Scouting Report: San Jose State

Navy (1-2) seeks to even the series against the visiting San Jose State Spartans (3-1, 0-0 WAC) this weekend. After a tough set of games to open the season, the Mids will look to even the record at 2-2 before trips to Air Force and Central Michigan.

Navy (1-2) seeks to even the series against the visiting San Jose State Spartans (3-1, 0-0 WAC) this weekend. After a tough set of games to open the season, the Mids will look to even the record at 2-2 before trips to Air Force and Central Michigan.

In a tough loss in Palo Alto, Calif., against No. 8 Stanford, the Spartans trailed 17-3 at halftime but erupted with 14 points in the third quarter to tie the game. The Spartans converted 29 percent more on third down than the Cardinals, and outgained them 288-280 in total yards. Penalties and a late fumble deep in their own territory would head to a 20-17 defeat.

Since The Opening loss, San Jose State's offense has been superb, gaining 475 or more offensive yards in each of its last three games, while outscoring opponents 123-67 in the three straight wins.

Last week at San Diego State, quarterback David Fales started off slow but erupted with 21 fourth quarter points to lead the Spartans to a defeat of the Aztecs. San Jose State trailed 27-24 with less than six minutes to go when Fales promptly led the Spartans on a 5 play, 77-yard drive, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Otten to take the lead. San Diego State responded a minute later with a 40-yard touchdown pass to put the Aztecs back on top. With just more than two minutes remaining, Fales orchestrated a near perfect drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Chandler Jones with 50 seconds remaining. It would be all the Spartans needed as San Diego State quarterback Ryan Katz would be sacked twice to ensure the victory. A junior college transfer (Monterey Peninsula College), Fales has led the Spartans pro-style offense with ease and is the 21st ranked quarterback in the country with a 162.97 passing efficiency rating. Fales has completed 95 for 132 pass attempts for 1,123 yards with 9 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions.

Though the passing game is the bread and butter of the Spartan offense with 1,222 yards passing to 503 rushing yards, senior running back De'Leon Eskridge has been solid-- running for 297 yards rushing, 5 yards per carry, and 3 scores. Despite the fact that the Spartan's pro-style offense gets more production out of the passing game, it is also very balanced with 133 rushing attempts to 137 pass attempts. Ervin is the second leading rusher on the team with 90 yards rushing while adding a score on his feet.

Junior receiver Noel Grigsby leads the Spartan receiving corps with 22 receptions for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sophomore Jabari Carr caught the go-ahead touchdown pass against Navy a year ago and is second on the team with 22 catches for two scores. Junior receiver Chandler Jones leads the team with 5 touchdown catches and 219 yards receiving. Junior receiver Kyle Nunn completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Jones against Colorado State and adds 12 receptions for 103 receiving yards. Senior tight end Ryan Otten has 12 receptions for 191 yards and a score on a team that currently ranks 20th in the country--averaging 305.8 passing yards per game.

San Jose State's ability to run and pass has made it possible for them to convert 45 percent of third downs. When they get in the red zone, the Spartans have scored in 15 of 17 trips with 11 touchdowns and four field goals. The Mids will also need to make sure they don't get down early as the Spartans are outscoring opponents 89-33 in the second half.

San Jose State's heavy blitzing, 4-3 defense currently ranks fourth in the country with 17 sacks. Senior defensive end Travis Johnson leads the defense with 9½ tackles for a loss and a team-high 6 sacks. Senior defensive end David Tuitupou has been done well in his first season in increased action, adding a tackle for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble. At defensive tackle Travis Raciti has been a force in the backfield with 5½ tackles for a loss and 3½ sacks. Anthony Larceval has also disrupted opposing teams with 7 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, and two sacks.

Middle linebacker Vince Buhagiar tops team with 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble. Outside linebacker Keith Smith started every game in 2012 and led the team in tackles. Smith injured his ankle in the win at San Diego State and will be a game time decision for Navy.

Safety Cullen Newsome has been a force in a secondary that allows opponents 207 yards passing per game. Opposite Newsome is senior James Orth who led the Spartans in interceptions over the last two seasons, and adds one this year. Cornerback Damon Ogburn Jr. is tied for fourth in the country with 3 forced fumbles and 25 tackles. Junior Bené Benwikere has also contributed at safety with 13 tackles and an interception returned 43 yards against UC Davis.

Freshman placekicker Austin Lopez is a perfect 5 for 5 from field goal range with a career high of 43 yards. Junior Harrison Waid has handled punt return duties and averaged 45.4 yards per punt and 3 punts inside opponents 20.

Sophomore cornerback Tyler Ervin won WAC Special Teams Player of the Week for his 97-yard kick return for a touchdown against San Diego State last week. The Spartans had another long, 67-yard kick return by Damon Ogburn Jr. that gave them field position to take the lead.

If there is one thing we learned in the first two weeks against Notre Dame and Penn State, it's that the Midshipmen need to be able to defend the pass. If Navy is able to avoid the turnovers and give the Spartans high powered passing offense some trouble then this could be quite a matchup. San Jose State is riding a wave of confidence after an emotional win at San Diego State and Navy's record is deceptive of its true potential. A win against the Spartans would get the Mids back up to 2-2 on the season and give the Navy faithful room to breathe after a frustrating 0-2 start. Top Stories