Three Keys Navy vs Georgia Southern

In their last home game of 2014 the Mids will take on the 8-2 Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday. With the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy having slipped away for the first time in three years, Navy is now focused on the two wins that would take the school bowling for the third straight season.

With a margin of error that would be described as slim at best, Ken Niumatalolo will have to be at their best when facing one of the hottest teams in the country. The Eagles have won seven straight and are coming into Annapolis believing they can take down the Mids. Here are the three keys.

1) Out rush the Eagles

Due to the fact they are still in a transitional year after leaving the FCS for the FBS most Georgia Southern statistical categories do not figure in the FBS rankings. If they did then it would be the Eagles, not the Mids, leading the nation in rushing yards per game. Georgia Southern is rushing for an average of 386.5 yards per game on the ground, which is the highest total since Nebraska was able to rush for 392.6 yards per game in 1997. For the sake of comparison the much vaunted Navy rushing attack is going for an average of 350.4 yards per game.

Georgia Southern, much like Navy, is not afraid to share the ball in the run game. There are, however, three guys the Mids will need to focus their defensive effort on when they are on the field. Running backs Matt Breida and Alfred Ramsey have combined for over 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns, while quarterback Kevin Ellison is the man who makes the system tick and has run for almost 950 yards and 11 scores himself.

The Navy defense should be ready for most of what the Eagles will throw at them, they run very similar systems after all. Knowing and stopping are two different things however and if the Mids cannot slow down Georgia Southern then it will be a long day at the office.

2) Win the time of possession

This works hand in hand with winning the rushing battle, but whoever wins the time of possession on Saturday will have a great chance to win the game. Neither of these teams is built in the style of an Oregon, where time of possession is irrelevant due to the up tempo pace and high scoring levels. Instead both will want to hold the ball for long drives, dictating tempo, and allowing their defenses to rest on the sidelines and recover from the punishing blocking that surrounds the option run game.

Navy has had a longer time of possession than their opponent in three of their four wins, the only exception being the blowout of VMI. With Keenan Reynolds back healthy the Mids should be able to control the ball, softening up the defense early and hitting big plays late as they tire.

3) No more turnovers

This needs to be stressed again, but Navy has just had too many turnovers this fall to be the elite team that Ken Niumatalolo is looking for. Even in the Notre Dame game, a game the Mids were very much still alive in with less than five minutes to play, there was a turnover and two failed fourth down conversions which were huge negative plays in the scheme of the game. Fumbles have been a massive problem all year and it seems that more often than not those fumbles have come at critical times and in horrible parts of the field. The key to the option attack is ball security and smart play, both have been lacking at points this fall. If Navy can win the turnover battle then they will win this game.

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