Three Keys - Navy vs. Pittsburgh

The Mids begin the second half of their season this weekend with the visit of Pittsburgh. At 3-3 the season could go either way and even though the Panthers are a 6 point favorite Ken Niumatalolo will have every belief that an upset is in the works. A win here would be a huge boost toward bowl eligibility for Navy against a team they are playing for the first time since 2009.

The Mids begin the second half of their season this weekend with the visit of Pittsburgh. At 3-3 the season could go either way and even though the Panthers are a 6 point favorite Ken Niumatalolo will have every belief that an upset is in the works. A win here would be a huge boost toward bowl eligibility for Navy against a team they are playing for the first time since 2009.

Here are the three keys.

1) Go back to basics on offense

The key to winning this game is for the Mids to channel what was working for the first two weeks of the season on offense. Somewhere along the way Navy has lost the mojo which saw it put up 92 points combined in those two games, but there were definite signs of improvement on offense last week which need to be built upon. The success against Indiana and Delaware was driven by mistake free, assignment heavy football. Even last week when the Mids put up 44 points the offense was culpable for a fumble which was returned 68 yards for a score. If that mistake doesn't happen there is every chance Navy is 4-2 right now. The offense must be turnover free for the Mids to have a chance here.

2) Stop breaking on defense

Bend but don't break as a defensive philosophy is okay as long as it is working. The problem is that for the last six quarters it hasn't really worked at all and Buddy Green's unit has been torched for a combination of long scoring plays and long, touchdown scoring drives. That is not a good combination for a Navy team which, due to its makeup, cannot play catch up football. It will be very interesting to see how the Mids change their approach to stop Panther running backs James Connor and Isaac Bennett from ripping off the long runs on Saturday. If the defense can go back to forcing short field goals instead of giving up touchdowns then this becomes a very different game.

3) No hangover in the kicking game

Obviously the kicking game failed at a crucial moment last weekend. It is important, though. that Nick Sloan forgets about sending his extra point attempt in the second overtime to the right and that he is ready when his number is called on Saturday. Sloan has looked a little inconsistent recently, he also missed a 29-yard field goal against Duke, but his 40-yard field goal to send the Toledo game to overtime was one of the biggest moments of his career. Kicking at this level is as much mental as it is physical and Sloan will have to deliver when all eyes are on him this weekend.

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