The 1-2 Midshipmen will face off against a 3-1 San Jose State Spartans squad on Saturday in what promises to be an entertaining encounter. Both teams will fancy their chances at victory and here are three keys which will help Navy achieve that goal.
1) Make big plays early
San Jose State is managing to toe the line as both one of the hottest teams in the country and also one of the most underrated at the same time. The Spartans 3-1 record includes a 3 game win streak, while their only loss was by a field goal to a Stanford team who have since knocked off USC and risen to No. 8 in the polls. Simply put, this is not going to be easy.
What Navy needs to do is get on top early. The Spartans have not played in the Eastern Time Zone since 2003 and none of the current roster has any experience with this extreme of a time zone change. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 ET kick off which will give Navy the early advantage as the SJSU players are still trying to shake off the rust and the jetlag of travelling nearly 2,900 miles for the game. If the Midshipmen are able to strike quickly and make a couple of big plays either offensively or defensively in the first half of the first quarter then they could be up a score or two before the Spartans have even woken up.
2) Protect the ball
This goes a little without saying, but the ball security just has to be better than it has been through the first three games. Trey Miller was a fumble recovery by an offensive lineman away from being pulled against VMI, and you can bet Ken Niumatalolo will once again have the hook ready if his quarterback continues to struggle with hanging on to the ball. The Midshipmen have won consistently over the last decade due in large part to discipline with the ball and not making mistakes. If Niumatalolo had any other experienced options you can bet Miller's 8 turnovers this season would have cost him his job already. As it is Miller will be expected to perform, hold onto the ball, and lead the Mids triple option attack to a win on Saturday.
3) Rack up yards after contact
San Jose State may have assured themselves of a winning record heading into October for the first time since 2008, but the Spartans showed some signed of vulnerability against San Diego State last time out. One stat the Mids will be very interested in is the 271 yards rushing which the Aztecs (not a noted rushing power) were able to produce. Of key note is the fact that the Spartans had all kinds of problems in putting the ball carriers down with the first hit and that they fell off of any number of tackles as the game progressed. Navy, of course, will be throwing both the power and the outside run game at SJSU this weekend, but the leaning might want to go to the outside option as Gee Gee Green and company may prove to be just too slippery for the Spartans to contain.
Three Keys: Navy vs. San Jose State
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