Three Keys - Navy vs Middle Tennessee

Monday is game day for the Mids as a month's worth of planning and preparation is put into effect as the Armed Forces Bowl kicks off in Fort Worth. Navy will be well schooled in what the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will be looking to do both offensively and defensively, and hopefully the coaching of Ken Niumatalolo will put the Mids in position to win the game.

Be ready to get up bright and early on New Year's Eve eve to cheer the Academy on from wherever you will be celebrating the beginning of 2014.

Here is a look at the three keys to victory.

1) Win the turnover battle

In a clash between two teams who can score in bunches turnovers will certainly be key. As mentioned in previous previews Middle Tennessee is one of the best in the country at taking the ball away from their opponents with 31 forced on the season. Navy on the other hand has been THE best in the nation at keeping the ball secure with just eight turnovers in 2013. To steal a line it is a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

The turnover battle may in fact come down to how good a job Navy's defense does of taking the ball away from a Middle Tennessee offensive unit which is susceptible to the odd mistake here and there. The Blue Raiders have thrown 13 interceptions and have lost seven fumbles on the season. Those twenty combined turnovers mean the Mids defensive players will be expecting to have the opportunity to pick a pass or jump on a loose ball or two during the bowl game.

2) New tweaks in the run game

It is going to be really interesting to see just how Middle Tennessee comes out defensively against the option attack. One of the huge benefits the Mids have with their offensive scheme is the rarity of it in the modern game and the inability of the opposition to properly prepare for it within a week. With a bowl game, however, there is usually around a month's worth of work which goes into game planning, negating the biggest advantage the option gives.

This has proven to be a problem for Navy as is shown by the fact that the Mids has just one bowl win since 2005. The X-factor here though is Keenan Reynolds and the different options, along with the dominating level of play, he has been performing with. If Niumatalolo has been using his time wisely the Mids will be bringing new plays out of their sets and doing everything they can to give Middle Tennessee different looks on game day.

3) Make Middle Tennessee one dimensional

Middle Tennessee is a team that loves to both pass and run. They average around 207 yards per game in each of those categories and use that balance to devastating effect to pile on the points. The best way for Navy to win this game is to take away one aspect of the offense so that the Blue Raiders become predictable. By doing this the Navy defense is good enough to shut down the Middle Tennessee threat, control the clock, and come out with a much needed and desired bowl victory.

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