Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Three keys to a Navy Midshipmen football win over the East Carolina Pirates

After a weekend off the Mids season really kicks off on Saturday with the visit of East Carolina to Annapolis. This game will be the Mids first conference clash in the school’s history and Navy will be looking to make their intent known to the entire American Athletic Conference with a commanding victory. East Carolina is a team that is expected to be a mid-tier AAC squad and their 1-1 start to the season would seem to bear out that line of thinking.

With all that being said here are the three keys for Navy to take down the Pirates and start conference life with a victory:

1) Stop running back Chris Hairston

The Pirates have played two games so far this fall. In game one against Towson senior running back Chris Hairston rushed 18 times for 154 yards and four touchdowns. The Pirates won the game. In game two against Florida Hairston rushed 17 times for 15 yards and zero touchdowns. The Pirates lost the game. ECU is a team that wants to be balanced on offense. If the Mids can shut Hairston and the running game down, then quarterback Blake Kemp will have to try to beat Navy with his arm. That is a risk Ken Niumatalolo will be willing to take.

2) Ride the fullbacks

It has been mentioned often that the fullback is the key to the triple option and Navy in 2015 has three players at the position who are perfect for the role. With the Mids being so loaded at the spot, Niumatalolo has the luxury or rotating his players to keep them fresh and riding the hot hand when it emerges. The Navy running game simply wears down the opposition and if the fullbacks get the same workload, with a similar result, as they did in the opener against Colgate then by the beginning of the fourth quarter they are going to be very difficult to stop.

3) Win the time of possession battle

This is an interesting clash of offensive styles because both Navy and East Carolina want to dictate the tempo of the game with their offenses. While Navy uses the triple option to eat clock and sustain drives while wearing down their opponents, the Pirates are a possession passing team. They do not necessarily look for the big, game breaking play on offense and are more than happy to progress the ball down the field by using their sure handed receivers over the middle. Owning the tempo here is going to be very important for Navy.


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