Navy Football vs UNT Preview
After losing two straight games Navy is desperate to get back in the win column against North Texas on Saturday. This could end up being one of the biggest games of the season for the Midshipmen. They’re playing at home and matchup pretty favorably with the Mean Green. If they want to make it to a bowl game this season, Saturday’s matchup feels like a must win.
Quick Stats to Know
Navy enters this matchup as -6 point favorite and have a 63.1% chance to win according to ESPN.
UNT comes in on a two game win streak after starting the year 0-2
Navy ranks 5th in the FBS in rushing yards per game at 227.5
UNT ranks last in the AAC in points allowed per game at 43 and is allowing a very poor 6.1 yards per carry
UNT Scouting Report
Like Navy, North Texas has a new head coach this season. Eric Morris comes to Denton, TX after serving as the head coach at Incarnate Word (FCS) prior to spending the 2022 season as the OC/QB coach at Washington State. Morris helped to build up the middling FCS Cardinals program into a 10-3 team by his final season.
The former Texas Tech wide receiver brings an innovative spread offensive system. UNT will use a lot of spread out formations, utilizing the entire width of the field. The strength of this offense is the skill positions. They like to get their WRs and RBs the ball in space and allow them to make plays. You’ll see this team run a lot of RPOs and downfield shots to really stress the defense. They’ve struggle some with consistency on the offensive line and that’s something they’ll need to hone in against this Navy defense.
In the run game their bread and butter is the power run play. Utilizing this concept out of shotgun formations, they’ll pull an offensive lineman across the formation in the direction of the run to force the defense to adjust after the ball is snapped.
This is a widely utilized play across college and the NFL. It was the same concept that Alabama built their run game on in their 2010s dynasty. It puts a lot of stress on defenses and can be very effective when executed well.
Defensively this is a UNT team that has been struggling so far this season. They rank dead last in the American Athletic Conference in terms of points allowed per game at 43. They also allow 6.1 rushing yards per attempt. This ranks fifth last in the FBS. For reference James Madison ranks 1st in the FBS with 1.2 rushing yards allowed per attempt. Anything between 3.5-4 is average.
For a Navy team that runs the ball as well as anyone in the country, this is a really bad matchup for UNT. North Texas has struggled with tackling this year, particularly in the second level. They also have struggled generating push on the defensive front to help shut down the run.
What Navy Needs to do to Win on Saturday
Navy matches up very well on offense vs this UNT defense. To be fair, most of the country does. The real challenge for the Midshipmen will be on the defensive side of the ball. Like their matchup with USF last week, they’re going to face a modern-style spread offense. North Texas will scheme up some big plays. The key for Navy is going to be three things that they are traditionally good at- tackling well, playing disciplined, and running the ball.
Last week Navy missed too many tackles in open space. Head Coach Brian Newberry talked about this at his Monday press conference. North Texas will find ways to make plays, particularly in the passing game. The better of a job that Navy can do rallying to the ball and tackling, the more big plays they force North Texas to string together in order to score.
Additionally, Navy has been a historically disciplined team. Last week was uncharacteristic as they committed eight penalties for 70 yards. That’s a killer for any team and something Navy needs to clean up to compete both in this game and moving forward on the year.
Lastly, if you’re Brian Newberry this week, don’t overthink it- run the ball. You dream of matchups like this as a service academy. UNT can’t stop below average running games, they stand little chance against Navy’s triple option. I know that this season Navy wants to add in some wrinkles on offense and start to pass the ball more, but this isn’t the week to work on it. Keep it simple, take your six yards per carry, and have your way all day on offense.
This is a huge game for the Midshipmen if they want to have a good first year under Brian Newberry. They need to win the games that they can win and this is one of those games.