Navy returns home to host the Indiana Hoosiers after the Mids' 31-13 victory over Central Michigan. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1986 when Indiana won 52-29 in Bloomington. The Hoosiers enter the game following a close shootout loss to Ohio State 52-49 last week. After winning just one game last season the Indiana offense has been very effective averaging 35.5 points per game. Navy opened the season 0-2 but the Mids have battled back to win three of their last four games.
Navy's rushing offense
Indiana's rushing defense
Navy ran for 238 rushing yards against Central Michigan. The running attack was efficient but is still missing the production seen in past years. Navy is ranked 14th in the nation in rushing as they average over 233 yards per game. B-back Noah Copeland (344 yards, 1 TD) leads the Mids in rushing. Backup fullback Prentice Christian had a career high 64 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored his first touchdown against Central Michigan. Slotback Gee Gee Greene (292 rushing yards, 7.1 avg., 1TD) has been Navy's most consistent threat running the ball. Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds did a nice job distributing the ball while rushing for 59 yards in his first start last week against Central Michigan. Navy's offensive line, after struggling early in the season, is playing better over the last month. Center Tanner Fleming did not play in the second half against Central Michigan after being injured. Kahikolu Pescaia the backup center played the entire second half. Fleming is expected to return to the starting lineup this week.
Indiana ranks 109th in the nation in rush defense allowing over 221 rushing yards a game. The Hooiser defense is just 92nd in scoring defense allowing 31.8 ponts per game. Middle linebacker David Cooper, a junior college transfer, has made 39 tackles and four tackles for a loss. Sophomore strong safety Mark Murphy (76 tackles in 2011) was Indiana's leading returning tackler. Murphy has 35 tackles this year and will likely spy the pitch back.
Navy passing offense
Indiana's passing defense
Navy's freshman Keenan Reynolds was named FBS offensive player of the week for his performance in his first start against Central Michigan. Reynolds is the first Mid freshman to start at quarterback since Jim Kubiak in 1991. Reynolds has demonstrated a strong and accurate arm. Against CMU he was 6 of 11 for 139 yards and threw three touchdown passes. Reynolds became the first Navy quarterback to throw three touchdown passes since Chris McCoy against Colgate in 1997. Wide receiver Brandon Turner (11 rec., 149 yards, 1 TD) caught his first touchdown pass this year last against CMU.
Indiana's defensive tackle Adam Replogle leads the Hoosiers with 41 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. The Hoosiers rank 77th in pass defense allowing 242.7 passing yards per game. The Indiana defense has made 13 sacks and 45 tackles for a loss. If the Hoosiers can force Navy to pass they will have an advantage up front because the Mids can struggle at times in pass protection. Safety Greg Heban has made 35 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and intercepted two passes this season.
Indiana's rushing offense
Navy's rushing defense
Indiana has played Michigan State and Ohio State very tough before losing close games. Their spread passing offense creates running room for their one back sets. Running back Stephen Houston has rushed for 368 yards and six touchdowns on 63 carries. The Hoosiers other back D'Angelo Roberts has carried the ball 50 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana ranks 71st in the country in rushing offense and averages 160 yards per contest. Indiana's 49 points scored last week were the most points an Indiana team has scored against Ohio State in the 86-game series and the most allowed by a Buckeyes team since 1994.
Navy is ranked 74th in the country in stopping the run but that statistic is misleading. The Mids allowed just 70 rushing yards last week against Central Michigan. The Navy defense has given up just 49 points over the last four games. It is the fewest points Navy has allowed over a four-game stretch since 1981. After the struggles this team experienced in the opener you almost want to ask the following question. Who are these guys wearing gold helmets and what have you done with our Midshipmen? Rover Tra'ves Bush had six tackles last week and has played well in run support the past two weeks.
Indiana's passing offense
Navy's passing defense
Quarterback Cameron Coffman, a junior college transfer, has been solid in replacing injured starter Tre Roberson. Coffman has completed 108 of his 172 passes (62.8%) for 1,076 passing yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. Indiana runs a fast paced attack. Wide receiver Shane Wynn is Coffman's favorite target with 31 catches for 294 yards and five touchdowns. Wynn broke free for his second 70-yard touchdown pass of the season, scoring from 76 yards against Ohio State last week. Wide receiver Cody Latimer has 27 catches for 431 yards and two touchdowns. The Hoosiers are 15th in passing offense averaging over 313 passing yards a game while scoring 35.5 points per game. For just the second time in school history the Hoosiers have scored at least 24 points in six straight games in the same season. Indiana had an eye-opening 18 plays for at least 10 yards against Ohio State last week.
Navy made three sacks last game against CMU. The Mids held Central Michigan to 2-of-10 on third down conversions. Senior outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel has been Navy's best defensive player this year. Wetzel has recorded 28 tackles, a team-high 5.5 tackles for a loss and a team-high four sacks. He has also recovered a fumble and broken up a pass. Cornerback Parrish Gaines has played well in his second year as starter. Gaines leads the Mids with 38 tackles and has one interception. The Mids defense has had difficulty defending spread passing teams the last few years.
Mitch Ewald is Indiana's all-time career field goal percentage leader is 36-of- 45 (80%) in his career and a perfect 87-of-87 on extra points. Indiana lost their starting punter Mitchell Voss when he was injured against Michigan State. Red-shirt freshman Erich Toth replaced him and has averaged 41.2 yards on 14 punts. Kick returner Tevin Coleman leads the Big 10 conference with a 28.1 kick return average. Coleman returned a kickoff 96yards for a touchdown against Northwestern. Nick Stoner averages 6.1 yard per punt return. Indiana is solid on their coverage teams.
Navy sophomore punter Pablo Beltran is off to a great start in 2012, averaging 45.5 yards per punt (22 punts). He stands 10th in the country in punting, while Navy is 16th in the country in net punting (40.7). Freshman Nick Sloan is one of just 16 true freshman kickers starting in the FBS this year. He is 6-for-6 on field goals and 13-for-13 on extra-points. He is one of four kickers in the FBS that has yet to miss a kick. Shawn Lynch is averaging 10.7 yards per punt returns. Marcus Thomas has averaged 22.6 on kickoff returns. Navy is below average on their coverage teams.
Kevin Wilson is in his second season as head coach at Indiana. Wilson spent the 2002-10 seasons at Oklahoma, where he served as co-offensive coordinator and position coach. Oklahoma played in seven Big 12 title games in Wilson's nine years, going 6-1 in those appearances. His offenses were vital to accumulating an overall record of 99-24 (.805) during his time in Norman, including seven 10-win seasons. Indiana went 1-11 under Wilson in 2011. This year the offense has been explosive under new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell.
Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo has righted the ship after the Mids opened the season with two losses while being outscored 84-17. Since that time the Mids have won 3-of-4 games. Buddy Green has done a tremendous job with the defense this year. Navy owns a 16-7 (.696) record in games played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under Niumatalolo.
Since 2003, Navy has won 18 games against schools from a BCS conference. The 18 wins against BCS schools during that time period are the most in the country by a non-BCS school. Indiana and Navy will meet for the third time overall and the first time in Annapolis. The Hoosiers won the previous two meetings in 1985 (38-35) and 1986 (52-29).
PREDICTION: Navy, 35-31
Indiana spread passing game may give the Mids some problems but I think the Mids will move the ball at home. Navy's option offense should be able to run the ball very effectively against Indiana at home.
Head-to-head: Navy vs. Indiana
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