Navy football preview: Midshipmen vs Florida Atlantic

September 8, 2010

strike first: The Midshipmen are 29-4 under Coach Ken Niumatalolo when scoring first and 8-20 when the opponent does, so getting the lead early again will be a point of emphasis against Florida Atlantic. This blueprint for success during the triple- option era not only gives Navy’s offense momentum, but allows the defense to play a bit looser and with more freedom, often resulting in quarterback pressures and tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

STAY GROUNDED: The Midshipmen are coming off a season-high 517 rushing yards in a 56-28 victory over East Carolina, which entered the game ranked 32nd against the run. This week, Navy faces a Florida Atlantic defense ranked 96th against the run at 201.1 rushing yards per game, so the potential is there for another productive afternoon, especially from the slotbacks. Players at that position combined to rush for 350 yards, the second most in the triple- option era, and two touchdowns on 40 carries against the Pirates.

BALL SECURITY: Navy had its first perfect record in October since 1996 in large part because it turned over the ball just once last month. The team’s only turnover came in last week’s win against the Pirates, when quarterback Keenan Reynolds underthrew a pass into the end zone that was intercepted. The Midshipmen committed a dozen turnovers through their first four games on the way to a 1-3 record that included two losses to open the season by a combined 84-17. Now they can clinch a berth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl with a win.

— Gene Wang

3:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

TV: CBS Sports Network. Radio: WFED (820, 1500 AM), WNAV (1430 AM).

Records: Midshipmen 5-3; Owls 2-6.

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