Five predictions entering Navy’s visit to South Carolina on Saturday …
1. Navy will have a 10-play drive. The Midshipmen have had only one 10-play drive in their first two games, but they’ll find it more difficult to rip off long runs against the Gamecocks. Instead, Navy should be able to have a couple extended drives while confounding (at least at times) the ultra-athletic South Carolina defense.
2. Marcus Lattimore will run for at least 140 yards. After days of 112 and 176 yards to open the season, the talented South Carolina tailback will land somewhere in the middle. He’s exceptional, and he’ll get some work done against a Navy defense that is a bit thin at linebacker.
3. Navy will rely heavily on safety Tra’ves Bush. One of the best things about Navy’s defensive scheme is if it happens to get thin at linebacker (as is the case with both Jarred Shannon and Mason Graham unlikely to play), there’s enough depth and versatility elsewhere to allow the Mids to simply roll with a nickel package most of the time. That means Bush, a South Carolina native and Navy’s fifth defensive back, will probably have the chance to add to his strong start. He might not deliver a pick-six like last week, but he’ll be among the Mids’ top four tacklers against the Gamecocks.
4. Navy will allow a point in the first quarter for the first time this season. The Mids have a 26-0 scoring edge in the first quarter through two games. Don’t bank on Steve Spurrier‘s team to remain silent for a full 15 minutes in its home opener.
5. South Carolina will win, but not without a few headaches. There will be no rerun of 1984, when the No. 2 Gamecocks lost to Navy to derail what was to that point a special season. Still, there will be some frustrating moments that evoke the possibility of the Chicken Curse making an appearance. Alas, South Carolina should still win by double digits and improve to 3-0.
Season record: 6-for-10
—- Patrick Stevens