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Friday, December 6, 2019

Football

Houston D-line ready for ‘all-pads’ game against Navy triple-option attack


Houston's defensive line, shown facing off against Memphis on Nov. 16, held Tulsa to negative rushing yards in its Week 13 win over the Golden Hurricane and must again step up against No. 24 Navy's triple-option offense. | Katrina Martinez/The Cougar

Houston’s defensive line, shown facing off against Memphis on Nov. 16, held Tulsa to negative rushing yards in its Week 13 win over the Golden Hurricane and must again step up against No. 24 Navy’s triple-option offense. | Katrina Martinez/The Cougar

Defending an old-school attack takes old-school tactics.

Houston’s defense has the tough task of limiting a vaunted Navy triple-option on Saturday that has boosted the Midshipmen to No. 24 in the AP Poll.

That won’t be easy. 

 “Upfront, those guys are real tough,” said senior defensive lineman Aymiel Fleming of the Midshipmen. “Running backs run hard, quarterbacks run hard. They are a good team.”

The 8-2 (6-1 American Athletic Conference) Midshipmen average 37.6 points per game, good for 13th in the FBS. Their option-offense, led by senior quarterback Malcolm Perry, goes through a physical offensive line that makes a point of blocking in open space and punching defenders in the mouth.

“It’s definitely one of those all-pads games,” Fleming said. “Every one of your pads is going to be hit in this game.”

In a 35-28 win over SMU last week, Navy rushed 71 times for 381 yards and three touchdowns. 

If they find a weakness in their opponent’s defensive line, they will exploit it. 

The Cougars — who allowed -1 rushing yards in a 24-14 win over Tulsa on Saturday — know that all too well. 

“Navy loves it when you don’t do your job,” said junior defensive lineman Payton Turner. “It’s really just a ‘you got to do your job’ type deal. It’s just different because you have new people at new spots, so those reps in practice are going to be big-time this week.”

Navy is the favored team in their bout with Houston on Saturday at TDECU Stadium.

If the Cougars want to upset in their final game of a dismal season (4-7, 2-5 AAC) they know what they need to do: step-up, match their physicality and tape-up. 

 “You’re going to have every pad, every glove, everything taped up,” Turner said. “It’s going to be a rough game.”

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