The Navy Midshipmen (3-1) were soundly defeated by the Air Force Falcons (4-0) in Colorado Springs on Saturday. The final score was 28-14 to the Falcons, but it was a scoreline that flattered the Mids given how dominant Air Force was on the day. Some of the concerns we had about Navy heading into the clash reared up, while new concerns about the 2016 Mids emerged.
Here is a look back at what went wrong for Navy:
1) Win the rushing battle - Fail
Not only did Navy not win the rushing battle, the Mids were outperformed on the ground in a way the academy hasn't seen in years. Navy was ranked fifth in the country entering the game, but the Mids managed to rush for just 57 yards for the entire game. That total is almost 260 yards below Navy's season average and the Mids didn't even score until around halfway through the fourth quarter. It is not like Navy completely gave up on the running game either. The Mids had 38 rushing attempts total but managed to turn those into just 1.5 yards per carry.
2) Handling the altitude - Fail
It is hard to define just what sort of a role that the altitude played in Navy being dominated, but it is probably fair to say that the score would have been different if the game was in Annapolis. Navy seemed to come out flat, perhaps due to in part to the oxygen difference and had a hard time moving the ball from the start. This was in stark contrast to Air Force, as the Falcons got on top early and never let up the pressure on a tired, lethargic looking Navy team. It is also worth noting that two of the three Air Force touchdowns were on long plays (62 and 75 yards), a sign of tired minds and bodies.
3) Continue the success on third down - Fail
Heading into the Air Force game Navy was third in the nation on third down conversions. The Mids were completing third downs at a rate of 56 percent because the running game was allowing Navy to see so many third and short opportunities. With the running game not working at all against Air Force, however, Navy was only able to go 5-of-15 on third down, good for 33 percent on the day. The Falcons, in contrast, went 8-for-16 in third down (50%) as their rushing game was working far better than Navy's ground assault.