Preview box: Navy at Central Michigan

October 11, 2012

When: 8 p.m. Where: Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, Mich.

TV: ESPN2.

Radio: WFED (820 AM, 1500 AM), WNAV (1430 AM).

Records: Midshipmen 2-3; Chippewas 2-3.

Establish the run: The Midshipmen finally got on track offensively on Saturday, compiling 363 rushing yards and winning the time-of-possession battle in a 28-21 victory over Air Force. They’ll probably need to be well ahead of Central Michigan in both categories in order to win consecutive games for the first time since last November and remain in the mix to get back to a bowl game. Lengthy drives will be especially important against the Chippewas, who can score in bunches but who also rank 114th against the run.
Get off the field:
The Falcons converted 8 of 14 third-down attempts last weekend, and Navy ranks 111th nationally in third-down conversion defense, allowing opponents first downs nearly 51 percent of the time. With Central Michigan’s preference to throw frequently, Navy must force three-and-outs as frequently as possible. Otherwise, Navy risks fatigue in the fourth quarter trying to stop the Chippewas’ spread offense.
Kicking confidence:
The most uncertain position during the preseason has become perhaps the Midshipmen’s most reliable thanks to place kicker Nick Sloan. The first freshman to start at the position for Navy since 1996 is 5 of 5 on field goal attempts, including a long of 41 against Air Force, and 9 for 9 on extra point tries. As one of five FBS place kickers who has not missed a field goal or extra point this season, Sloan gives the coaching staff and teammates peace of mind should the outcome depend on a kick in the waning moments.

— Gene Wang

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