Navy takes on UConn looking for first 3-0 start since 2006

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Navy’s next ”first” in its inaugural season as a member of the American Athletic Conference comes Saturday, when the Midshipmen visit UConn in the academy’s first conference road game.

Navy will be trying to extend its winning streak to seven games and improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2006.

The Huskies (2-1) will try to bounce back from a tough 9-6 loss at then-No. 22 Missouri. They will be facing a service academy and the triple-option offense for the second time in three weeks after beating Army 22-17 earlier this month.

But Navy is on a different level – stronger, faster and more experienced, said Husky coach Bob Diaco. The Midshipmen lead the nation in rushing at 393 yards a game. They have nine seniors starting on offense, led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who has rushed for 3,349 yards and 70 touchdowns and ”doesn’t make the wrong decision,” when running the option, Diaco said.

UConn’s defense is ranked 18th and has been giving up 126 yards a game on the ground.

Here are some things to watch for as Navy visits UConn:

DANGEROUS BLOCKING? Diaco is not a fan of the cut blocking used in Navy’s triple-option offense. While emphasizing that Navy is a classy team and does nothing illegal, Diaco said he would like to see the practice of diving for defenders legs better regulated to prevent injuries. ”The rules have eradicated a lot of other dangerous things for the players on the field, ”he said. ”This, to me, is the final frontier. Being able to come from a blind area and cut a player that isn’t paying attention to you, you’re really just rolling the dice. There are some elements there that I think would be great nationally to get cleaned up with cut blocking and what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

STREAKING: Navy has not won seven in a row since 1978-79. Their six-game winning streak is tied for the fifth longest in the country with Clemson and North Carolina State. Ohio State has the longest winning streak at 16 games.

NOT SO SPECIAL: Diaco said he’s had to take time away from working on defending Navy’s triple option this week to work on special teams play. The Huskies have had three extra points blocked this season, and gave up a blocked punt that led to a safety against Missouri. He noted that without either the blocked punt or PAT against the Tigers, the Huskies would have been in a position to go for a game-winning field goal on their final drive.

REYNOLDS WRAP: Reynolds’ 70 rushing touchdowns are the most in NCAA history by a quarterback are the fourth most by any offensive player in NCAA history. His 3,349 career yards rushing are the third most in Navy history.

FAMILY CONNECTION: UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs’ grandfather, Jack Shirreffs, played end for Navy in the late 1950s. ”He always told me growing up that he was voted the most attractive player on the Naval Academy,” Bryant Shirreffs said Tuesday. ”It took me until my old adolescence to realize that he was just messing with me.”

”He’ll be rooting for the Huskies, I hope” Shirreffs said.

AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org