Navy vs. Air Force: Game Preview, Kick Time, Livestream, TV and Radio Schedule
The Air Force Falcons and Navy Midshipmen begin the fight for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
Air Force looks to reclaim its prized rivalry trophy.
WEEK 6: Navy Midshipmen (2-2, 1-1 AAC) vs. Air Force Falcons (1-3, 0-2 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, October 6 — 1:30 PM MT/12:30 PM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, Colorado (46,692)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: Get a one-week trial of FuboTV.
RADIO: The Air Force broadcast can be found in and around Colorado Springs on KVOR 740 AM. It can also be found in Denver on 104.3 FM and on satellite radio: Sirius channel 138 and XM channel 381.
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the series 29-21. In the last meeting on October 7, 2017, the Midshipmen defeated the Falcons, 48-45, in Annapolis.
STAT PROFILES: link
Questions abound as Air Force heads into October and meets old rival Navy, who spoiled the Falcons’ chance at defending the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with one of last year’s wildest Mountain West games. The Middies remain as tough an out as ever, eking out victories against Memphis and Lehigh before a one-point loss to Southern Methodist two weeks ago.
Led by veteran head coach Ken Niumatololo and junior quarterback Malcolm Perry, Navy figures to be a favorite heading into kickoff, but they’ve won at Falcon Stadium just once this decade. In other words, anything can happen in a game like this.
Here’s how Air Force can turn their season around with a win against Navy.
Three Keys to an Air Force Win
Slow Malcolm Perry as much as possible.
It’s no secret that the Navy quarterback is what makes this offense go, and he’s certainly done so in 2018, leading the Midshipmen with seven yards per carry while racking up nearly three times more rushing attempts than anyone else. However, he hasn’t been quite as sharp when dropping back to pass, as he is just 5-of-16 (albeit at 21.2 yards per completion) with a sack rate of 27.2%. No, that isn’t a typo.
For a Falcons defense that’s struggled mightily to stop big plays and sports a sack rate of only 3%, this seems like a boom-or-bust situation with little in-between. Zane Lewis did have a 99-yard pick-six last weekend, but they also allowed five passes of 20-plus yards. Navy only threw just once in their loss to SMU, too, so there’s also a decent chance this never comes into play at all. Regardless, Air Force can’t afford to get fooled.
Hope a quarterback seizes the job.
Air Force turned to its third quarterback of the year on Saturday and, well, Donnell Hammond III wasn’t much better or worse than Arion Worthman or Isaiah Sanders had been before him. He did manage not to take any sacks and had three plays of 15-plus yards among his six completions, but the 40% completion rate wasn’t enough for the comeback effort.
Unsurprisingly, Navy is preparing for all three guys to have a role, but someone needs to step up and be consistent.
Get Ronald Cleveland the ball.
Air Force has done a poor job of creating explosive plays on the ground for a few years now, so it’s worth pointing out when someone breaks that trend. Cleveland, the senior receiver, had eight carries for 48 yards in last week’s loss to Nevada and, more importantly, is the only Falcon to crack four Highlight Yards per Opportunity. If you’re unfamiliar with that metric, Bill Connelly describes Highlight Yards as those credited to a runner after the first five yards, once the offensive line has “done its job”; put another way, Cleveland has twice as many runs of ten yards or more (eight) than any other Air Force player.
The offense isn’t likely to go to this well too often, but picking the right spots to put the ball in Cleveland’s hands could make or break the Falcons’ chances.