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Houston Cougars at Navy Midshipmen Game Preview

Time for a bounce back game, even against a unique opponent.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, October 24th
Start Time: 2:30pm CT
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Line: Houston -14


Houston Players to Watch

QB Clayton Tune: Tune was great against BYU last week, throwing for 319 yards in a fast paced game. If Navy is effective running the football this weekend, he might have to prove he can do the same thing at a slower pace. With the throws he made last week, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

NT Chidozie Nwankwo/Olivier Charles Pierre: Maybe this should be the entire defensive line, but these two will be keys for the Houston defense. With Navy’s triple option, plugging up the middle and playing with sound gap discipline will be essential to slowing down the Midshipmen rushing attack.

WR Marquez Stevenson: After an explosive first game (118 yards, two total touchdowns), Stevenson recorded just one catch for 19 yards. It might have been because BYU was trying to take him away from being a factor, but this should be a great time for a bounce back game.

Navy Players to Watch

NCAA Football: Navy at East Carolina
Smith has taken off the last two weeks, giving the Midshipmen another option at fullback.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

FB Nelson Smith: Smith’s been on fire the last two games, rushing for 277 yards and four touchdowns over the past two games. When Jamale Carothers needs a break, Smith has proven that he can take over and thrive in the Midshipmen rushing attack.

FB Jamale Carothers: Outside of Smith and Carothers, the Navy rushers have struggled. The Midshipmen as a team have rushed for 952 yards, and 653 of them have come from the two fullbacks. At least they know they can rely on two of their guys to get the job done on the ground, and Carothers hasn’t had a breakout game quite yet.

LB Diego Fagot: A tackling machine, Fagot makes plays all over the field. No surprise, he’s leading the team in tackles (40), tackles for loss (6.5), and sacks (2.0)

Houston Keys to the Game

Stop the run: Sorry, I had to do it. Even if Navy’s rushing attack isn’t what it used to be, stopping the run is the quickest way to for them to throw against a secondary eager to force some turnovers.

Discipline: Penalties and inexcusable mistakes cannot happen anymore. The Cougars might be favored int this game, but that could quickly change with penalties and turnovers.

Embrace the slow pace: Navy might not be Army in terms of chewing up clock, but an efficient Midshipmen rushing attack can eat up clock. Houston wants to go fast, but needs to be weary of pushing too hard to score quickly, because that’s when the turnovers start occurring.

Navy Keys to the Game

Slow it down: Navy’s offense this year can’t keep up in a shootout, so they’ll have to slow things down. Let Houston beat themselves by pressing for a faster pace and let the mistakes pile up.

Find a quarterback: The ongoing battle continues to be the biggest thing slowing Navy down, and it’s at a position that’s vital to their success. Dalen Morris continues to be inconsistent, and now has competition in Tyger Goslin.

Force the run: Houston wants to move the ball through the air, and while it might seem like a ridiculous thought to try and completely shut that part of their offense down, Navy needs to try and force Houston to run the ball if possible. There’s too much talent out wide for the Cougars to try and fight that battle and come out unscathed.

Prediction

Houston’s frustrated after the BYU loss, which is understandable. How they respond will tell us a lot about the mentality of this team. The mental mistakes need to stop regardless of who they play. The things they did last week are red flags that must be addressed, and putting a beatdown on Navy would be good therapy. HOUSTON 42 NAVY 20