Head-to-head: Navy vs. VMI

Navy returns home to play FBS opponent Virginia Military Institute at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy opened the season with two losses for the first time since 2005. The Midshipmen have been outclassed as they been outscored 84-17 to start the season. VMI enters the game 1-2 following being dominated by Richmond 47-6.

Navy returns home to play FBS opponent Virginia Military Institute at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy opened the season with two losses for the first time since 2005. The Midshipmen have been outclassed as they been outscored 84-17 to start the season. VMI enters the game 1-2 following being dominated by Richmond 47-6. This is the ninth meeting between these teams with Navy winning all the previous contests.

Navy's rushing offense
vs.
VMI's rushing defense
Edge: Navy
Navy opened the season against two tough defenses but they are ranked an uncharacteristic low 41st in the nation in rushing while averaging just 202 rushing yards. Against Penn State the new offensive line with Travis Fleming making his first start at center and Graham Vickers moving from center back to right tackle fared better than they did in the opener. Still, they are still not firing on all cylinders. New starting quarterback Trey Miller's reads have been inconsistent and his ball handling has left a lot to be desired. Miller has rushed for just 37 yards on 38 carries. Those are quarterback rushing numbers you expect to see next to Joe Namath in a record book not from a Navy option quarterback. Gee Gee Greene, who had started the last 27 games, is Navy's leading rusher after two games. Greene has run 11 times for 103 yards. He has averaged 9.4 yards per rush attempt and scored a touchdown last week. Miller and the offense have to take better care of the ball. The Mids have lost six fumbles in the first two games after losing just nine fumbles the entire 2011 season.

VMI has been solid against the run this year allowing 126.3 yards per game. The Keydets returned all three defensive linemen from 2011. Senior nose tackle Charlie Jones led the team in tackles for a loss with 11. Inside linebacker Ty Garvin has made 16 tackles this year. VMI lost 41-9 last year against The Citadel's option attack.

Navy Passing
vs.
VMI's Passing defense
Edge: Navy
In the first two games Navy was forced to pass more than they've had to in the past. While not the ideal of the offense the results have been promising. Trey Miller has completed 20 of 32 passes (62.5%) for 209 passing yards and a touchdown. Miller has thrown two interceptions when he made poor decisions under pressure. Direct admit freshman Keenan Reynolds has demonstrated his arm strength in completing 4 of 6 passes for 44 yards. The Mids two new wide receivers have done a solid job. Bolena has eight receptions for 91 yards. Bolena dropped a Trey Miller pass when he tried to make a diving catch at the 1-yard line. Shawn Lynch has provided a big play threat averaging 21 yards on his six catches while scoring a touchdown. The Navy offensive line has struggled in pass protection. They have allowed seven sacks over the first two games.

VMI's defensive end Shawn Chapman led the Big South Conference in 2011 in sacks with five for a loss of 27 yards. Red shirt junior defensive end Justin Smith has a sack and twoquarterback hurries so far this year. The VMI staff believes Jones could contend for all-conference honors. Cornerback James Fruehan leads the team with 19.5 tackles and two passes defensed.

VMI's rushing offense
vs.
Navy's rushing defense
Edge Navy
David Turner leads VMI in rushing with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. The Keydets are averaging just 81.7 yards per game. VMI has lost five fumbles in their first three games. Their offensive line graduated four seniors last year and the new group has had trouble creating holes.

Navy is ranked 99th in the country in stopping the run. The Mids have allowed 201.50 rushing yards a game. Navy's linebackers had trouble getting off blocks and have failed to maintain their gap responsibilities. It opened up huge cutback lanes for running backs. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green is pleased right now only with the play of Raider outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel. He has made 12 tackles, including three tackles for losses, and has recorded two sacks.

VMI's passing offense
vs.
Navy's passing defense
Edge: Navy
VMI's junior quarterback Eric Kordenbrock has completed 63 of 104 passes (60.6%) for 610 passing yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions this year. Last season Kordenbrock passed for 1,792 yards, completed 51% of his passes and threw 10 touchdowns. Kordenbrock is strictly a pocket passer. The Keydets top receiving threat is James Rogers who has made 11 receptions and produced 111 yards. David Turner has been a reliable option out of the backfield catching 9 passes for 102 yards. Fellow running back Jabari Turner has caught both of VMI's touchdown passes. Tight end Mario Thompson was named to the CFPA Watch List for tight ends. He ranked third on the team in most receiving yards with 222 while averaging 20.2 yards per catch. This season Thompson has caught five passes for 41 yards. The Keydets rebuilt offensive line has done a solid job protecting him and have allowed only two sacks.

Navy allowed passing 231 yards and four passing touchdowns last week against Penn State. Cornerback Parrish Gaines (13 tackles, 1 INT) could not handle Nittany Lion wide receiver Allen Robinson. Gaines was beat by Robinson for a 45-yard reception that set up a touchdown. Gaines was beat later on a 45-yard touchdown pass to him. Tra'ves Bush (12 tackles) has struggled in coverage this year. NAPS graduate Quincy Adams made his first career start and posted five tackles with two passes defensed. After seeing him at NAPS I expected Adams to make an impact but didn't expect him to start this year. Navy has not been able to generate much pressure up front. Sophomore Paul Quessenberry may see more playing time on passing downs. At the Naval Academy Prep School he led NAPS in sacks during the 2010 season despite missing time with a shoulder injury. Quessenberry can be disruptive and get up field quickly.

Special Teams
Edge: Navy
VMI kicker Jeff Sexton has hit two of four field goal attempts this season. Last year after winning the job he made 3 of 4 attempts. Punter David Eberhardt has done an excellent job averaging 41.1 per punt and has nailed three punts over 50 yards. The Keydets have a productive returner game. Ethan Preston has averaged 23.9 yards per kickoff returns. James Fruehan is averaging 11.4 yards on his five punt returns.

Nick Sloan has been perfect on the few kicks he attempted. Pablo Beltran has been outstanding so far this season averaging 45.8 yards per punt. Colin Amerau has one touchback on his four kickoffs. Marcus Thomas has averaged 23.1 per kickoff returns. New punt returner Shawn Lynch hasn't had any room on his two chances to return punts. Navy's coverage teams have been solid so far this year.

Coaching
Edge Navy
VMI head coach Sparky Woods (12-35) has been unable to change the FCS division Keydets chronic losing ways. Woods has compiled a career record of 75-81-5 with head coaching stops at Appalachian State and South Carolina.

Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo is trying to get the program back on track. After eight years of success the program has lost nine of its last 14 games. Navy ranks last in the FBS teams in turnover margin and scoring offense. Niumatalolo is focused on getting the team to take care of the football, minimizing penalties and start being fundamentally sound.

Intangibles
Edge: Navy
Navy has been unable to move the ball and score points like they did in the years past against all opposition. So far they are averaging just 366 total yards per game. After two blowout losses they will be looking to get back on track at home. This is an obvious must win for the Mids. For VMI this is the marquee game on their schedule and they will be pumped up to play.

PREDICTION: Navy, 48-10. VMI lost 41-9 last year against the Citadel's option attack. Navy is entering this game winless and will not overlook the Keydets. Expect the Mids to roll in a big way.

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