By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun
7:05 PM EST, December 9, 2011
Army (3-8) @ Navy (4-7)
Site: FedEx Field, Landover, 2:30 p.m.
Radio: 1090 AM 1430 AM
Series Record: Navy leads 55-49-7
Last Meeting: Navy won 31-17 in Philadelphia on Dec. 11, 2010
Line: Navy by 7
Navy offense vs. Army defense: The Midshipmen have been inconsistent this season in running the triple option, but still finished the season ranked fourth in the country in rushing (313.7 yards per game). Quarterback Kriss Proctor's left elbow should finally be close to 100 percent after having three weeks off. Proctor has rushed for more than 100 yards four times this season, including 134 and three TDs against Air Force. Fullback Alexander Teich has rushed for more than 100 twice, but not since going for 149 yards against Air Force. Army is 13th in the country in pass defense (178.1 yards per game) Senior rover Steven Erzinger leads the Black Knights with 92 tackles, including 21 against Northern Illinois.
Army offense vs. Navy defense: The Black Knights lead the nation in rushing this season (350.9) and are last in passing (48 yards a game), so their gameplan against the Midshipmen is pretty obvious. Sophomore Raymond Maples is 16 yards shy of 1,000 and his 7.4 yards per carry average is the best by an Army tailback since 1954. Only two Army tailbacks, including the legendary Glenn Davis, have averaged more yards per carry. Like Proctor, senior quarterback Trent Steelman has battled injuries this season, missing three straight games before returning for a 42-14 loss at Temple three weeks ago. The Navy defense improved over the second half of the season, as some of the team's younger players took over and gained experience. Army had five turnovers in its loss to Air Force and Navy needs to be just as opportunistic. Jabaree Tuani needs three tackles for losses to break Navy's all-time record.
Special teams: Navy senior placekicker Jon Teague has either missed a kick or had one blocked in nine games, and freshman Pablo Beltran ranks 83rd in net punting (35.4 yards). The Midshipmen are also 100th on kickoff returns (19.7 yards) and 116th on kickoff return defense (25.4 yards). Senior Alex Carlton has missed 16 of his 52 career field goals and is 30 of 35 on extra points this season.
Coaches: Ken Niumatalolo is 3-0 against Army since taking over for Paul Johnson, including 2-0 against Rich Ellerson, who was an assistant at Hawaii when the Navy coach played there. Niumatalolo will be trying to lead the Midshipmen to their 10th straight win over the Black Knights. A victory Saturday for Navy would take some of the bad taste away from Niumatalolo's first losing season as a head coach and second straight year not taking home the Commander In Chief's Trophy.
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