Navy Midshipmen (3-6) (3-4 AAC) vs. Army Black Knights (7-2)
ESPN’s College Gameday: 9:00 AM EST-12:00 PM EST
March On: CBS Sports Network begins coverage at 12:00 PM EST
Corps of Cadets at 12:10 PM EST // Brigade of Midshipmen at 12:40 PM EST
Kickoff: 3:10 PM EST
Location: Michie Stadium, West Point, NY
Spread: Army -7
FPI: Army 75%
Series: Navy leads 61-52-7 (Army won 3 of last 4)
Army/Navy week is finally here. It’s the most stressful week of my year. This year, it happens to also fall on the second most stressful week of my year, finals week.
So while I’m a big ball of stress, let’s take a look at the game.
I assume more Navy fans than normal will read this, so let me put a disclaimer out there before we get super in-depth. I’m a die-hard Army fan, and it’s super hard to stay completely unbiased when it comes to this game. I’ll do my best, but you’ve been warned.
This year’s game is special. It’s not in Philadelphia or Baltimore. It’s at Michie Stadium. This will be the first time the game isn’t a neutral site since 1943.
It is also a unique set of circumstances for Army as they will be playing Air Force the week after Army/Navy due to a COVID cancellation earlier in the season. It’s the first time Army/Navy won’t be Army’s last regular-season game since 1933 when they played Notre Dame.
Navy is coming into the game sitting at 3-6 and 3-4 in the American.
They average 18.4 points per game. They run for 185.3 yards per game and pass for 107.2.
The Midshipmen have seen five different quarterbacks take snaps under center this season.
Freshman Xavier Arline should be the starter on Saturday, but don’t be surprised if multiple QB’s get snaps as they have only had two games where only one QB got playing time (Dalen Morris in both).
Here’s a breakdown of Navy’s QB room:
Xavier Arline: 101 yards, 42 carries, 0 TD’s // 27 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 4 completions, 8 attempts, 4 sacks
Dalen Morris: 46 yards, 68 carries, 2 TD’s // 570 yards, 3 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 32 completions, 62 attempts, 11 sacks
Tyger Goslin: 31 yards, 24 carries, 0 TD’s // 333 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT, 15 completions, 35 attempts, 4 sacks
Perry Olsen: 25 yards, 10 carries, 0 TD’s // 14 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 2 completions, 4 attempts, 3 sacks
Maasai Maynor: 8 yards, 1 carry, 0 TD’s // 14 yards, 0 TD’s, 1 INT, 2 completions, 3 attempts, 0 sacks
As you can see, the Mids have had problems with the QB run this season. They have gotten little to no production out of it. Only putting up 211 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries (1.5 YPC).
Malcolm Perry averaged 155.15 rushing yards per game last season, that’s 30 yards less than what the team as a whole puts up this season. They miss that running presence at QB.
They’ve been throwing a lot more to compensate for the lack of run game out of the QB spot. The Navy offensive line hasn’t been able to keep their QB upright, giving up 19 sacks this season.
The two key players for this Midshipmen offense is fullback Nelson Smith and wide receiver Mychal Cooper.
Smith is the teams leading rusher with 622 yards, eight touchdowns. He puts up 5.3 YPC as well.
Cooper has a team-leading 199 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
If Navy can get both of these guys going, their offense might finally score a touchdown, which is something they haven’t done in seven quarters.
Defensively, they give up 32 PPG, 212.6 yards on the ground, and 197.8 yards through the air.
Run defense is definitely a point of concern for the Mids. Linebacker Diego Fagot has been the anchor of the defense this season with his 67 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
They’ve looked great defensively in their last two games, holding the high powered Memphis offense (31.8 PPG) to only 10 points in their 10-7 loss to the Tigers. The Navy defense then held the Tulsa (411.1 YPG) to 296 yards in their 19-6 loss.
They’ve forced nine turnovers this season (3 interceptions, 6 fumbles).
Like the QB room, Navy’s defense has seen a lot of shuffling around. Defensive end Jackson Perkins is the only player on Navy’s defense to start all of their games.
Navy has had 25 first-time starters this season. That is tied for the second-most in the nation with none other than Army.
Navy Special Teams
Special teams-wise, Bijan Nichols is 6-10 on field goals and 16-18 on extra points. On the other side, opposing kickers are 20-22 on field goals and 30-31 on extra points. The Mids have blocked three kicks this season.
Army comes into the game sitting at 7-2. They are averaging 30.6 points per game, 296.7 rushing yards, and 50.2 passing yards per game.
The Black Knights have had six QB’s take snaps under center this season. Monken has been quiet on who will start, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t Tyhier Tyler.
Here’s the breakdown of the six QB’s:
Tyhier Tyler: 344 yards, 73 carries, 1 TD // 25 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 1 completion, 2 attempts, 2 sacks
Christian Anderson: 316 yards, 72 carries, 4 TD’s // 158 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT’s, 15 completions, 40 attempts, 2 sacks
Jemel Jones: 237 yards, 41 carries, 3 TD’s // 156 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 9 completions, 19 attempts, 2 sacks
Maurice Bellan: 46 yards, 13 carries, 0 TD’s // 10 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 1 completion, 1 attempt, 1 sack
Cade Ballard: 20 yards, 9 carries, 1 TD // 106 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT’s, 2 completions, 4 attempts, 2 sacks
Christian Parrish: 16 yards, 5 carries, 0 TD’s // 0 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 0 completions, 0 attempts, 0 sacks
Army’s QB’s have been much more efficient on the ground. Three QB’s individually have more rushing yards than all of Navy’s QB’s combined.
Passing wise, the Black Knights have one less passing touchdown than Navy on 46 fewer attempts. By that same token, they also have one more interception than Navy.
The bottom line is Army trusts their QB’s to run a lot more than Navy does. They don’t want to pass unless they have to. In the one game where they passed more than they should’ve, they lost to Cincinnati.
There is a cause of concern for the Army offense, however. They have five turnovers in the last two games (six if you include the one on special teams). If they turn the ball over three times in this matchup, they will lose. There is no doubt about that. Possessions are at a premium. You can’t give Navy extra possessions regardless of how unimpressive their offense is.
Two key players for the Black Knights offense are slotback Tyrell Robinson and fullback Jakobi Buchanan.
Robinson has been Army’s spark plug this season. The freshman speedster has 379 rushing yards (7.6 YPC), 89 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns.
Buchanan came out of nowhere this year. He is the teams leading rusher with 383 yards and five touchdowns.
If Robinson is getting 7-8 yards per rush and Buchanan is punishing Navy up the middle, it could be a long day for the Midshipmen.
The fact that they play Air Force the following week shouldn’t change the Army’s game plan. This is their Super Bowl. Not Air Force.
Defensively, the Black Knights give up 16.3 points per game, 170.3 passing yards, and 119 rushing yards.
Linebacker Jon Rhattigan leads the way. Rhattigan is a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s best defensive player.
He has 67 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions (one pick-six), and one fumble recovery on the year.
The Army defense has forced 14 turnovers (10 interceptions, 4 fumbles). Getting the ball back to the offense has been a strong suit of this Army team.
Army’s secondary has been outstanding. Led by Jabari Moore and Marquel Broughton (two interceptions each), the secondary has forced seven interceptions, five fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and have 16 pass breakups.
Given that Navy likes to pass more than the typical Navy team, they will be key to Army’s success.
Army Special Teams
On the special teams side of the ball, Army’s kicking has been inconsistent as seemingly always. Landon Salyers is 23-26 on PAT’s and 3-4 on field goals. Quinn Maretzki has been better, 10-10 on PAT’s and 1-1 on field goals.
They have been insane on the other side of special teams, though. They lead the nation in blocked kicks, blocking seven kicks (3 punts, 2 field goals, 2 PAT’s).
This is my favorite game of all time. The game means so much to my family and I. The week leading up to it, I am nervous 24/7, waiting for the chance to see my team sing second.
This year’s game will be a lot of fun given the weird circumstances of it being at Michie Stadium and with only the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen in attendance.
I think Army gets it done just because of how stagnant Navy’s offense has been. They haven’t gotten into the end zone in their last seven quarters.
Army’s offense gets it done on the backs of Tyrell Robinson and their fullbacks. Sandon McCoy and company will keep possession and find pay dirt enough times to sing second before meeting Air Force.
Army 28 – Navy 6