For the first time since 2010, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Navy Midshipmen face each other. The 2016 Armed Forces Bowl is one of opposite opponents. And it should be a tremendously fun game to watch. The only two meetings in the series between these two teams resulted in two Navy victories. According to ESPN Pick Center, LA Tech is favored by seven points and the over/under for the game is 68 points. Moreover, ESPN Football Power Index gives the Bulldogs a 52.7 percent chance to win. Now let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both Navy and Lousiana Tech and the overall background of the bowl game.
2016 Armed Forces Bowl Preview: Louisiana Tech vs. Navy
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
When: Dec. 23, 2016, 3:30 p.m. CT
Navy 9-4 (7-1 AAC) Keys to Victory
The Midshipmen are hoping to get back on track after losing two-straight games against the Temple Owls and Army Black Knights. Quarterbacks Will Worth and Tago Smith went down with injury leaving sophomore Zach Abey with the keys to the offense. Abey threw for 193 yards on 13-23, with zero touchdowns and four interceptions. However, he is more effective as a runner. He posted 270 yards rushing and four touchdowns with 6.0 yards per carry. Overall, Abey’s improvement is one of the biggest factors in Navy’s success against LA Tech.
One play derailed Navy’s shot at the Amercian Athletic Championship and a win in the Army-Navy game. Worth and running back Toneo Gulley went down on the same play against Temple. Other players need to step up and be effective in the triple-option system. Running backs Shawn White and Chris High combined for 12 rushing touchdowns and almost 1,000 yards. Multiple capable rushers still provide hope for a sustainable ground game. Yet, if Navy cannot run the ball effectively a victory will be tough.
The last and most important key to victory for the Midshipmen is turning the momentum that went against them the last two games. A heartbreaking loss to Army compiled with a 24-point loss to Temple hurts any team’s confidence. Plenty of talent is left on this roster, more than enough to win this game.
Louisiana Tech 8-5 (6-3 C-USA) Keys to Victory
Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Higgins had a great season with 4,208 passing yards and 37 touchdowns, with only eight interceptions. Moreover, running back Jarred Craft had 1,011 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns. There are quite a few weapons on this LA Tech offense which any defense would have a hard time matching up with. Moreover, Navy’s defense allowed at least 30 points in five of their last seven games, three of which resulted in losses. LA Tech has way more weapons on offense than Navy does.
Preparing for Navy’s triple-option attack is the most important thing any defense can do before playing the Midshipmen. Navy scored at least 66 points twice this season. Furthermore, LA Tech’s high-paced offense leaves their defense on the field for prolongued periods of time. With Navy’s best offensive players injured, the Bulldogs need to not be caught off guard by what is still a strong rushing attack.
Maybe the most obvious key to victory is the pair of star wide receivers Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson playing to their fullest potential. The duo has 27 touchdowns and almost 3,000 receiving yards combined.