Head-to-head: Navy vs. San Jose State

The Navy Midshipmen (4-6) travel to the West Coast to take on the San Jose State Spartans (3-7). The Mids enter this game coming off their most impressive win of the year, a (24-17) road victory over SMU. San Jose State lost its second game in a row where they surrendered a double digit lead in losing 34-33 to Utah State.

Last week they led by 12 points with 8:21 remaining before Utah State threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to beat the Spartans. San Jose State has lost three consecutive games by a total of 14 points. This is the first meeting between San Jose State and Navy.

San Jose State
Navy rushing offense
San Jose State rushing defense
Navy's spread option rushing attack produced 335 yards, averaged 5.2 yards per carry last week. Quarterback Kriss Proctor (735 yards, 4.6 avg., 10 TDs in 2011) ran for 107 yards on 17 carries against SMU. Slotback Aaron Santiago (168 yards, 8.0 avg., 2 TDs) has played well since returning from a broken arm. The Mids are currently ranked second in the nation in rushing yards per game. Navy averages 319 rushing yards per game. Leading rusher, B-back, Alexander Teich (741 yards, 4.7 avg., 3 TDs in 2011) ran for 90 yards against the Mustangs last week. Slotback Gee Gee Greene had a great game against SMU. Gee Gee Greene ran eight times for 67 yards and scored a touchdown. Greene made a terrific block on Stukel's touchdown run and had a number of key runs. Gee Gee converted a huge third-and-6 late in the game. Greene made a nice catch of a tough pitch, then finished his run with a dive for an eight yard gain to help Navy to run out the clock.

San Jose State is ranked 96th in total defense and 103rd against the run. The Spartan are allowing over 202 rushing yards a game. The Spartans employ a 4-3 defense. Sophomore linebacker Keith Smith leads the team with 86 tackles (3.5 for a loss) and two forced fumbles. Last year Smith was named 2010 WAC freshman of the year when he recorded 116 tackles and 14 tackles for a loss. Safety Duke Ihenacho (69 tackles,1 interception, 2 forced fumbles) is active and aggressive in run support. Linebacker Pompey Festejo has posted 66 tackles, 3 for a loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles this year. Festejo forced a fumble and made nine tackles last week at Utah State.
Navy passing offense
San Jose State passing defense
Senior Kriss Proctor only attempted two passes last week and failed to complete any of his throws. This season Proctor has completed 42 of his 80 pass attempts (52.5%) for 684 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. 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 drew a key pass interference penalty against SMU that set up Navy's first touchdown last week. Greene has ten catches for 152 yards and four scores.

San Jose State ranks 90th in the nation in pass defense. The Spartan's best player in the secondary is fast, hard-hitting safety Duke Ihenacho (1 interception). Cornerback Peyton Thompson picked off his third pass this season last week against Utah State. Thompson has made 30 career starts for the Spartans. James Orth converted from wide receiver to safety and has picked off four passes this season. Defensive end Travis Johnson (58 tackles, 11.3 for loss, 8 sacks) is an excellent pass rusher who can really fly off the corner and create havoc. The Spartans have gained at least one turnover in nine consecutive games. They lead the WAC with 29 takeaways.  
San Jose State rushing offense
Navy rushing defense
San Jose State ranks 108th (104 ypg.) in the nation in rushing. Running back Brandon Rutley hasn't been the same since suffering a sprained ankle in early October. He rushed for 340 yards in victories over New Mexico State and Colorado State before the ankle injury forced him to miss the BYU game. This year Rutley has carried the ball 170 times for 713 yards (4.2 avg.) and 9 scores. His back-up is speedy Tyler Ervin (106 yrds, 1 TD) who was moved from cornerback earlier this year. San Jose state senior quarterback Matt Faulkner is a drop-back quarterback who lacks mobility and isn't a threat to run.

Navy is ranked 82th in the country in run defense allowing over 182 rushing yards per game. Navy's defense has improved the last two weeks. The defense allowed 137 rushing yards last week. Inside LB Matt Brewer made nine tackles and knocked down a pass against SMU. Brewer brings a physical presence that the Mids lacked inside when he's was out. Tra'ves Bush made nine tackles and had one for a loss last week. Matt Warrick made seven tackles and had a key pass breakup on fourth down. Defensive end Joshua Jones has started the last three games. Against SMU he made five tackles and knocked down a pass.
San Jose State passing offense
Navy passing defense
San Jose State passing offense is ranked 35th in the country in passing averaging over 261 passing yards a game. It's one area where this team has improved. Spartan senior quarterback Matt Faulkner has completed 214 of 336 passes (62.4%) for 2,441 yards with 10 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. The Spartan have terrific targets in wide receiver Noel Grigsley and tight end Ryan Otten. Grigsley is ranked 13th nationally in pass receptions with 74 which had produced 699 yards and a touchdown. Grigsley was named to the 2011 Biletnikoff Award watch list. Tight end Ryan Otten leads all FBS tight ends with 626 receiving yards this year on 42 catches (14.9 avg) and has scored five touchdowns. He was named to the John Mackey Award Mid-Season Watch List. Wide receiver Chandler Johnson has 49 receptions for 474 yards and has scored two touchdowns. Senior left tackle David Quessenberry has started 23 consecutive games. Quessenberry is the older brother of Navy plebe Paul Quessenberry who led NAPS in sacks last year. The Mids rank 102nd in the nation in pass defense. Navy cornerback David Sperry had one of his best games this year against SMU. Sperry made six tackles and had a key interception in the end zone. Senior captain Jabaree Tuani has battled injuries and a bad back this year. He was at the top of his game against SMU posting a sack, three tackles for loss and a pass knocked down. Tuani dominated all game. Tuani now has 38.5-career tackles for a loss which is the third highest total in school history since that defensive statistic has been tracked. Plebe Parrish Gaines has struggled since being pressed into action as the starter three games ago after the Mids secondary suffered a number of injuries to their cornerbacks. Gaines tackling has been inconsistent. It's important against the Spartans short passing game that the Mids limit the receivers yards after the catch. Plebe free safety Chris Ferguson (36 tackles, 2 INTs, 3 pass defensed ) made an interception last week against SMU.  
Special Teams
San Diego State kicker Jens Alvernik set a single-game school record with four field goals against Utah State. Alvernik has connected on 14 of 19 field goal attempts and has made all his extra point attempts. The Spartans have an excellent punter in Harrison Waid. Waid has averaged 43.3 per punt and has placed 15 punts inside the 20-yard line. Brandon Rutley averages 4.2 yards per punt return. Freshman Tyler Ervin (24.9 KOR) scored on a 95-yard kickoff return in the first quarter against Utah State. It was the first time the Spartans have returned a kickoff for a touchdown since 2005.The Spartans coverage teams are average and have allowed a punt return for a touchdown.

Navy has lost at least three games this season because of special teams mistakes. Kicker Jon Teague has struggled all year hitting just 7 of 12 attempts. Plebe punter Pablo Beltran has averaged 38 yards a punt. Beltran hasn't hit the ball as well as he did earlier in the year. Kick returner Marcus Thomas (21.5 avg., 1 TD) was back returning kick offs last week. Punt returner Matt Aiken (4.5 avg.) fumbled a punt last week but the turnover did not costs the Mids. The Mids special teams have been mediocre in all areas. They are ranked 86th in net punting (35.4), 98th on kickoff returns (19.7), 70th in punt returns (7.6) and 115th in kickoff return defense (25.9).
San Jose state has played more competitively this year under second year coach Mike MacIntyre. They have experienced a number of bitter losses as they attempt to turn the program around. MacIntyre faces a difficult task as the school's program is underfunded and the WAC has been ripped apart by realignment. His career record at San Jose State is 4-19.
Navy has a chance to keep their eight year consecutive bowl streak alive if they run the table. San Jose State hasn't faced an option team in years. The Mids enter the game playing their best football while the Spartans may be demoralized by a series of fourth quarter collapses. The Mids do have to fly cross country with a short turn around for this game.

PREDICTION: Navy, 45-24. Navy usually handles defensive teams that struggle against the run and haven't seen an option team. It's difficult for some larger, more successful programs to limit the triple option. Navy once again on the right track, I would be surprised if the Mids didn't win this one pulling away.

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