Game 10 of 12 – Navy @ Troy

With the countdown to kickoff getting closer it is time to take an early look at each game on the Navy schedule. Instead of taking the game chronologically we are going to look at the games in order of their importance to the season. It is time for the 10th most important game on the Navy schedule, ironically enough the 10th game of the season on the road against Troy.

Importance Level

With the FCS and new to FBS schools out of the way this is the first game on our countdown that involves a school who was playing top level college football last year. This contest will see Navy travel to Troy, Alabama to return the favor from the game in Annapolis in 2011. Navy plays a number of teams ranked near the bottom of the FBS in all preseason polls and Troy is no exception. What makes this game of slightly less significance than the others is the fact it is on the opponent's turf.

Navy's Keys to Winning

When Troy and Navy met in 2011 it was in the middle of strange seasons for both schools. Troy, like Navy, had been on the upswing the last few years and had actually won eight games in each of the previous five seasons before an epic collapse to 3-9. This sudden drop in wins was caused in equal parts by a talent exodus to the NFL, an increase in the level of the Sun Belt, and uncharacteristic individual mistakes on the field. For a blueprint of how to beat the Trojans Navy need look no further than game tape of the 42-14 Midshipmen blow out in 2011. With teams that are still trying to find their identity (Troy has plenty of athletic talent but lacks direction under pressure) the key is to get off to a quick start and take the fight out them early. Last year Navy piled up 385 yards in the first half en route to a 35-0 lead at the break. Obviously that figure is a once in a decade achievement, but if Navy can run the ball early and control clock they should have no problem against a Troy team which will be improved but still raw.

How Navy Could Lose

As mentioned above Troy figure to be vastly improved over the 2011 squad. The program has a recent history of winning and the coaching staff does an excellent job of finding under the radar athletes in a very fertile recruiting area. This defensive improvement will be the key to the team in 2012 as a unit that produced NFL studs like Usi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware dropped to a woeful 113th in the country last season. A quick turnaround is possible though as four JuCo transfers and players returning from injury will help stop the defensive rot.

Offensively Troy was good through the air and miserable on the ground one year ago. If the Trojans can find some balance from this unit then they will be a far more dangerous foe. To that end senior tailbacks Shawn Southward and D.J. Taylor will need to be contained by the Navy defense in order to make the Trojans one dimensional. Quarterback Corey Robinson posted very solid numbers his freshman and sophomore years and no drop off will be expected from him as a junior. He can make mistakes reading coverage though and Navy DBs will need to be on their toes to capitalize on those errors.

What Will Happen

This game will be the most interesting on the list so far as it features two squads looking to make dramatic improvements over last year. Navy knows how to beat Troy and will throw everything at the Trojans early creating a sense of déjà vu for the Alabama crew. This game will be tighter than 42-12, but Navy will still run out convincing winners. Top Stories