College Football Preview: East Carolina at Navy
ANNAPOLIS, Md. ó Two teams in desperate need of a victory will meet Saturday afternoon when Navy hosts East Carolina.
The Midshipmen and the Pirates are both 2-4 and no doubt view the other as an opportunity to get healthy.
“We’re beyond backs to the wall, we’re a little in the wall right now,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “So it’s a big game for both of us,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
Navy is mired in a four-game losing streak for the first time since dropping 10 in 2002. The Midshipmen’s run of eight straight winning seasons is in jeopardy.
Fullback and co-captain Alexander Teich said this group of players does not want to be part of the team that fails to uphold that tradition of success. The Midshipmen would need to win five of their six remaining regular season games in order to finish with a winning mark.
“We can’t deny that the pressure is there. There’s that elephant in the room,” Teich said. “You don’t want to think about it too much and start putting pressure on yourself. Because if you start feeling pressure, you’re not going to go out and perform the way you should.”
East Carolina is seeking to extend its own postseason streak, having earned bowl berths in five successive seasons. The Pirates finish the season with five consecutive Conference USA games after playing the Midshipmen on Saturday.
Subpar defense and turnovers have been the root of East Carolina’s problems this season. The Pirates rank 120th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in turnover margin (minus two) and are 105th in scoring defense (32.1 points per game allowed).
“It’s been a battle. We have a young team, especially along the offensive and defensive lines,” said McNeill, adding that injuries have also hampered the Pirates.
An inability to score touchdowns in the red zone, poor third down defense and place-kicking problems have hurt Navy.