Three Keys: Navy vs. South Alabama

After one of the more bizarre November schedules in recent college football history the Mids will travel to Mobile to take on South Alabama on Friday. This penultimate game of the season comes after two games and two bye weeks so far this month, so there is no doubt that Navy should be rested and ready to roll by game time. Here is a look at the three keys for this day after Thanksgiving clash.

1) Win the turnover battle

South Alabama is coming off a ridiculous loss to South Carolina where they took the ball away from the Gamecocks five times. Normally when a team achieves five turnovers on the road, against an SEC powerhouse no less, they would be expecting to take something away from the game. The only problem is that for every turnover the Jaguars got, they gave one back and by the end of the game the turnovers were equal at five apiece.

The interesting part of this is that four of the five South Carolina turnovers were caused by fumbles. Navy, of course, has had ball security issues at times this year, though that does seem to have tightened up a little since Keenan Reynolds got back to something like full fitness. If the Mids do get back to their fumbling ways though it seems like the Jags are very adept at getting on top of the ball and switching the flow of the game.

Also of interest is that the four interceptions thrown by Jaguars quarterback Hunter Vaughn has resulted in his benching. This means opening day starter Brandon Bridge will be back in the lineup and looking to finish his season with a big win over the Mids. Getting to him early on defense, while he is still rusty, will be important.

2) Run the ball downhill

Take these two results into consideration if you will:

Sept 20th – South Alabama 6, Georgia Southern 28

Nov 15th – Navy 52, Georgia Southern 19

Now, a lot can happen in the course of a season, but these two results have to mean something. Georgia Southern is the only triple option team which the Jaguars have faced this year and they were beaten down at home giving up 335 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Georgia Southern does run a different style of option, more shotgun with almost nothing under center, but the principles are the same and South Alabama seemingly had no answer. Add in the fact that Navy themselves just crushed Georgia Southern two weeks ago when the Mids were finally healthy and you have a pretty good inside into what Navy should do this weekend.

Run. Run. Then run some more. 3) Take away one aspect of the South Alabama offense South Alabama doesn’t do anything exceptionally week on offense, but they do have fantastic balance. The Jaguars have passed for 191 yards and rushed for 178 yards, showing that the coaching staff is quite happy to take what a defense is giving them. The Mids though can certainly use this to their advantage because if they can shut down EITHER the pass or the run then there is not enough talent on this Jaguars team to beat Navy.

Expect to see the defense swarm and focus on getting pressure on the quarterback with just four rushers, while the linebackers and safeties fill gaps to stop the rushing attack before it gets started. Worth noting is that the Jaguars don’t really have a feature back, instead they have twelve touchdowns spread amongst six players. Navy can take advantage of this by making a statement early and forcing South Alabama to go three and out, or not move the ball much before punting, on their first couple of possessions.

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