Head-to-head: Navy vs. SMU

The Navy Midshipmen (3-6) travel to Texas to take on the SMU Mustangs (6-3). Last week both teams broke losing streaks. Navy ended their frustrating six game losing skid with a 42-14 rout of Troy. SMU bounced back from two straight losses with a 45-24 victory over Tulane. Navy holds an 8-7 series lead. The Midshipmen in are 7-1 against the Mustangs since 1995.

The winner of the game will receive the Gansz Trophy which was created to honor former Navy player Frank Gansz who coached at both

Navy rushing offense
SMU rushing defense
Navy's spread option rushing attack was back on track last week against Troy. The Mids rushed for 390 yards, averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scoring five touchdowns. Quarterback Kriss Proctor (628 yards, 4.4 avg.,10 TDs in 2011) returned from an elbow injury and scored two touchdowns. Aaron Santiago returned to lead the Mids with 80 rushing yards. After breaking his arm against Western Kentucky earlier this year, his career was feared to be over. Santiago's speed and burst in the hole was a welcomed addition back for the offense. The Mids, who average 318 yards per game, are currently ranked third in the nation in rushing yards per game. B-back Alexander Teich (651 yards,4.8 avg., 3 TDs in 2011) ran for 95 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Mustangs last year. Slotback Gee Gee Greene had five carries for 52 yards and scored a touchdown last week.

SMU's 3-4 defense ranks 18th in the nation allowing just 106 rushing yards a game. The strength of the Mustangs is their linebackers. Mike linebacker Taylor Reed is active, runs well and leads team with 60 tackles. Reed, who recorded 145 tackles in 2010, was named All-Conference USA honorable mention in 2010. Ja'Gared Davis is a playmaking will outside linebacker. Davis has posted 52 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss with six passes defensed and a forced fumble. Up front SMU has a huge defensive end in Taylor Thompson 6-6, 285 (30 tackles, 7 tackle for loss). The Mustangs did a good job against the Mids running game in the first half the past year two years before being wore down in second half and losing both games.
Navy passing offense
SMU passing defense
Senior Kriss Proctor is questionable to return this week. This season Proctor has completed 42 of his 78 pass attempts (53.8%) for 684 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Last week Proctor completed 4-of-6 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Turner (10 rec., 253 yards, 25.3 avg., 3 TDs in 2011) has emerged as the big threat in the passing game. Matt Aiken (12 rec., 192 yards, 16.0 avg., 2 TDs) leads the team in receptions. Gee Gee Greene caught his longest touchdown pass this year, 48 yards, against Troy when he was left uncovered on a go- route.

SMU ranks 67th in the nation in pass defense. SMU's secondary returns strong safety Ryan Smith to the lineup after missing some time with an injury. The Mustangs rely on their ability to generate a pass rush to protect their secondary. Outside linebacker Ja'Gared Davis has posted 3.5 sacks and forced a fumble this year. Davis had a career-high two sacks last week against Tulane. Defensive end Taylor Thompson has seven sacks. Cornerback Richard Crawford is the Mustang's best cover cornerback with 21 tackles, an interception and nine passes broken up. The other cornerback Kenneth Acker (42 tackles) is very aggressive and active in run support.  
SMU rushing offense
Navy rushing defense
SMU junior running back Zach Line is a 6-1, 230 power back with speed. Lane has been impressive rushing 184 times 1,089 yards, averaging 5.9 yards a carry and 17 touchdowns. Line was recruited to SMU initially as a linebacker before being moved to the backfield. Liner was named first-team All-Conference USA in 2010 after rushing for 1,494 yards. Last year Line averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 10 touchdowns. SMU senior quarterback J.J. McDermott isn't very mobile for a Run and Shoot quarterback.

Navy is ranked 87th in the country in rush defense allowing over 187 rushing yards per game. Navy's defense returned to the 3-4 defense, after using a 4-3 against Notre Dame, last week. The defense benefited from the return of inside linebacker Matt Brewer who made six tackles against Troy. The front seven played better allowing Troy only 118 yards and an average of 3.5 yards per carry. I'm not sure how excited Navy fans should get after one game. The Mid offense scored 35 first half points and forced Troy to throw making it a little easier for the defense. Navy has trouble against offenses like SMU that spread the field and make your front get off blocks and tackle in space. Against Troy last week senior captain Jabaree Tuani (5 tackles) had his best performance in a while.  
SMU passing offense
Navy passing defense
SMU's Run and Shoot offense ranks 15th in the nation in passing averaging over 296 passing yards a game. The Mids will face for the first time Mustang senior quarterback J.J. McDermott. McDermott replaced a struggling Kyle Padron, last year's starter, in the opener and led SMU to scores on his first two drives. McDermott started the next week and led the Mustangs to five straight wins including a victory over TCU. Against TCU, McDermott was 23-of-45 for 349 yards and four touchdowns as SMU beat the 20th-ranked Frogs 40-33 in overtime he was named the Conference USA Player of the Week. This season the strong-armed J.J. McDermott has completed 191 of 329 passes (58.1%) for 2515 yards with 13 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. As usual the Mustangs have plenty of play makers at receiver. Darius Johnson has 53 receptions for 760 yards and has scored five touchdowns. Der'rikk Thompson is a home-run threat averaging 16.2 yards a catch with three touchdowns catches on just 18 receptions. Cole Beasley leads the team with 58 receptions and has posted 747 yards and one touchdowns.

The Mids rank 109th in the nation in pass defense. Navy's secondary is battling injuries with cornerback David Wright (21 tackles, 1 pass defenses) out and his replacement Jonathan Wev hurt. Last week the Trojans completed a lot of underneath patterns but the Mids shut them out in the first half. Troy quarterback Corey Robinson was sacked by Colin Sturdivant (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery).LB Tra'ves Bush knocked down a pass and led the Mids with 10 tackles and big hits last week. David Sperry made eight tackles in the victory over Troy and had a much better game in coverage. Parrish Gaines made seven tackles last week and was able to force a fumble. Rover Kwesi Mitchell (43 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 pass defensed) had his best game in a while. Plebe safety Chris Ferguson (36 tackles, 1 INT, 3 pass defensed) has demonstrated good speed and range. The Navy secondary has experienced growing pains with two plebes starting.  
Special Teams
SMU sophomore Chase Hover has hit 7 of 9 field goal attempts. Punter Matt Stone has averaged 36.2 yards a punt. Stone has placed nine punts inside the twenty yard line. He does a nice job of limiting returns as teams average just 4.2 yards per punt return against SMU. James Richardson averages 19.8 yards on kickoff returns. Richard Crawford, who average 14.8 yards on his 12 punt returns, is a dangerous punt returner. Crawford has a 92-yard return for a touchdown this year. SMU kick coverage teams are very good. Margus Hunt, 6-foot-9 defensive end, holds the NCAA record for seven blocks in a season (2009)

Navy has lost three games this season because of special team's mistakes. Kicker Jon Teague's has struggled hitting just 6 of 11 attempts. Plebe punter Pablo Beltran has averaged 37.6 yards per punt. Beltran hasn't hit the ball as well as he did earlier in the year. Kick returner Marcus Thomas lost his job with a brutal game against Notre Dame. Darius Staten and Bo Snelson haven't done much since replacing Thomas. Navy continues to struggle on kickoff coverage allowing an average of 26.3 yards on kickoff returns. Last week the Mids allowed a 54 yard kickoff return by Worthy who was run down by cornerback David Sperry. Punt return coverage has been good with the Mids allowing a season long return of just ten yards. On punt returns sure handed Matt Aiken (6.5 avg.) hasn't seen many opportunities with the Navy defense struggling..  
In two short years Run and Shoot offensive genius June Jones has rebuilt SMU since they returned from the NCAA death penalty. His SMU record is 22-26 and his career mark is now 98-67. Jones has led SMU to back-to-back Conference USA Western Division Championships and bowl berths. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the All-State Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season. Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego. Ken Niumatalolo's team was focused and well prepared last week and it showed. Troy's defense had no answers for Ivin Jasper's spread option attack. Jasper really made Troy pay with the play action pass as they attempted to stop the run. After some red zone troubles the last month, Navy finished 5 for 5 in the red zone with each score being a being a touchdown. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green called the game from the coaching booth. Green felt it would give him a better view of the game and allow him to call the defensive plays more efficiently. Special teams continue to be a concern.  
Navy has won seven of the last eight games against SMU since they started playing triple option football. Navy has had SMU's number. The Mids must have this game, and win out the rest of the way, if they are to keep their consecutive bowl streak alive. SMU had Navy on the ropes the last two years only to see the Mids make two huge second half rallies to win.  

PREDICTION: SMU, 35-24. The last few years superior Navy teams had to pull out all the stops to beat SMU. If the Mid defense can play like they did last week they'll win. I 'm not sure if Navy's passing game and defense is up to the task to beat SMU on the road. I hope that I'm wrong.

See what Navy fans are saying about this upcoming game in the GoMids.com GoMidshipmen FORUM.

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