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

The Navy Midshipmen take on the San Jose State Spartans at home this week. The Mids enter this game off their first win of the year, a 41-3 rout of VMI. San Jose State has really improved and are off to a 3-1 start following their win on the road at San Diego State, 38-34.

The Navy Midshipmen take on the San Jose State Spartans at home this week. The Mids enter this game off their first win of the year, a 41-3 rout of VMI. San Jose State has really improved and is off to a 3-1 start following its win on the road at San Diego State, 38-34. San Jose's only loss was a close game against eight ranked Stanford 20-17. Stanford has beat USC this year. Last year San Jose State knocked Navy out of a opportunity for postseason play when the Mids lost at San Jose State, 27-24. That was the first meeting between the two programs.

Navy's rushing offense
vs.
San Jose State rushing defense
Edge Even
Navy's spread option rushing attack produced 403 yards, averaged 7.9 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns last week against a struggling VMI team. Quarterback Trey Miller ran for 116 yards and scored three touchdowns against the Keydets. Miller nearly lost his job after losing two fumbles in the first quarter against VMI. Miller has now committed eight turnovers in three games and has to protect the ball better for Navy to beat the Spartans. Senior slot back Gee Gee Greene had the longest run of his career when he went 36 yards against VMI. Greene ran for 79 yards on eight carries last week. Sophomore B-back Noah Copeland broke out with 126 rushing yards in the win over VMI.

San Jose State is ranked 48th in total defense and 55th against the run. The Spartans, who employ a 4-3 defense, are allowing over 143 rushing yards a game. San Jose State stacked the box with as many as ten players defenders in order to stop the Navy's option attack last year. Last year The Midshipmen were limited to 254 yards on the ground last year. Junior linebacker Vince Buhagiar is the leading tackler with 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks this year. Buhagiar was named Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording a team-high 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in the victory over Colorado State earlier this month. Junior linebacker Keith Smith led the team with 104 tackles (4 for a loss) and three forced fumbles last year but is questionable with an ankle injury.

Navy's passing offense
vs.
San Jose State passing defense
Edge: Even

Trey Miller has struggled running the option at times but has impressed with his arm strength since he first saw playing time last year. Miller has completed 27 for 46 passes (58.7%) for 315 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions. In last season's meeting San Jose State stacked the box with as many as ten defenders in order to stop Navy's option attack. Navy countered with play action passes but former quarterback Kriss Proctor struggled throwing the ball. Proctor hit just 9 of 20 passes for 90 yards with no touchdowns. There were at least five instances where Proctor overthrew wide open receivers. If San Jose State tries to run the same defense Trey Miller will make them pay. Senior Brandon Turner is once again the starter at wide receiver. Turner emerged last year as the Mids big play threat at receiver. In 2011 he played in every game and had a team high 14 receptions for 300 yards (21.4 avg.) with three touchdowns. Junior Shawn Lynch's move back to wide receiver has been seamless. Lynch has averaged 20.1 yards on his seven receptions and has scored a touchdown.

San Jose State ranks 58th in the nation in pass defense. San Jose State is first in the Western Athletic Conference and fourth in the nation with 17 sacks already this season. It is a huge improvement for a team that recorded just 16 sacks in 12 games last season. Led by WAC sack leader Travis Johnson, the Spartans are 16th in the nation in tackles for a loss. Johnson was named the College Football Performance National Defensive Performer of the Week and National Defensive Lineman of the Week after tying two school records and a conference record with four sacks and six tackles for a loss against UC Davis on Sept. 8. In the Spartan secondary safety James Orth has 19 tackles and an interception. He picked off four passes last season. The Spartan defense has produced ten takeaways this year.

San Jose State rushing offense
vs.
Navy's rushing defense
Edge: Even

San Jose State ranks 90th in the nation in rushing with an average of just over 125 yards on the ground per game. De'Leon Eskridge leads the Spartan rushing attack with 298 yards and three touchdowns on 59 carries. Eskridge has averaged just a 5.1 per carry average. Eskridge is a University of Minnesota transfer. His back-up is speedy Tyler Ervin (90 yards, 1 TD) who was moved from cornerback last year. Ervin is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. San Jose State senior offensive lineman David Quessenberry missed the Colorado State game with an ankle injury, snapping his streak of 27 consecutive starts. He might match-up against his brother Paul Quessenberry who plays defensive end for Navy.

Navy is ranked 75th in the country in run defense allowing over 164 rushing yards per game. Navy's defense played its best game allowing just a field goal to an over-matched VMI team. The Mids' defense limited VMI to just three points and 222 total yards on Saturday. Brye French is leading Navy with 21 tackles. Outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel has been the Mids best defender this season. Last year Spartan entered the game ranked just 108th in the nation in rushing but Navy's defense couldn't contain their running attack.

San Jose State's passing offense
vs.
Navy's passing defense
Edge: San Jose State
The Spartans will try to maintain balance, using an effective running game to spread the field for a dangerous aerial attack that features junior college transfer quarterback David Fales. Fales has thrown for 1,124 yards while completing 72 percent of his passes this year. He has thrown nine touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He has a terrific group of targets to utilize in wide receivers Noel Grigsby, Chandler Jones and Jabari Carr along with tight end Ryan Otten. San Jose State passing offense is ranked 20th in the country in passing averaging over 305 passing yards a game. The Spartan have terrific targets in wide receiver Noel Grigsley and tight end Ryan Otten. Grigsley has 22 pass receptions which produced 322 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Ryan Otten is one of the best receiving tight ends in college with 739 receiving yards in 2011 on 52 catches (14.2 avg.) and he's scored five touchdowns. Wide receiver Chandler Johnson is a home run threat with five touchdowns on just 13 receptions.

The Mids rank 81st in the nation in pass defense. Plebe cornerback Quincy Adams had a great game against VMI with two passes defensed and a one-handed interception. Rover Tra'ves Bush has made 19 tackles and has broken up a pass. Junior Jonathan Wev suffered another concussion last week and head coach Ken Niumatalolo announced Wev's playing career was over. The Mids produced three sacks last week against VMI.

Special Teams
Edge: Navy
San Jose State has an excellent punter in Harrison Waid. Waid has averaged 45.4 per punt and has placed three punts inside the twenty yard line. Wald is San Jose State's career leader in punting average at 43.7 yards per punt. Austin Lopez is one of 15 true freshman kickers in the FBS this season. Lopez has converted all five of his field goal attempts for the season with a long of 43 in the San Diego State win. Tyler Ervin is dangerous on kickoff returns. He has returned two kickoff returns for a touchdown in a career. He had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the win over San Diego State. On punt returns Ronnie yell has averaged just three yards a return. The Spartan are average on their coverage teams.

Navy plebe kicker Nick Sloan has made all three of his field goal attempts this year. Punter Pablo Beltran has hammered the ball averaging 45.9 yards a punt. Kick returner Marcus Thomas (22.7 avg.) has been solid as usual. Punt returner Shawn Lynch ripped off a 40-yard return against VMI. The Mids coverage teams are playing much better this season.

Coaching
Edge Navy

Third year head coach Mike MacIntyre looks like he may have turned San Jose State around with a 3-1 record and the only loss being a close 20-17 decision against Stanford. His record at San Jose State is 9-20 including a win over Navy last fall. MacIntyre had his contract extended after leading the Spartans to a 5-7 win-loss record in 2011.

Ken Niumatalolo's is 16-6 at home as a head coach. Niumatalolo is trying to get the program back on track. Navy has already turned the ball over 10 times this year (eight lost fumbles and two interceptions) after committing just 15 turnovers in 2011 (nine lost fumbles and six interceptions). In addition the sloppy play by the young team is seen in the penalties. Navy led the country in fewest penalties last year with just 28. This year it has already committed 16 penalties in the first three games, including seven each against Penn State and VMI.

Intangibles
Edge Navy
Navy is trying to build off their dominate but sloppy win against VMI. The Mids may be looking for some payback after the Spartans ended their eight year consecutive bowl streak last fall. San Jose State is traveling three thousand miles and is coming off a big win. They may be due for a let down.

PREDICTION: San Jose State 38-28. Navy's triple option hasn't been clicking on all cylinders. The Mids secondary faces some match-up problems against the deep Spartan receiver corps. I wouldn't be surprised if the Mids won but against the Spartan receivers and David Fales I don't like this match-up.

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