FINALLY! Actual football. Here is a full fledge preview for each team.
(8-4) Qualcomm Stadium 12/20 6PM PT TV:(8-4)
Both teams here are 8-4 and the big story is that Navy has a new head coach after Paul Johnson who built Navy up for 6 years left for Georgia Tech. The new Navy coach is Ken Niumatalolo who has been the Assistant head coach, the Offense coordinator for the past 6 years , plus a former player at the Academy so the team is in a fairly stable position and should be the same team they have been all year.
People can slam me for being a Ute homer, but this is the conferences best bowl, and the reasons are that Navy has the best record of 8-4 which is the best of any other opponent and the fact this is the first bowl of the season so many people will be watching this game.
Navy has been somewhat of a Jekyl & Hyde team because they beat Notre Dame for the first time in 45 years, they lose to Delaware a FCS team and then need 74 points to defeat a one win North Texas team and scored 62. As everyone knows Navy runs the triple option and has the nations number one rush offense by averaging 351 per game and that is a cool 60 yards better then number two ranked Air Force. The good thing for the Utes that they play Air Force every year and will not be caught off guard with Navy’s triple option. However the Utes need to be aware of the play action pass that has resulted in big plays for Navy this year.
The Utes defense which was suppose to struggle this year, which it did early on, came on after their 1-3 start and ended up being the top defenses in the conference and one of the best in the country. The Utes are only allowing 15 points per game and 130 rushing yards per game and only allowed 1 player to rush over 100 yards all season. That will most likely change since Navy is the number one rushing team in the nation, so the Utes will need to play their assignments and not allow for a big run for Navy.
The Navy defense is suspect at best because they gave up 62 points to North Texas, 43 to Duke, 59 in a loss to Delaware, so in other words Navy can be scored upon. With Brian Johnson finally being at 100% from his separated throwing shoulder he should now be able to utilize the down field throw and have more zip on his passes. Reading around the papers in Salt Lake it looks as though Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig will for the first time have the full play book open. So look for the traditional end arounds, reverses, option run, and now the down field pass. Navy also needs to prepare for when true Freshman Corbin Louks gets into the game with about 5-8 snaps.
Navy is disciplined and plays their assignments well, but when the played teams with athletics QB’s the games were not on Navy’s side. The Duke and Delaware games featured an athletic QB and some form of a spread offense attack so Navy will have seen this look albeit their lack of success. For Navy to win they will need to create a short field by getting turnovers and that will be how Navy will be able to win.
As for the outcome look for a lot of yards to be put up in this game and a score that will combine to be in the 50’s, but look for Utah to win by at least 14 points, and a good showing to the national offense. Utah will increase their bowl winning streak to 7 straight after this game.
Here is CBS Sportslines preview of the Poinsettia Bowl