Scouting Report: VMI

The Navy Midshipmen (0-2) welcome the Virginia Military Institute Keydets (0-3) to Annapolis, Md., for their first game at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium of the season. VMI is coming off a crushing 47-6 loss to Richmond last week that saw the Spiders score 37 unanswered points while demolishing the Keydets 487-197 in offensive yardage.

VMI fell behind early when Justin Grant returned The Opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The Keydets were held to a three and out on their opening series and forced to punt. Richmond took the punt and marched 91 yards for a field goal that put them up 10-0. Junior signal caller Eric Kordenbrock responded by marching the Keydets on a 10-play, 62-yard drive to pull the game to 6-10 early in the second quarter. Those would be the only points of the day the Keydets could muster, as a fumble and an interception returned for a score would lead to easy points for the Spiders. VMI was unable to stop Spider receiving threat Ben Edwards, who had 11 catches for 122 yards.

In Week 2, receiver Jabari Turner led the Keydets with four catches for 89 receiving yards and two scores, while also rushing 13 times for 45 yards. VMI outgained Chowan 213-100 in the first half, but the Hawks were able to even it out in the second half and finish the game with 306 total offense yards to the VMI's 308. Chowan quarterback Cameron Stover was 28 for 52 for 246 yards passing and a touchdown. Again, the Keydets were unable to contain an opposing receiver as Chowan's Damian Ellis caught four passes for 77 yards.

In their Week 1 loss to Delaware State, VMI trailed the Hornets until Jeff Sexton's 22-yard field goal tied the game at 10 with 2:35 remaining. Delaware State got the ball nearly midfield after 38-yard kickoff return. The Hornets marched 55 yards in 9 plays to score a game winning 4-yard touchdown run with 43 seconds remaining. Kordenbrock's attempt at marching the Keydets for a victory fell short when his last pass attempt was intercepted to end the game.

The Keydets have been most successful through the air led by quarterback Eric Kordenbrock, who is 64 for 107 with 2 touchdowns passes and 5 interceptions. Kordenbrock spreads the ball around a fair amount to his receivers but has thrown as many interceptions returned for touchdowns as he has touchdown passes this season.

The Keydets passing game gets the most out of a pair of running backs who contribute significantly to its passing game. Redshirt sophomore James Rodgers leads the Keydet receiving corps with 11 catches for 111 yards after catching passes in all but one game a year ago. Running back David Turner is the second highest receiving threat with 9 catches for 102 yards. Redshirt senior Aaron Lewis missed the first five games of 2011, but then burst on the scene with two catches for 80 yards or more--Lewis has 6 receptions for 67 yards this season. Four other Keydet receivers add 4 or more catches, including senior Stefawn Ross who has 5 for 68 yards. Ross, a Virginia native, came to VMI as an outside linebacker and was converted to wide receiver his sophomore season.

Running back David Turner has ran for 113 yards and 2 scores with a 3.6 yards per rush average. Following closely behind Turner is sophomore Jabari Turner, who has ran for 103 yards rushing and a score. Freshman Derrick Ziglar paves the way for the two at fullback, while adding 38 yards on 8 carries. The Keydets have had more success throwing the ball compared to a running game that averages 2.9 yards per carry and 80.7 yards rushing per game. It should be a great game to gauge the Mids defensive growth after a rough game against a top ranked Notre Dame team in Ireland, and another hard one against a hungry Penn State team.

Shawn Chapman leads a strong defensive line with 6 tackles and a tackle for loss; the senior defensive tackle is the most experienced on the defensive line and one of the strongest on the team. Senior Charlie Jones returns on a veteran group of defensive lineman after leading the team with 11 tackles for loss last season. Redshirt junior Justin Smith starts at the left defensive end after starting all of 2011 at defensive tackle--in three games Smith has posted 5½ tackles, 2 for a loss, and a sack.

Linebacker Ty Garvin is second on the team with 16 tackles--including 2 for a loss--and a sack. Redshirt junior Chris Harper leads the linebacking corps with 16 tackles, 1½ for a loss, and a fumble recovery. Weston Reber returns after dealing with injuries in the last two seasons; the inside linebacker has performed well with 7½ tackles in three games.

Inside linebacker Miller Williams played mostly on special teams in 2011 but earned a spot in the two-deep roster and has performed well with 8½ tackles, including a tackle for loss. This season the Keydets linebacking group has performed as well--or better--than any other VMI defensive group on the field. The Keydets have allowed opponents average 123.7 yards rushing per game and 3 rushing touchdowns through three games.

After facing tough quality opponents in Week 1 and 2, the Midshipmen should enjoy a chance to run their offense against a VMI team opponents average 220.3 yards passing per game attempt against. Cornerback James Fruehan leads the Keydets with 19½ tackles, 2 pass break ups, and 2 passes defended. Senior strong safety Michael Johnson leads the secondary as the most experienced and returned as the top returning tackler from 2011. Free safety Adam Morgan has adjusted well from his switch quarterback over the offseason--the redshirt junior is second among the secondary with 11 tackles.

Junior Mike Smith starts at cornerback after a sophomore season that was plagued by injury. The junior cornerback has tallied 4½ tackles, 2 passes deflected, and an interception.

Sophomore James Fruehan has been the sole punt returner for the Keydets with a long return of 25 yards and an average of 10.3 yards per punt return. Ethan Preston has handled the majority of the kickoff return duties with a long return of 39 yards and a 23.9 yard per kick return average.

David Eberhardt has been excellent punting for the Keydets, with a season long of 54 yards and 3 punts going longer than 50 yards. The redshirt junior punter has also booted four punts inside the 20.

In the opener against Delaware State, Jeff Sexton missed his first two field goals of the year from 33 and 41 yards out. The senior kicker later recovered making his next field goal from 22 yards. In Week 2 against Chowan, Sexton made a 36-yard field goal--his longest of the year.

After a brutal first set of games, the Mids will finally get a little breathing room against the Virginia Military Institute. Navy's offense has played well in its first two matchups, but the margin for error was incredibly small against that competition. The Mids cannot afford to turn the ball over as often as they have, although a mistake will likely not be as crushing against the Keydets as it was against Notre Dame. Navy will enjoy a two-game home stretch before travelling to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Falcons. Top Stories