Navy Midshipmen (2-3) vs Charlotte 49ers (1-4)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 14, 2:00 PM EST
TV: ESPN+ (Play-By-Play: Richard Cross/Analyst: Taylor McHargue/Sideline: Morgan Uber)
Radio: Learfield/Charlotte Sport Network (Play-By-Play: Matt Swierad/Analyst: Al Wallace/ Sideline: Bobby Rosinski)
Location: Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Spread: Navy -3, O/U 43.5
Series Record: First Meeting
Setting The Stage
Charlotte will host the Navy Midshipmen on the 49ers Homecoming Weekend, marking the first AAC conference game at Jerry Richardson Stadium in program history. Navy comes into this game following a home win against North Texas, while the Niners used their open week to recover and shore up mistakes on both sides of the ball. Charlotte will be looking to earn their first win at home of the 2023 season.
After losing to SMU in Dallas, Charlotte has played five night games in a row, three of them on the road.
The coaching staff took this time to run complete evaluations on each game, with defensive coordinator Ryan Osborn stating the following:
“We started with efficiency reports, based on down and distances and field zone. We wanted to figure out our deficiencies in these areas, looking critically at what we’ve done and how we can get better. Before last week’s game, we led the AAC in missed tackles with 67. If we eliminated half of those missed tackles in the Florida or SMU game, the results would have been much different”.
The message has been the same for Charlotte’s defense- “Do your job.”
The Niners have played their best when players are able to play freely, and not overthink their responsibilities on either side of the ball.
Charlotte’s two-quarterback system seems to be here to stay. The coaching staff like both Jalon Jones and Trexler Ivey, choosing to interchange them based on the defensive looks they get from the opposing team. However, one thing needs to change. Both Jalon and Trexler have taken critical sacks that put Charlotte in difficult down-and-distance situations.
Coach Poggi does not put all the blame on the quarterbacks, stating “We looked at TFL’s and sacks by position. The running back room has to do a lot better job in protection. Running backs have been responsible for ⅓ of the sacks, so we focused on eliminating that”.
The Navy Midshipmen commit minimal mistakes and penalties. Navy, Air Force, and Penn State are the only three teams in the country that have not thrown an interception this year. Navy pride themselves on running the ball, and executing the triple option.
Charlotte DC Ryan Osborn on Navy’s Triple Option:
“We don’t use a ball. The whole idea of triple option is three elements…dive, quarterback and pitch. I’m asking these guys to do a job, nothing more and nothing less. If you have the dive, take the dive. If you have the quarterback, take the quarterback. If you have the pitch, take the pitch. Good defenses are built on four things. Pursuit, tackling, block destruction and takeaways.”
The Mids rank fourth nationally in rushing, averaging 248.2 yards per game. Navy’s game plan will not change, Charlotte must find a way to fill the right gaps and tackle efficiently on early downs.
Charlotte will be missing their star freshman running back Durell Robinson for the second time in three games, with an unspecified injury-related issue. Defensive end Julius Welschof will also miss Saturday’s game vs the Midshipmen.
The Navy Midshipmen enter this gameafter bouncing back to beat North Texas 27-24 at home. The Mids rushed for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Navy attempted only 10 passes, with 2 of them coming from sophomore running back Blake Horvath. For years, Navy has had the same play style. This team hangs its hat on running the ball, being physical, and winning up front. Sophomore fullback Alex Tecza is fifth in the country in rushing yards per carry (7.64)
Navy’s defense is no different. The Midshipmen teach discipline in all three phases.
Charlotte RB Joachim Bangda on Navy’s defense:
“They have a very unique defense. They like to disrupt the line of scrimmage a lot and bring pressure from the field and boundary. We’ll be looking to exploit them downhill, but they are very disciplined. Our physicality has to outmatch their physicality.”
Navy ranks third in the country in fumbles recovered with 7, fifth in turnover margin and fourth in turnovers lost with 3. The Mids explode to the ball and send a wide array of blitz packages. Charlotte’s wide receivers have not shown the ability to consistently get open downfield, making this a favorable matchup for Navy.
The Niners will look to deploy their two-quarterback system at different intervals in the game, and the Mids must be prepared to take away the strengths of both quarterbacks. Charlotte has yet to play a complete game, but the Niners will be playing with an added sense of motivation for their first AAC home game in program history.
Both teams will look to establish the run game early, in order to set up play action passing opportunities. Although this game will mark the first AAC game in Jerry Richardson Stadium, The Navy Midshipmen should control the game by limiting turnovers.
Final Score: Navy 27, Charlotte 20