Preview: Navy at East Carolina
3:30 p.m. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C. TV: Fox College Sports Atlantic. Radio: WFED (820, 1500 AM), WNAV (1430 AM). Records: Midshipmen 4-3; Pirates 5-3.
CONSISTENT KICKING: Navy lost to East Carolina by three points last season, 38-35, and the Midshipmen often play close games regardless, so place kicker Nick Sloan may need to make a kick to win. Coach Ken Niumatalolo said he has supreme confidence in Sloan, who is one two kickers nationally who has not missed an attempt this year, and one of 16 true freshman starting at the position. Sloan has made all seven of his field goal attempts and is 17 for 17 on extra points after winning the job in a five-way preseason competition.
BUCKLE DOWN ON THIRD DOWN: Keeping the Pirates’ quick-strike spread attack from extending drives on third down will be paramount for the Midshipmen, whose defense has been able to make stands when necessary despite occasionally yielding significant yardage. Navy allowed Indiana to amass 417 yards in a 31-30 win last week, but it forced two three-and-outs at critical junctures, including late in regulation when the offense needed the ball back following Sloan’s field goal that trimmed the deficit to six.
STAY DISCIPLINED: The Midshipmen have been among the least-penalized teams over the past decade, and this season is no different. They rank first nationally in fewest penalty yards per game (24.7) and third in fewest penalties per game (3.6). Navy would have committed none last week if it were not for two intentional delays of game to gain punting room. The Midshipmen can ill afford to give any opponent, much less a high-scoring team like East Carolina, free yards via penalties.
— Gene Wang