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How many times will Navy pass the ball?

Navy Football

Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry looks to throw during a practice Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Tommy Gilligan)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, September 13, 2019

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo said earlier this week that he wants to see more passes this year from quarterback Malcolm Perry.

East Carolina defensive coordinator Bob Trott is not putting too much stock into any new Navy mindset and is still planning to mainly see running plays Saturday when the Pirates and Midshipmen meet in Annapolis, Md., at 3:30 p.m.

“Their run sets up play-action pass,” Trott said after Wednesday’s practice. “They’ll throw it some and throw it when they have to. Every once in a while they will throw it just so they can say they are a passing team.”

With Navy coming into the weekend with the No. 1 rushing offense in the country thanks to 428 yards on the ground Week 1 in a 45-7 victory over Holy Cross, it is no secret what Navy wants to do against the Pirates with its multi-faceted triple-option attack that is led by Perry and fullback Nelson Smith.

“Stopping the run would be nice,” Trott said when asked what his defense could do to create a successful Saturday for ECU (1-1) in Annapolis, Md. “We have to play good on first and second down. You have to try to win that first and second down to get them in longer yardage.”

Navy (1-0) has used Perry as a QB and a slot back during his career, but Niumatalolo said an important development this offseason was that Perry spent a lot of time working on his passing.

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior has three career 200-yard rushing games and another with 166 in a win over Memphis a year ago.

He matched his career-high for pass attempts when he was 6-for-9 for 103 yards against Holy Cross. He was 2-for-9 as a junior in his only other game with nine passes.

The game against Holy Cross also saw Navy finish with 67 run plays.

The last Navy-ECU matchup was a 66-31 win in 2016 by the Midshipmen in Greenville. Quarterback Will Worth was 3-for-5 passing for 113 yards.

“We did a better job as a staff letting (Perry) know that he is our quarterback going into spring ball and for this whole season,” Niumatalolo said. “We told him that we are not going to move you and don’t worry about going back to be a slot back. He spent from January to now until September just working on his throwing and throwing mechanics and footwork and all of that stuff. We are really happy with him.”

ECU is 1-5 all-time against Navy. The first matchup in 2006 was a 28-23 victory by the Midshipmen despite them throwing for only 6 yards.

The Pirates’ lone victory came in 2011 when Navy attempted 16 passes and completed 12 of them for 244 yards, but it was the Pirates who won behind their talent at receiver and the arm of QB Dominique Davis with 40 completions on 45 passes.

“In years past, we didn’t care what (defenses) did and we would just keep trying to pound the ball, but we feel like with some of the skill guys that we have that we can’t allow people to do that,” Niumatalolo said. “A lot of it is dictated on how people are playing and how aggressive they are, but we would like to throw the ball more this season."

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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