Memphis takes on Navy in key early-season match-up
Tigers head to Annapolis to tackle Midshipmen
With an easy opening season win over a weak nonconference opponent Mercer under their belts, the Memphis Tigers will be turning their attention to a conference foe who has given them trouble in the past.
The Tigers travel to Annapolis this week to take on the Navy Midshipmen.
Memphis won last year’s contest 3027 at home but both teams have their share of new faces.
“I was really pleased with out football team for our season opener. I thought it was a great experience,” said Tigers coach Mike Norvell. “Our football team showed up. To see our guys carry that preparation over you want to get out to a fast start. Other than the opening kickoff where we ended up getting pinned down inside the five yard line, our guys came out and responded. It was an impressive drive.”
Norvell had praise for the defense as well.
“And on the flip side to see our defense and the way they attacked in that half to hold Mercer to 37 yards of offense and only one first down — the energy of how our guys played is what we hope to see.
I’m glad they were able to execute that,” he said. “In the second half we were able to play some young guys many new faces got their first experience out there on the field at the Liberty Bowl.”
Norvell isn’t expecting an easy trip.
“We have to go on the road to play in Annapolis to play a Navy football team that has been some incredible battles over the last few years between these two programs,” said the coach. “They are coming off a difficult loss.
They had to travel halfway across the world. They got off to a very uncharcteristic start. They got behind early against a really impressive Hawaii group, but then just like you would expect they made it a 10 point game late in the matchup but just weren’t able to finish it off.”
We know we are going to get their best game. We know its going to be a 60 minute fight. And just like it has been every time Memphis and Navy have played each other, so we have to play our best game on the road if we are to be successful.
“Navy has had probably one of the most consistently successful programs in the country over the last ten to 15 years. The previous matchups have not gone well for us because we were physically just beat. regardless of matchups, when it came down to one on one we were not very productive in that in prior years.
Last year it was a difficult game. But I thought our defense played at a very high level. We were able to create five takeaways. That was a big spark in the game. But even with that it was a one score game. Its going to be the same type of ball game. We know its going to be back and forth.
We know we have to play extremely well. We have to capitalize on every opportunity thatwe get This team is very explosive. Their quarterback Malcolm Davis is as good of an athlete as you will see play in our conference.
He can change the game in any snap. The fact that they moved him primarily to quarterback is a tremendous move for their offense, but also they showcase their versatility with being able to move their quarterback from last year all around. He can play at receiver. He had three rushing touchdowns last week. Its going to be a heck of a chess match.
But I think having that experience last year our guys know that we can but we have to go out and earn it.”
“I know our kids will be doing their best so we are ready to roll come Saturday afternoon,” Norvell said. “We need to execute their plan and run their plays. I think Hawaii made some great plays and were able to execute. They had some great throws and catches and some wonderful runs. We’re going to have to do much of the same.”
He’s aware the Midshipmen will be prepared.
“I know Navy will have a great plan for us and it will be a great match up,” he said. “They will try to keep Perry contained. If he gets on the edge he is toughto bring down. Hes not the biggest guy on the team but he is tough to tackle.”
Norvell and his coaching crew are aware that Navy is a versatile team and his players will have to be prepared for everything.
“We’re much better. I saw nobody going off in carts.
Last year was a challenge.
But I like where we are,” he added.
Sam Craft is expected to play this week after being evaluated.
“Overall, there are some bumps and bruises but I feel goo about where we are. We are going to have a planthis wee and we are going to have to go out and execute that plan, said Norvell. “We have to play with great fundamentals.
We’ve got to prepare at a high level and it has to show up on Saturday. This is a road trip for us. Our number one focus will be on the game.”
Norvell said the Tigers have a tremendous amoutn of respect for Navy and the Naval Academy.
“There probably isnt a team I respect more as far as their coach and from top to bottom their whole orgnization,” he said. “We know We’re going in their house. But we’re going to prepare.”
“I always tell people that the biggest growth you see on a football team is between week one and week two,” said the Tigers coach. “We have to have a great jump in week two if we are to be successful.
We have to continue to build.”
By Mark Randall