Week Two Navy Midshipmen vs UConn
Story By Deborah Leung
Photo’s By Benjamin Rogers
Navy got off to a good start in the 2016 season by beating Fordham, 52-16. The win came with a cost, though, as starting quarterback Tago Smith suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter and will be out for the rest of the season. In stepped Will Worth, who ran the triple-option attack just fine and kept the Midshipmen offense rolling.
For UConn, it was a case of barely escaping an upset bid by FCS member Maine, as the Huskies came back from a 21-14 deficit in the 4th quarter to win, 24-21, on a Bobby Puyol field goal with 11 seconds left. The UConn rushing attack was dominant, going for 400 yards while the rushing defense held the Black Bears to a dismal 40 yards.
What To Know About Navy.
With Smith now gone from the offense, it is most likely Worth’s team to run. It is helpful that running back Chris High is a stud, as he went off for 176 yards on just 10 runs and two touchdowns against Fordham. The triple-option offense that head coach Ken Niumatalolo runs is hard to prepare for, and even more difficult to stop.
Linebacker Daniel Gonzales led the Midshipmen with 10 total tackles, including one for loss as Navy held Fordham to 16 points. The defense will have to improve, though, as the Rams were able to gain 464 yards, even controlling time of possession, which is unusual against the Midshipmen.
What to Know About UConn.
The Huskies depend on the running game, with quarterback Bryant Shirreffs gaining 95 yards on the ground while also throwing for 162 yards. Down in the red zone, the ball goes to bruiser Ron Johnson, who scored two touchdowns for the Huskies in the opener.
UConn will have to be patient on defense and defend the running attack complete with all the options Navy has available from its formations. Linebacker Vontae Diggs will have to play a large role in containing the Midshipmen running backs after having an impressive performance with nine total tackles against Maine.
Offense: Navy. No matter how long you practice against it, defending Navy’s offense is never easy.
Defense: Navy. In usual circumstances, the Midshipmen defense is not on the field as much as their opponents due to the offense controlling the clock.
Special Teams: UConn. Kicker Bobby Puyol nailed the game-winning field goal while also handling kickoff duties.
Coaching: Navy. Niumatalolo is one of the best in the business in a job that is as difficult as they come.
Intangibles: Navy. Playing for its injured leader Tago Smith will provide an extra spark.
Matchup To Watch.
Navy backfield vs. UConn linebackers
I know I keep on harping on this, but to beat Navy, you must stop the triple-option attack. There is almost no passing game in the Midshipmen’s game plan.
Navy vs. UConn Prediction.
This has the potential to be the quickest games of the season, as both offenses love to run the ball. Navy will methodically move the ball down the field with Worth and High, making the UConn defense wear down in the second half. When it comes to a game of conditioning, you always have to go with Navy. The Midshipmen win in a close one.
Navy vs. UConn Score Prediction: Navy 27, UConn 10