Three Keys to Victory
3. Assignment Football on Defense
You'll hear it ad nauseum tomorrow night from the announcers, but it's true: other than the defensive tackles, who need to attack, the defense needs to play with discipline and try to contain instead of going for the huge play. Navy will get their yards if we take this approach, but they won't get the big gains, and eventually they'll make mistakes or we'll get interior penetration and their drives will stall. It's also very important that we tackle very well.
2. Passing Game Playing Within Itself
Navy knows its defense can't hang athletically with Carolina. Therefore, it will play in various forms of prevent defense most of the evening, hoping that Carolina might get greedy enough to make a mistake and trying to avoid giving up big plays in the meantime. I say we take what they give us in the passing game, not only because that's the most effective way to move the ball against what they're going to do, but also because this approach should give Stephen Garcia a chance to get in a rhythm and build confidence. I would like to see Garcia test his arm once or twice, but that's less important than seeing him throw for a high percentage and manage the game. I should also say that while I'd like to see Marcus Lattimore hit the century mark, I'd also like to see us give him a break in the second half if we're up. We need his legs for the bigger games that are upcoming.
Most great upsets are built on turnovers. That adage holds particularly true in a game like this, where it's unlikely that anything but mistakes will slow down Carolina's offense. Therefore, it's imperative that Carolina not kill any of its drives with silly turnovers.
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What It Means
It will probably calm more than a few fans' nerves to see us take care of business in this game, considering the superstitions. Even without that angle, considering Carolina's somewhat underwhelming march to 2-0, it would be nice to see us play a complete, dominant game tomorrow. Navy shouldn't be too much of a challenge, but the Mids are a good team. Beating them convincingly is an accomplishment, one that would give us all a bit more confidence going into the meat of SEC play.
Navy will get its yards in this game, but I think we can slow them down enough to keep them from racking up lots of points. Our offense, though, will have its best game of the season and score around 50. Look for Connor Shaw and company to get some reps late, while the Mids score a couple of late TDs against our backups to make the final score reflect worse on our defense than it should. I'm calling for a 49-27 Carolina victory.