The Navy Midshipmen (2-0) continued their unbeaten start to the season when they traveled to New Orleans and beat the Tulane Green Wave (1-2) by a 21-14 scoreline. Claiming the Mids first win in the city since the 1994 season was far from easy however as the Navy team still isn't playing to the level Ken Niumatalolo would like. A win is still a win though and Navy can now move on to the next game.
Here is a look at how the three keys played out for Navy in this one:
1) Win the rushing battle - Pass
It was triple-option versus spread-option on Saturday as Niumatalolo put his offense up against that of Willie Fritz. In the end, it was Navy that came out on top in the rushing battle as they Mids ran for 287 yards compared to 240 yards for Tulane. It is interesting that the yards per carry average in the game were remarkably similar. Navy rushed for 5.2 yards per tote, while Tulane ran at a clip of 5.1 yards per carry. The difference, therefore, was that Navy had eight more rushing plays, turning them into 47 extra rushing yards. Navy held the ball slightly longer (31:06 compared to 28:54), but two lost fumbles could have cost the Mids the game.
2) Shore up the pass defense - Push
Just quickly glancing at the stats would suggest that the Navy passing defense was dominant against Tulane. Starting quarterback Johnathan Brantley was contained through the air in his first start as he completed just 3 of 12 passes for 21 yards. Brantley was so ineffective on pure passing downs that when the Green Waves was chasing the game on its final drive he was replaced by former starter Glen Cuiellette (who was then thrown to the ground on the final two Tulane plays of the game). The frustration here is the opportunities that passed Navy by on defense throughout the contest.
3) Put together a complete game - Fail
Navy has still to put together a complete game in 2016. This time, the Mids had to drive (and score) late to win a game that they had so many chances to control. The mistakes included the ultra basic, such as a missed extra point, that just cannot happen at this level. Two lost fumbles almost cost Navy the game, but it was the four dropped interceptions that kept the contest close. If the Mids defensive backs are able to hold on to just half of those chances, when this game is a blowout in favor of Navy.