Head-to-Head: Navy vs. Troy

The Navy Midshipmen travel to Alabama this weekend to face the Troy Trojans. Navy defeated Florida Atlantic 24-17 with a rather uninspiring but workman like effort last week. The victory made the Midshipmen bowl eligible with their sixth victory. Troy nearly upset Tennessee in a shootout at Neyland Stadium last week.

The Navy Midshipmen travel to Alabama this weekend to face the Troy Trojans. Navy defeated Florida Atlantic 24-17 with a rather uninspiring but workman like effort last week. The victory made the Midshipmen bowl eligible with their sixth victory. Troy nearly upset Tennessee in a shootout at Neyland Stadium last week. The Trojans took a 48-41 lead with 3:14 to play in the game but Tennessee scored two touchdowns to hold them off 55-48.Troy produced over 721 yards of offense. Last year Navy broke its frustrating six game losing streak by beating Troy 42-14 in a rout on Senior Day at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Navy's Rushing Offense
Troy's Rushing Defense
Edge: Navy

Navy's spread option rushing attack has been inconsistent this season. After rolling up 512 rushing yards on the ground against East Carolina the week before the Mids stumbled out of the gate against Florida Atlantic. The Mids were held to 246 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for a career high 159 yards and a touchdown against Florida Atlantic. B-back Noah Copeland found little running room inside as he ran for just 38 yards on ten carries. Navy fans held their collective breaths when Reynolds hurt his left elbow early in the fourth quarter and left the field. Junior quarterback Trey Miller, who seems jinxed lately, fumbled on the mesh exchange with fullback Prentice Christian (151 yards, 4.7 avg., 1 TD in 2012). Reynolds returned the following series. Senior slotback Gee Gee Greene had a quiet game last week but continues to lead Navy in rushing with 529 yards. Fellow slotback Bo Snelson (221 yards, 6.9 avg.) needs to focus on running North-South inside his blocks when he's the pitchback instead of bouncing everything outsides.

Troy stopped using their traditional 4-3 scheme this season and installed a hybrid 3-4-4 scheme. The Trojans play with two defensive tackles, a defensive end and a hybrid linebacker-pass rusher dubbed the bandit. The Trojans rank 72nd in the nation in rush defense. One of Troy's key defensive players, linebacker Kanorris Davis, is doubtful due to vision problems after his eye was injured against Florida Atlantic. Davis, who has 52 tackles this year, missed last week's game against Tennessee. Middle linebacker Brannon Bryan has made 56 tackles this season. Safety Brendan Trawick is active in run support and currently leads the Trojans with 68 tackles. Trawick was named to the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team. He led the league with 123 tackles a season ago and was named to the All-Sun Belt second team.

Navy's Passing Offense
Troy's Passing Defense
Edge: Navy

Navy's freshman Keenan Reynolds continues to impress with his strong, accurate arm. Last week against Florida Atlantic Reynolds completed 8 of 15 throws for 147 yards and two touchdowns. This season Reynolds has completed 35 of his 57 pass attempts (61.4%) for 560 yards with eight touchdowns against just one interception. Slotback Gee Gee Greene (9 rec, 203 yrds, 2 tds) caught a 48 yard touchdown pass against Troy last year. Wide receiver Brandon Turner (15 rec, 212 yrds, 14.1 avg. 3 tds in 2012) caught only two passes but both went for touchdowns.

Troy ranks 113th in the nation in pass defense. The Trojans secondary has struggled the past few years. Defensive end Tony Davis was named to the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team. Davis leads the team with three sacks. The Troy defense has been plagued with injuries this year. Cornerback Bryan Willis had three pass defensed and a fumble recovery against Tennessee.

Troy's Rushing Offense
Navy's Rushing Defense
Edge: Even
Troy ranks 50th in the country in rushing offense averaging over 173 rushing yards per game. The Trojans have improved their rushing game since last year. They use a one back set featuring junior running back Shawn Southward (793, 5.2 avg., 9 TD) who is a very quick, small back. Southward has run for over 100 yards in three games and has posted four multi-touchdown games this season. Dean Anthony (312 yards, 4.7 avg., 4 TDs) has been very productive spelling Southward when he needs a break. D.J. Taylor, a 230 pound bruiser, is used in mostly in short yardage situations. Taylor has rushed for 122 yards (3.5 avg.) and one touchdown this year.

Navy is ranked 67th in the country in rush defense allowing over 163 rushing yards per game. Navy's defense held Florida Atlantic to 118 rushing yards and just a 3.7 rushing average. Outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel is having a tremendous senior season. Wetzel has recorded 45 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, six sacks, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery this season. He leads the Mids in sacks and tackles for a loss. Rover Tra'ves Bush has started 18-consecutive games. Bush leads the team with 53 tackles and has knocked down two passes, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble. Brye French (56 tackles) has moved back into the starting lineup against Florida Atlantic at inside linebacker where he made seven tackles last week.

Troy's Passing Offense
Navy's Passing Defense
Edge: Troy
Troy quarterbacks Corey Robinson and Deon Anthony have split time. Against Tennessee they passed for 496 passing yards and three touchdowns. Robinson finished the game 30-of-46 for 393 yards and a touchdown while the mobile Deon Anthony completed 8-of-12 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Corey Robinson owns the Troy career passing yards, total offense and pass attempts records. Robinson threw for 3,411 passing yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011. This season Robinson has completed 184 of 290 passes for 2,199 yards (63.4%) with 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Troy's pass-happy offense features eight receivers with at least 11 receptions. The leading receiver is senior wide receiver Chip Reeves who missed the 2011 season. The play-making Reeves (47 rec., 804 yards, 17.1 avg., 5 TDs) had a 51-yard touchdown reception against Tennessee. It was his fourth catch of over fifty yards this year. Eric Thomas (44 rec., 521 yards, 11.8 avg., 6 TDs) leads Troy in touchdown receptions. Thomas had a 67-yard touchdown reception against Tennessee. Speedy sophomore Chandler Worthy has 35 catches for 415 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Jaquon Robinson has three touchdown catches this year.

The Mids rank 68th in the nation in pass defense. Sophomore cornerback Parrish Gaines (47 tackles, 2 INTs) has played well this season and had a key interception against Indiana to secure the win. Plebe cornerback Kwazel Bertrand made six tackles and recovered a fumble against Florida Atlantic. Free safety Chris Ferguson made three tackles last week against the Owls after missing three games with an injury.

Special Teams
Edge: Navy
New Troy kicker and punter Will Scott handles both duties. Scott has hit 11 of 15 field goal attempts this year with a long of 52 yards. As a punter Will Scott has averaged 40.5 yards per attempt with 13 punts landing inside the 20-yard line. Scott has nailed five punts longer than fifty yards. Justin Albert has averaged just 7.3 per punt return. Sophomore Chandler Worthy (22.8) is very fast and has the speed to break a long kickoff returns. Troy does an excellent job on coverage teams.

Freshman Nick Sloan is one of just 12 true freshman kickers starting in the FBS this year. He is 8-for-10 on field goals and 28-for-28 on extra-points. Sophomore punter Pablo Beltran is a Ray Guy candidate. He is averaging 44.7 yards per punt on 27 punts this season. Kick returner Marcus Thomas is averaging 23.0 yards on kickoff returns. Punt returns Shawn Lynch (9.6 avg.) has done a great job. Navy has done a solid job on coverage teams.

Edge: Even
Troy head coach Larry Blakeney is one of the most under appreciated coaches in the country. Blakeney has coached at Troy for 22 years, producing an impressive 168-96-1 career record. He has guided the Trojans to 14 winning seasons including six seasons with 10 or more wins. Blakeney began his career in the Trojans' final two seasons in Division II, and then led Troy to seven Division I-AA playoff appearances in eight seasons. In 2001, led Troy through a transition season, moving to Division I-A, finishing with a 7-4 record. He had won or tied for the Sun Belt conference title the last five years before this year's struggles.

After struggling through a 1-3 start head coach Ken Niumatalolo has righted the ship with five straight wins. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green also deserves a ton of credit. After Navy allowed an average of 42 point a game over the two season opening losses, the Mids have rebounded and allowed an average of just 17.7 points over the last seven games.

Edge: Troy
Troy will enter this game needing a win if they probably hope to remain bowl eligible. I don't think the Trojans will experience a letdown after their close loss to Tennessee. They should play with confidence at home and will be looking for payback after last years blowout loss to Navy. The Trojans have a 93-17-1 record at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Mids are confident and are playing at a high level.

PREDICTION: Navy, 35-28. The Mids defense is playing at a very high level to keep Troy in check. Navy should run the ball very effectively like they did last year against Troy.

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