Start Time: 7:00 PM EST; November 7th, 2015
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Radio: Memphis - AM 600; Annapolis - AM 1430; 99.9 FM
Series Record: First Ever Meeting
Betting Line: Tigers -7.5 (63.5 O/U)
On This Date: The Tigers are an ugly 2-11 in games played on November 7th and have not won on this date since 1947.
Three Keys to Memphis Victory:
Split the difference in the rushing stats
Of course rushing the ball would be a point of emphasis for this game. Navy, in case you didn't know, runs a triple option offense and runs it darn near to perfection. The Midshipmen, led by senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds, will run the ball all day long and chew up plenty of clock.
The rushing attack mainly consists of Reynolds and his two backs, Chris Swain and Quentin Ezell. The trio account for nearly 225 yards a game as well as 3 scores per game. Reynolds, currently tied with Monte Ball, could set the career rushing touchdown record at 78 (Reynolds currently has 77 career rushing TD's). In short, why pass when you can control the clock and put up points with this type talent in the backfield?
The Tigers meanwhile are one of the nations better teams when it comes to defending the run. If this Navy team were winning by a traditional rushing attack then the Tigers would be expect to coast. That said, the Tigers will have to play strict assignment football in hopes of slowing the deceptive triple option of Navy. Stopping the Midshipmen's running attack will not be possible but if the Tigers can slow the ground attack they should come away with a win.
The Tigers seem undisciplined at times when it comes to penalties and quite honestly can be their own enemy. This season it has been tough enough for the Tiger defense to force stops and many times the Tigers have found themselves negating their defensive stops by a committing an untimely penalty. The penalty bug has not only bitten the Tigers defense but at times the offense as well. As a whole, the Tigers are flagged nearly 9 times for roughly 88 yards per game.
Navy on the other hand is very disciplined. Where as the Tigers rank near last in penalties per game the Midshipmen are one of the best in the country in limiting penalties. Navy averages just shy of 4 penalties a game and an average total of 36 yards.
Get out to an early lead/force the tempo
The Memphis offense has made a habit recently of starting games slow. In fact the Tigers have, on multiple occasions, spotted opponents a two score lead. Against a team like Navy this trend can not continue. The ground and pound offense of Navy will, to steal a basketball term, take the air out of the ball on the face paced Memphis offense. For a team that thrives off of offense and quick scoring drives, Memphis will need to not give early scores.
If the Tigers are able to impose their will early then the complexion of the game will change completely. Navy, a team that passes on average 7 times per game, will be forced to open their game plan. While Memphis could still struggle defending the pass (the Tigers are one of the worst in the nation in defending the pass) the last thing Navy needs to do is find itself in a offensive track meet against Memphis.