "We don't ever talk about it because it doesn't mean anything," coach Ken Niumatalolo said as he got his players ready for the annual game.

"Certainly, we are proud of all the players and coaches who have been part of building that streak. But none of those nine wins will have any bearing on what happens in this next game."
   And the outcome of this game will have no bearing on whether or not either team will play another 2011football game. Both will not.
   The Midshipmen (4-7) needed a win at San Jose State to have a chance at going to a ninth straight bowl game and would have needed to beat Army for a 10th straight time to get there. But a loss in that game made this one meaningless ... in that regard.
   The game with Army is never meaningless.
   "I think it's all the more to play for," said quarterback Kriss Proctor. "I was just talking to Kaipo(former QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada), and he was talking about how he misses it so much and how he misses his brothers and how he wishes he could be out here on the practice field running around. We have all that to play for, and it's a lot.
   "In those terms, it's going to be a big game."
   You see, at the academies, it's not all about the bowls.
   --Navy takes a nine-game winning streak against Army into Saturday's annual game, outscoring their top rivals 322-91 in the nine games. The closest game during the stretch was in 2006, when Navy won by a 26-14 count.
   --The last time Army beat Navy capped an 0-11 Navy season in 2001, with coach Charlie Weatherbie getting fired with three games left in the season.
   --The Mids will not be going bowling for the first time in nine years because of a 27-24 loss at San Jose State back on Nov. 19, the last time either Navy or Army played. That defeat dropping the Mids to 4-7 on the
   --Navy has lost five games by a total of 11 points and is one of four FBS teams with five losses by eight points or less.
   "I hope all of us -- from coaches to players to the administration -- understand that it's hard to win. It is hard to win," coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "We lost five games by a total of 11 points, but the bottom line is that we still lost. That's how small a margin of error we have here. We can never take (winning) for granted around here."
   --The Mids have outscored the opposition, 91-17, in the first halves of their four wins and been outscored, 152-66, in the opening 30 minutes of the seven losses.
   --Seven Navy opponents were bowl eligible, running up a 70-49 cumulative record. Two, South Carolina and Southern Missisiipi, were ranked.
   SERIES HISTORY: Navy leads Army 55-49-7 (last meeting, 2010, 31-17, Navy)
   SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Quarterback Kriss Proctor is playing with a throwing elbow that could pop out at any time. But Navy's success on offense is never banking on the ability to throw the ball, other than to mix things up. This is all about running the option and the Mids come into the game against Army as the No. 4 rushing team in the country. And they will face a defense that stopped the pass well this season but was 92nd in the nation against the run.
   SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Mids can look in the mirror and see what they have to stop. But they haven't been great at stopping the run all season, sitting 81st in the nation in that department. They won't see to many surprises this week, in a true test of two shaky rush defenses trying to limit two strong option attacks.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "We can't do anything about the past. We have the biggest game of the year coming up. We have to find a way to get ready." -- Coach Ken Niumatalolo of his team heading into the Army game with no chance of reaching a ninth straight bowl.
   THIS WEEK'S GAME: Navy vs. Army in Landover, Md., Dec. 10 -- The annual game comes with all the pomp and circumstance, regardless of the records comings in. Neither team is going bowling this year but a win by one over the other tends to make for a successful season. Navy has won the last nine games of the series to take a 55-49-7 series lead.
   KEYS TO THE GAME: As usual when you're talking about these two teams you're talking about the option, the ability to run it and the ability to stop it. If both run it well, it could come down to turnovers and that should benefit Navy. The Mids are one of the better turnover margin teams in the country, while Army is one of the worst.
   QB Kriss Proctor -- He has run for a net of 817 yards and passed for 774, but he is just 51-for-100 passing and has seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Remember, he's playing with a throwing (left) elbow that can pop out at any time.
   DE Jabaree Tuani -- He had two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the loss at San Jose State Nov. 19. For his career, he is tied for second on Navy's all-time tackles for loss list with 42 (12 this year); and he is third in the program in career sacks, with 16 (5.5 this season). He also forced a fumble in the painful lost at San Jose.
   SB Aaron Santiago -- He ran for 62 yards and a 21-yard touchdown on just six carries in the San Jose loss. He was on the losing side of a game for the first time this season at San Jose State. Coming in, the Mids were 4-0 in games Santiago played, 0-6 in the games he missed with a broken arm.
   FB Alexander Teich -- He's always a key to the option attack and wants to go out in style. "You're taught from day one around here about how to beat Army, how to beat Air Force and how to get to a bowl game," he said. "So far, our class hasn't accomplished two of the three and it really hurts. We still have a chance to beat Army at the end, which could really salvage the season."
   --LB Matt Brewer and CB David Sperry both set career highs with 11 tackles in the Nov. 19 27-24 loss at San Jose State.
   --OG John Dowd was guilty of a key unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that helped kill a scoring drive in that game, the penalty forcing Navy into a 46-yard field goal attempt, only to have punter Pablo Beltran muff the snap.
   --Coach Ken Niumatalolo on the long layoff between the loss at San Jose and the Army game: "Hopefully, it will be good for us for guys to get away and recharge the batteries. It's been a tough year, so hopefully they can get all of that out of their system, go home and see their families and loved ones." Top Stories