The Navy Midshipmen are just a day away from one of their bigger games on the schedule.
On Saturday they will play host to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, their high powered defense and their mistake-ridden quarterback.
But how do the Mids compare to the Scarlet Knights? Will Gary Nova struggle again? Can their defense stop the triple option?
Mitchell Northam: Gary Nova has struggled lately, especially in the Penn State loss, but it still slated to start against Navy. Why is Nova struggling so much and if it continues, will Kyle Flood pull the plug and bench him? How do you see Nova faring against the Mids?
Kevin Recio: Gary Nova struggling is about as normal as the sun rising each day: it's going to happen. He's arguably the most frustrating player in the history of Rutgers football, as he can make you think he's figured it all out and then lay an egg when you need him most. Honestly, I think it's debatable that it was all his fault against Penn State, but there's no doubt he has to play much better for this team to have success. If he continues to struggle, Kyle Flood will definitely consider benching him. He actually did that last season when Nova struggled with turnovers towards the end of the year, going with then-senior Chas Dodd for the remaining three games. Against Navy, I think Gary can recover. They're not imposing defensively against the pass or the run, so that means Nova should be able to bounce back with a decent performance, and if Paul James can rush for big numbers it only helps Nova more.
MN: Paul James was underused in the Penn State game, notching just 14 touches. How involved does he have to be in the offense for this team to succeed? Do you expect his workload to increase vs Navy?
KR: Besides maybe Leonte Carroo, Paul James is the best player on offense. He has ridiculous vision when running the ball, and is can be used in the passing game for great production. If the offense wants to succeed, Ralph Friedgen would be wise to find any way to get James the ball. I definitely expect James workload to increase in an effort to give the defense a rest against the option as well.
MN: The one bright spot for Rutgers against Penn State was the defense, especially the defensive line, and having a good front seven is key to stopping the triple option. How successful do you expect Rutgers to be in stopping the Mids' offense?
KR: Historically, Rutgers has done well against the service academies, including a win over the Mids in 2011 when RU held Navy to 150 yards under their season rushing average. The Scarlet Knights have a defense predicated on speed over size, and I think that helps with neutralizing the triple-option. The secondary has always been coached to support defending the run, so as long they limit big gains on the outside, I think RU can win the battle in the trenches.
KR: Nova has a decent game, but it's the defense that is the difference after a breakthrough performance against Penn State. Rutgers wins, 24-17.
I answered some questions about the Mids for Kevin and On the Banks too. You can check those out here.