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Finding a Way to Bounce Back

Coach Ken Niumatalolo didn't mince words following the Midshipmen's 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday night, calling it "a thorough butt-whipping" and saying that it was "probably one of the worst performances we've had as a team for our program in a long time." He said that he was out-coached and Navy was out-played. Now the Midshipmen must find a way to put that loss in the past and get ready for Western Kentucky University (0-3).

"For us, this next week is the biggest game of our season," Niumatalolo said. "We've got to find a way to move on—learn from our mistakes, take our lickings and our whupping we took, and just move on. That's all of us, including myself. Try to find a way to get better. Get our kids more prepared. Find a way to get us back."

This is the third straight year that Navy has started with a 1-2 record; the Midshipmen haven't been 1-3 since 2002, Paul Johnson's first year as coach. To open the season, the Midshipmen faced three teams that were a combined 27-12 and appeared in bowl games in 2008. WKU, which is in its first season as a full Division I-A member, has a slightly different resume; the Hilltoppers were 2-10 last year, and lost their final eight games.

WKU lost its first three games—to Tennessee, South Florida and Division I-AA Central Arkansas—by a combined score of 126-27. The Hilltoppers are very young; they have only 11 scholarship seniors, and 57 of their 85 scholarship players are either freshmen or sophomores.

But the Midshipmen are focusing more on improving their own performance. Navy's offense was held to just 129 yards rushing, the fifth-lowest total in the triple-option era, and the defense gave up 243 passing yards and a touchdown on the opening possession for the third straight game.

"It's the nature of the sport," senior linebacker Ross Pospisil said. "We've just got to dig deep, [and figure out] who are we as Navy football, what are we going to be about. And find something we haven't found yet. I have no doubt that we can do that."

By Camille Powell  |  September 21, 2009; 11:14 AM ET
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