Scouting report: Navy vs. Louisiana Tech

Navy (1-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, La.

Line: Navy by 2 1/2


Radio: 1090 AM, 1430 AM

Series: Navy leads 1-0.

Last meeting: Navy won, 32-14, on Sept. 12, 2009, in Annapolis.

Seeing red: Navy has been downright undependable inside the 20-yard line this season. That trend is particularly worrisome considering Louisiana Tech can strike quickly and often. The Midshipmen's 27 total points in their first two games are their lowest output to start a season since 2000, when they scored 19 points on the way to a 1-10 record. Injuries to starting RT Matt Molloy and QB Ricky Dobbs could be partly to blame, but that doesn't fully explain just three touchdowns in 10 trips to the red zone this season.

No safety valve: The Midshipmen could be without starting S Emmett Merchant, and while there's never a good occasion to lose an experienced senior in the defensive backfield, this timing couldn't be worse. Navy is facing an opponent that sometimes uses five wide receivers, and secondary play will be at a premium. If Merchant, who left Saturday's 13-7 win over Georgia Southern with a concussion, is unable to play, Kwesi Mitchell, normally a starting cornerback, will move to safety, and De'Von Richardson or David Wright would start at cornerback.

Defensive posture: While the offense has been stagnant to start the season, Navy's defense is ranked first in the country against the pass (23.5 yards per game) and fifth overall (190.5 yards per game). The Midshipmen have limited consecutive opponents to fewer than 50 passing yards for the first time since 1979. Louisiana Tech, which uses a spread offense under first-year coach Sonny Dykes, has thrown an average of 36 times over its first two games and figures to be Navy's most demanding test so far.

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