No. 24 Navy matchup ‘pretty big challenge’ for Houston
Despite showing defensive improvement, don’t expect another similar performance out of UH on Saturday.
A triple-option team, Navy boasts the FBS’ top-ranked rush offense, averaging 352.2 yards per game. Senior quarterback Malcolm Perry leads The American and is fifth nationally in rush yards with 1,354.
“They’re really good. They’re as good as a team that we’ve faced all year,” said coach Dana Holgorsen of the Midshipmen. “Obviously the triple-option offense stuff is hard. You can’t prepare against that in six days. It’s hard.”
Navy’s 8-2 record doesn’t come just through the ground game. Their defense may be the toughest that the Cougars will face all year.
Under first-year defensive coordinator Brian Newberry, the Midshipmen possess the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense (22.5 points per game). They are first in The American and 24th nationally in yards per game, giving 323.9 yards per (216.6 passing, 107.3 rushing).
Navy is ranked for a reason.
For the Cougars, it’s tough to find favorable matchups. Their suddenly stout defensive line could limit the triple-option, but that’s a task nobody – not even Notre Dame – has been able to accomplish in 2019. Houston allows 154.7 rushing yards per game, 66th in the nation.
Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune will lead the Cougars. Now fully healthy from a hamstring injury. The Carrollton native has passed for 1,051 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions on a 56.8% clip in 2019.
At TDECU Stadium, they are 5-4 against ranked opponents. With Saturday playing as Senior Night, there could be sentimentality hanging in the Holman Street air.
Nonetheless, as Holgorsen said on Monday, “It’s going to be a pretty big challenge.”