All that pregame analysis, and everybody forgot about the punter.
Navy sophomore Pablo Beltran could turn out to be a key weapon in a game where neither offense figures to have many big-play moments. He’s already shown his stuff once — a 45-yard punt pinned Army at its own 1-yard line midway through the first quarter, and though the Black Knights managed a first down behind some straight-ahead running, they didn’t manage much else.
Beltran averaged a school-record 45.1 yards this season, a school record. He was the first punter to start for Navy as a plebe since 1992. He earned national player-of-the-week honors Oct. 1 when he booted three of five punts against San Jose State more than 50 yards, and he kicked a 63-yarder in Ireland against Notre Dame.
It’s a football philosophy as old as the Army-Navy rivalry: Offenses want to end their possessions with a kick, be it a point-after-touchdown, a field goal or, at worst, a punt. Anything else means turnover and disaster. If Navy has to settle for the third option often this game, they could do worse than Beltran.