The Washington Times - October 8, 2011, 08:52AM

There’s plenty at stake for Navy this afternoon when it faces Southern Mississippi. Fullback Alexander Teich will be out as a disciplinary measure, and the Midshipmen will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2002.

The Golden Eagles (4-1) aren’t exactly the sort of opponent that will make breaking out of a funk easy.

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Here’s five things to look for heading into this afternoon’s game in Annapolis.

1. Kriss Proctor will be Navy’s leading rusher. Sort of a no-brainer, right? With Teich sidelined, Proctor is the one prong of the triple option that is probably the most reliable. Consider: Proctor rushed for 134 yards in last week’s loss to Air Force. Delvin Diggs and Mike Patrick, Navy’s backup fullbacks, have 118 rushing yards in their careers.

2. Navy’s slotbacks will get more work. This unit got 15 carries in the opener against Delaware, 18 against Western Kentucky, 14 at South Carolina and then just two last week. Expect a rushing attempt total somewhere in the teens, and don’t be remotely surprised if the group is utilized more than any other point this season.

3. Southern Mississippi defensive ends Jamie Collins and Cordarro Law will combined for at least four tackles for loss. The pair enters with 17.5 TFLs in five games, with Collins rolling up nine and Law contributing 8.5 The revamped Golden Eagle defense has thrived under new coordinator Dan Disch’s 4-2-5 scheme (which replaced current Maryland defensive coordinator Todd Bradford’s 4-3). That system might not work great against the triple-option, but Disch (and his defensive ends) clearly know what they’re doing.

4. There will be a defensive or special teams touchdown. No good reason for this prediction, just a hunch. Navy has one defensive touchdown this season (Tra’ves Bush’s interception return for a score at Western Kentucky) while Southern Mississippi has three.

5. Southern Mississippi will win by less than a possession. Time for another close game involving Navy. Imagine that. Coach Ken Niumatalolo is fully aware of the challenges presented by the Golden Eagles, who won at Virginia two weeks ago. Teich’s absence will hurt, but Navy will remain competitive throughout the afternoon. As is so often the case with the Mids, it would be no surprise if either team walked away with a victory. An easy one? Don’t count on that.

Patrick Stevens