ANNAPOLIS, Md. – It didn't take a rash of college football upsets to convince Navy that Delaware will be difficult to beat on Saturday.
The rivalry between the Midshipmen and Blue Hens includes Delaware victories in 2003 and 2007, so it didn't matter to Navy that Football Championship Subdivision teams victimized Connecticut, Kansas State and Oregon State over the past two weeks.
"We don't need any examples because we know (Delaware). We've played them many years so we know who they are," Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Great football program, great tradition. They've beaten us in the past. They've got a lot of transfers. Delaware has good football players."
The Midshipmen (1-0) are coming off an uplifting 41-35 win at Indiana last week. This will be their home opener.
Delaware (2-0) has defeated Jacksonville and Delaware State. This marks the first game against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent for Blue Hens first-year coach Dave Brock, who previously served as offensive coordinator at Rutgers.
Here are five things to watch when Navy plays Delaware on Saturday:
SIGNATURE WIN: An upset of the Midshipmen would be a huge early victory for Brock and likely vault the Blue Hens into the FCS Top 25 rankings. Delaware is looking to get back to the playoffs after going 5-6 in 2012, and a win over Navy could be pivotal. "We'll have to play a great game offensively because you know Navy is going to score its share of points," Brock said.
AVOIDING A LETDOWN: Navy conducted a clinic in triple-option football in upsetting Indiana. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds led the way, as the Midshipmen amassed 515 total yards and did not punt. Beating a Big Ten opponent on the road was a big confidence-boost for Navy. But Niumatalolo spent most of the week telling his players they cannot overlook Delaware. "I'm concerned that we'll start to pat ourselves on the back," Niumatalolo said. "If we don't come with our mindset ready like we did last week, it's going to be a long day for us."
HAPPY HOMECOMING: Delaware starting cornerback Travis Hawkins, starting nose guard Zach Kerr, backup linebacker David Mackall and nickel back Mario Rowson are all transfers from Maryland. Hawkins has the rare distinction of playing against Navy as a member of two different schools. He was a redshirt freshman in 2010 when Maryland nipped Navy, 17-14, in the season opener. He started for Delaware in 2011 when the Blue Hens absorbed a 40-7 defeat at Navy.
NO PASSING FANCY: There was a lot of talk during the offseason about Navy throwing the ball more this season. Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper installed some spread passing schemes and had Reynolds working out of the shotgun formation more often. Perhaps it was all a smoke screen. Navy attempted just four passes in the opener with Reynolds completing two for 71 yards. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen rolled up 444 rushing yards with Reynolds (127) and slotback Darius Staten (106) doing the most damage. The Mids opened the game with 29 consecutive rushes and had no need to throw since the Hoosiers couldn't stop the option. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff moves forward with its stated plan to pass more often.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: Navy senior Marcus Thomas needs just one kickoff return in order to set the school record in that category. Thomas has 80 career kickoff return and is currently tied with Reggie Campbell. Thomas did not get an opportunity to return a kickoff against Indiana.