Head-to-head: Navy vs. Wake Forest

Navy travels to North Carolina after losing the first leg of the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy for the first time since 2002 to service academy rival Air Force. Wake Forest will play the spread triple option for the second week in a row. Last week the Demon Deacons allowed a Georgia Tech touchdown pass with just 15 seconds left in the game in a bitter loss.

Wake Forest did a good job against the triple option until allowing 18 points in the fourth quarter to lose, 24-20. Last year, behind backup quarterback Kriss Proctor, Navy prevailed 13-10 over Wake Forest in the rain at Annapolis.

Wake Forest
Navy rushing offense
Wake Forest rushing defense
Navy ran for 209 and averaged 4.2 yards per carry last week but didn't score a touchdown against Air Force. Dobbs ankle and groin injuries seem to have limited his burst. Ricky was never the fastest quarterback but isn't breaking tackles and making people miss like in previous years. Dobbs 18 carries produced only 67 yards. Dobbs streak of scoring in every game he started came to an end against Air Force. For the year Dobbs is only averaging only 2.4 yards a carry with a long rush of just 18 yards. The "B" backs didn't have a lot of room inside as they rushed for 83 yards against the Falcons. Gee Gee Greene and Andre Byrd showed good speed outside. Missed assignments by the offensive line and slot backs continue to be a source of frustration. It's amazing to see the Mids ranked 19th in nation in red zone scoring percentage. Wake Forest allowed 209 rushing yards against Georgia Tech's spread option in their last game. Wake Forest has struggled at stopping the run giving up an average of 182.40 yards a game. Wake has suffered a number of injuries at linebacker. Riley Haynes is expected to miss the game. Defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock had six tackles against Georgia Tech. Senior Linebacker and team leader Hunter Haynes, Riley's brother, posted 13 tackles and his first sack of the year against Georgia Tech. The Demon Deacons have allowed over 36 points per game. It's always a bad sign for a defense when their leading tackler, Alex Frye with 35, is your free safety.  
Navy passing offense
Wake Forest passing defense
Two weeks after Ricky Dobbs threw for career high 219 passing against Louisiana Tech, he experienced his worse passing day against Air Force. Dobbs completed only 6 of 18 pass attempts for 103 yards and threw two interceptions. Greg Jones had two catches for 40 yards. Jones made some nice cuts to pick up extra yards on a 21-yard catch in first quarter. Dobbs missed an open Jones deep on last Mid drive of game. Dobbs missed several open receivers and wasn't able to hit anyone in stride. Gee Gee Greene had two catches for 30 yards. Navy's offensive line allowed only one sack. As much as the Demon Deacons run defense has struggled their pass coverage has been worse. Wake Forest ranks 107th in the nation in pass defense. Defensive end Kyle Wilbur is a very good pass rusher and has the speed to give Navy trouble. Wilbur has five sacks this season. Free safety Alex Frye needs to be accounted for since he already has three interceptions this year.  
Wake Forest rushing offense
Navy rushing defense
With the end of the Riley Skinner era at quarterback head coach Jim Grobe has returned to his option roots. Wake Forest ranks 19th in the nation in rushing yards averaging 223 yards a game and have scored 14 touchdowns. Running back Josh Adams leads the Demon Deacons with 202 yards and two touchdowns. Regardless of which quarterback Wake Forest starts, either Skylar Jones or Tanner Price, both are mobile and can run. Wake Forest runs a lot of misdirection and end arounds. Wide receiver Devon Brown has rushed 15 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The Mids allowed 292 yards rushing and two touchdowns to the nation's leading rushing attack. Air Force ran for 131 yards on their first 6 carries but only averaged 3.4 yards a carry the rest of the game. Air Force only had nine first downs rushing. Inside linebacker Max Blue had an impressive first start recording 15 tackles. Fellow inside linebacker Tyler Simmons was in on 11 tackles. After missing way too many tackles during the first two Air Force offensive series the defense settled down and kept Navy in the game. Navy ranks 101st in nation against the run but that is skewed a little bit since Navy has played two option teams and a third, Maryland, who rarely passed.  
Wake Forest passing offense
Navy passing defense
Wake Forest's passing attack isn't the same since Skinner graduated. The Demon Deacons rank 114th in the nation averaging only 126 passing yards a game. Wake Forest has had to play four quarterbacks due to injuries. With the top two quarterbacks out, look for Tanner Price to start with Skylar Jones also seeing time. Price has completed just 48.2 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Jones has also completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Wide receivers Chris Givens (11 catches with an 81-yard touchdown catch) and Marshall Williams (8 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns) have big play ability. Navy ranks 39th in the nation in pass defense. Rover senior captain Wyatt Middleton, a first team All-East selection last year, has 30 tackles this year. Senior free safety Emmett Merchant has suffered two concussions already this year and is a game time decision. Aaron McCauley showed excellent speed off the edge in sacking Jefferson last week. Defensive end Jabaree Tuani had six tackles last year against Wake Forest  
Special Teams
Wake Forest has a very good kicking game. Jimmy Newman has hit 4 of 5 field goal attempts this year. Punter Shane Popham averages 39.7 per kick and does a nice job pinning opponents eight times inside the 20. Devon Brown is a dangerous punt returner averaging 16.4 yards a return. Special teams may have cost Navy the Air Force game. Kyle Delahooke struggles continued as he averaged only 37.6 yards on his five punts. His slow delivery was blocked by the Falcons Jamil Cooks and set up the Falcons' last 15-yard touchdown drive. Joe Buckley first 21-yard field goal attempt missed as it was also deflected by Cooks. Buckley later hit field goals from 25 yards and 32 yards. Gary Myers returned two punts for 15 yards. Alex Teich averaged 26.5 yards on his two kickoff returns.  
Wake Forest's Jim Grobe is a terrific coach who always seems to have his teams well prepared. Navy's red zone offense continues to be a problem. Ivan Jasper play calling remains predictable and uninspired in close. What worked so well the last few years isn't getting the job done right now. Great job of adjustments by Buddy Green after it looked like the Falcons were going to run Navy out of the stadium early. Clock management continues to be an issue for head coach Ken Niumatalolo.  
After three straight losses Wake Forest may be playing to keep their season alive. They will have revenge factor after losing last year to the Mids. Playing a spread option team two weeks in a row will help their preparation. Navy is coming off a very disappointing loss to a fellow service academy team.  

PREDICTION: Navy, 27-20.

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