Game with Army looms, but Niumatalolo wants Navy football to pay attention to San Jose State

Midshipmen have locked up bowl berth, but host Spartans need just one win to qualify for bowl of their own

  • Navy's Trey Miller is tackled by San Jose State's David Tuitupou during the Midshipmen's 12-0 loss to the Spartans last year.
Navy's Trey Miller is tackled by San Jose State's… (Evan Habeeb, US PRESSWIRE )
November 20, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

In the not-too-distant future, Navy will meet archrival Army in the latest installment of arguably college football’s greatest rivalry at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 14.

But before the Midshipmen (6-4) can begin focusing on preparing for their most contentious foe, they still have the matter of a nationally televised game Friday night at San Jose State (5-5).

The two sides have met just twice, but the Spartans won both meetings, in 2011 and 2012. And they need just one more victory to become bowl-eligible.

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo acknowledged after Tuesday’s practice that he was concerned his players might overlook San Jose State for Army.

“Always worried about this game,” he said. “Last time we went over there, and we didn’t play well at all [in a 27-24 loss on Nov. 19, 2011]. It was probably our worst game of the year. They played well. Going across country, they’re a good team, they’re trying to get a bowl win. Like you said, our biggest game is in a couple weeks, but we’ve got to get ready for these guys, or it will be like the last two times when they beat us.”

So how does Niumatalolo plan on motivating the Midshipmen for Friday's game? By going back to the tape.

“Looking at last year’s tape should be enough motivation,” he said. “It was 12-0. You just try your best to recognize that we’re still the Naval Academy. Everybody is bigger, faster and stronger. Every week, you’ve got to bring it to the field.”

Junior free safety Parrish Gaines said he is not worried about the team looking past the Spartans, simply because the players take their cues from Niumatalolo.

“Coach Niumatalolo would never let that happen,” Gaines said. “Yeah, we play Army in three-and-a-half weeks, but we want to go into that game full speed off of a win. Nobody wants to lose and, going off of a loss, I feel like that would bring the team morale down. Going into a win jacked up, right now, we’re trying to keep it going with [win] No. 7 all the way to going to No. 9.”

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