Because we can’t all break down game film like Mike, here are some general storylines I’ll be on the lookout for when Navy plays Western Kentucky on Saturday night.
Jared Marks: At 6-foot-5 and coming in a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich shy of 300 pounds, Marks might be the most physically imposing Navy nose guard since Nate Frazier. I was all set to see what he could do in attempting to clog two gaps against the Blue Hens, but a last-minute suspension forced sophomore Alex Doolittle into Marks’ spot. While Doolittle “did some good things” – coach Green speak for not screwing up too badly – he didn’t exactly help Navy stonewall Andrew Pierce and the Blue Hen running game, which attacked Navy right up the middle. I anticipate Western Kentucky to try to do something similar with stud running back Bobby Rainey, whose 5-foot-8 size makes him the ideal player to exploit misdirection back into the middle of the defense. Navy linebackers Matt Warrick and Matt Brewer are excellent in space, but both showed some vulnerability last week with over-aggresivness against the inside handoff and delay. They’ll get a feel for snuffing plays out with experience, but would really benefit from having Marks step up in his first start of the year.
Andrew Jackson: The Western Kentucky linebacker went on record this week of saying it was “his job” to “take out the quarterback.” Kriss Proctor, your thoughts? Call me old fashioned, but I’m always intrigued at watching players try to live up to their pregame talk, especially when it comes to defending Navy’s offense. Maybe it comes from watching all those Notre Dame promises against the option fall flat the last few years, but I’m not going to lie and tell you I don’t savor watching the sometimes frustrating realization that shutting down the option is easier said than done. Still, every once in a while a Scott McKillop will come around a and completely change a game to the point where the offense is stonewalled. Not saying Jackson is anywhere near that kind of player, but I’ll be watching just the same.
The Coin Toss: I actually predicted that coach Niumat would take the ball first against Delaware (but Mike, being a bum, didn’t publish my ‘Three Things’ post) in order to establish some early season offensive momentum, and I have a hunch he may buck tradition and do it again this week if he wins the toss. Western Kentucky, after all, has lost 15 consecutive games at home. No one is more aware of that than the WKU players, who after years of losing are trying to escape the proverbial loser’s mentality. Easier said than done (eh, just ask my Aggies) so an early Navy score could go a long way to deflating any pregame momentum the Hilltoppers build up.