Head-to-head: Navy vs. Florida Atlantic

Navy returns home to play the Florida Atlantic Owls after a 56-28 blowout victory over East Carolina. Last week the Florida Atlantic Owls won their first Sun Belt Conference game under new head coach Carl Pelini.

Navy returns home to play the Florida Atlantic Owls after a 56-28 blowout victory over East Carolina. Last week the Florida Atlantic Owls won their first Sun Belt Conference game under new head coach Carl Pelini. Senior quarterback Graham Wilbert connected with sophomore wide receiver Williams Dukes on a 22-yard touchdown pass with just 17 seconds left to give the Owls a 34-27 victory over Troy. This will be the first meeting between the two programs.

Navy's Rushing Offense
Florida Atlantic's Rushing Defense
Edge: Navy
After struggling early in the season Navy's running game looks to be back on track. The Mids rolled up 512 rushing yards on the ground against East Carolina. After the huge performance they are ranked a more Navy like sixth in the nation in rushing and are averaging 271 rushing yards a game. Senior slotback Gee Gee Greene led the attack while rushing for a career high 131 yards. Plebe quarterback Keenan Reynolds won his third straight game as he ran for 81 yards and three touchdowns. Fullback Noah Copeland (426 yards, 4.4 per carry, 2 TDs) also scored a touchdown against the Pirates. The blowout win allowed Copeland's 2010 NAPS backfield mates Geoffrey Whiteside (55 yards rushing, 1 TD catch) and Ryan Williams-Jenkins who showed his blazing speed on a 33-yard touchdown the chance to shine.

Florida Atlantic's defense doesn't yet resemble the Nebraska Blackshirts defense that Carl Pelini used to coach. The Owls have struggled against the run this season. Florida Atlantic are allowing 31.1 points per game and are ranked 98th in the nation against the run. The Owls play a base 4-3 defense. The defense is led by senior linebacker David Hinds. He has made 68 tackles this year after posting 101 tackles last year. New middle linebacker Adarius Glanton has made 52 tackles with one sack and an interception he returned for a touchdown against Georgia. Starting freshman defensive tackle Trevon Coley is a mini Fridge Perry. Coley is used as a blocker in FAU's wildcat formation against Troy. Coley had four tackles in the win over Troy, including being credited with half a sack.

Navy's Passing Offense
Florida Atlantic's Passing Defense
Edge: Navy
After Keenan Reynolds threw an interception he rallied to throw two touchdown passes against East Carolina. Reynolds had touchdown passes to Casey Bolena (15 yards) and another 20 yard touchdown pass to Geoffrey Whiteside. Reynolds has completed 27 of 42 passes for 413 yards (64.3%) with six touchdowns and one interception this season. Reynolds' unflappable poise and command in the pocket while passing continues to impress. Gee Gee Greene leads Navy with two touchdown receptions and an average of 22.6 yards on nine catches.

The Florida Atlantic's secondary is led by senior strong safety Brent Harstad who leads the team with 71 tackles. Harstad has recorded back-to-back 15 tackle games. Harstad, free safety Jeremy Mcknight and cornerback D'Joun Smith help the Owls secondary rank third in the Sun Belt conference in pass defense. They are allowing 211.9 passing yards per game. Smith is fourth in the league in passes defended and has one of the team's four interceptions. Florida Atlantic's secondary has combined to break up 16 passes and deflect 20 more, with both categories led by Smith. Defensive end Corey Henry leads the Owls with two sacks.

Florida Atlantic's Rushing Offense
Navy's Rushing Defense
Edge Navy
Florida Atlantic's three receiver one-back offense uses a running back by committee approach. Junior Jonathan Wallace leads the team with 382 rushing yards on 96 carries with two scores. Wallace (6-1, 210) is a nice combination of quickness and power. Wallace led the Owls in rushing with 87 yards on 24 carries in the win over Troy. Damian Fortner has rushed for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Tiny Martese Jackson (5-6, 165) is used as a change of pace back. Jackson has run for 216 yards, averaged 4.8 yards per carry with a touchdown. The Owl's offensive line isn't that big or physical.

Navy ranks 73rd in the nation in run defense. The Mids allowed three rushing touchdown against the Pirates last week. Inside linebackers Brye French made seven tackles against ECU. Rover Tra'ves Bush made nine tackles and leads the Mids with 53 tackles. Navy's defensive front matches up well against the Owl's undersized offensive line.

Florida Atlantic's Passing Offense
Navy's Passing Defense
Edge: Navy
Two year starting quarterback Graham Wilbert had one of his best games last week in the victory over Troy. Wilbert completed 26-of-40 passes for 261 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Wilbert is a drop back passer without a lot of mobility. This year Wilbert has completed 160 of his 245 pass attempts (65.3%) for 1,570 passing yards with12 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Owls lack big-play ability in their receiving corps. Sophomore Willie Dukes (34 rec., 480 yards, 14.1 avg., 2 TDs) leads the team in receptions. Junior tight end Nexon Dorvilus leads the team with four touchdown catches among his 21 receptions. The Owl smallish offensive line struggles to protect Wilbert and is ranked 90th in the nation in sacks allowed percentage.

Navy's secondary limited a hot ECU passing attack to just 194 passing yards. Matt Warrick had six stops and picked off his team high third interception of the season. Senior linebacker Keegan Wetzel had another big game with nine tackles and two sacks. Wetzel leads the Mids with six sacks. Cornerback Kwazel Bertrand started and played well with four tackles and two pass defensed. Safety Wave Ryder contributed eight tackles. The Mids are ranked 80th in pass defense.

Special Teams
Edge: Navy

Florida Atlantic placekicker Mitch Anderson has hit just 4 of 8 field goal attempts. Freshman punter Sean Kelly had a rough game against Troy but is averaging 40.2 yards on 43 punts. He has ten punts over 50 yards. The Owl's return and coverage teams are average.

Kicker Nick Sloan made all eight of his extra points last game and remains one of only two kickers who has not missed a field goal or an extra point attempt this season. Navy's sophomore punter Pablo Beltran is averaging 45.1 yards per punt. Marcus Thomas is averaging 23.0 yards on his kickoff returns. Shawn Lynch has returned ten punts for a 9.6 average. After struggling much of last season, the coverage teams have been excellent so far this year. Colin Amerau has hit 13 touchbacks on his 39 kickoffs.

Edge: Navy

New head coach Carl Pelini took over Florida Atlantic from the retired Howard Schnellenberger who built the program from the ground up over the past eleven years. It all crashed with a 1-11 season for the Owls last fall. The team was winless in the Sun Belt Conference. Carl Pelini was the former defensive coordination at Nebraska serving under his brother Bo Pelini. The Owls were one of the worst offensive teams in football in 2011 and allowed 34.7 point per game on defense. It will take a couple of years for Pelini to upgrade the roster by recruiting the bountiful local Florida talent.

Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo has done a tremendous job as the Mids have won five of their last six games with so many underclassmen contributing. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper countered ECU defense which had slowed down Navy's option attack last year. With the Pirate safeties running the pitch alley Jasper assigned a blocker and ran misdirection against them. Jasper's play calling helped the Mids roll up 56 points and 563 total yards against East Carolina.

Edge: Navy
This is the first meeting between these two programs. The Mids have played at a very high level since their victory over Air Force. Keenan Reynolds has this team believing in him after his third straight victory since he was named starter. Florida Atlantic comes in after playing its best football of the season in gaining its first conference win. Carl Pelini is an intense coach and will have his team ready to go.

PREDICTION: Navy, 45-17. Navy is hitting on all cylinders and should roll against the Owls defense. Navy's defense matches up well against this rebuilding offense which lacks size and speed.

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