HEAD TO HEAD: NAVY VS. TOLEDO

Navy visits Toledo on Saturday. GoMids.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.

Navy Midshipmen travels to Ohio to face the Toledo Rockets this Saturday. Last week the Mids (3-2) were dominated by the Duke Blue Devils 35-7 in North Carolina. Toledo's (3-3) high powered offense defeated Western Michigan 47-20 two weeks ago at home. Toledo running back David Fluellen ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the easy win. Toledo leads the all-time series with Navy 2-1.

NAVY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
TOLEDO RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: Navy's option offense stumbled last week against Duke. The Mids ran for 230 rushing yards, a 4.6 average and scored just one touchdown. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds has rushed 97 times for 416 yards, a 4.3 average and 7 scores this year. Reynolds has done an excellent job distributing the ball. Fullback Chris Swain ran 10 times for a hard earned 61 yards against Duke. All the top four slotbacks in the rotation- Darius Staten (10.4), Geoffrey Whiteside (10.6), DeBrandon Sanders (9.2), Marcus Thomas (13.3)- are averaging over nine yards a carry. The offensive line has struggled with its consistency since breaking in two new starters due to injuries.

Toledo's 4-3 defense is ranked 43rd in the nation against the run. They are allowing just over 142 rushing yards a game. Will linebacker Junior Sylvestre leads the much improved Rockets defense in tackles with 59. Sophomore linebacker Trent Voss has made 46 tackles with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Both linebackers are athletic with excellent range and speed. Mike linebacker Chase Murdock has been in 43 tackles, six tackles for a loss and three sacks. The youthful interior of the Toledo defense includes sophomore defensive tackle Orion Jones (6-2, 285) and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Treyvon Hester (6-3, 290). The Rockets are ranked 12th nationally in turnovers produced with fifteen.

NAVY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
TOLEDO PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: Keenan Reynolds has completed 26 of 44 passes (59.1%) for 467 passing yards with two touchdowns and an interception this year. DeBrandon Sanders has replaced Gee Gee Greene as Reynolds top slot back receiver. Sanders has seven receptions for 153 yards, a 21.9 average and a touchdown. Starting wide receivers Casey Bolena (6 rec., 81 yards,, 13.5 avg.) and Matt Aiken (4 rec., 56 yards, 14.0 avg.) had trouble getting separation against Duke's cornerbacks last week. Navy's offensive line which lost two starters, Graham Vickers to a career ending concussion and Thomas Stone to a knee injury against WKU, struggled in pass protection the last three games. Duke sacked Reynolds twice but they would have had at least three more sacks if he wasn't so elusive.

Toledo's pass defense is ranked 90th in the nation and is allowing 254 passing yards per game. Senior defensive end Jayrone Elliott has been able to generate pressure off the edge with a team leading five sacks. Free safety Chaz Whittaker has posted 25 tackles with two interceptions. Strong safety Ross Madison also has 25 tackles and picked off a pass. Toledo had trouble the last two years against high powered MAC passing offenses. Junior cornerback Cheatham Norrils (74 tackles, 2 interceptions in 2012), was a third-team all-conference pick last fall.

TOLEDO RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: TOLEDO
REMARKS: Toledo's three receiver, one back offense is led by outstanding senior running back David Fluellen. Fluellen has rushed for 846 yards and nine touchdowns on 129 carries. He is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and is fifth in the nation averaging 141 rushing yards per game. Fluellen ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns during his last game against Western Michigan. In 2012 Fluellen ran for over 200 yards in three games despite missing time last year with injuries. For the season Fluellen ran for 1,498 yards and 12 touchdowns. While the running game revolves around the physical Fluellen, the Rockets also mix in change of pace speed backs. Cassius McDowell (137 yards, 8.1 avg.) and redshirt freshmen Damian Jones-Moore (108 yards, 6.4 avg., 2 TDs) are very quick and can make people miss in the open field.

Navy's run defense actually did a solid job against Duke until they wore down in the second half. The Mids allowed 134 rushing yards, 3.6 yards a carry and two rushing touchdown to the Blue Devils. Currently Navy ranks 78th in the nation in run defense. They are allowing 171 rushing yards a game. The big concern of Navy fans entering the season was having to replace so many graduating linebackers. It not only hasn't been a problem but senior inside linebackers Cody Peterson (48 tackles, 2 TFL and a sack) and D.J. Sargenti (43 tackles, 2.5 TFL and 1 sack) have played very well. Outside linebacker Chris Johnson has made a tremendous recovery from ACL surgery. Johnson has 33 tackles, 3 interceptions and two break ups. His speed and athleticism allows him to plays all over the field.

TOLEDO PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: TOLEDO
REMARKS: The Rockets lefty quarterback Terrance Owens has completed 103 of 169 pass attempts (60.9%) for 999 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions this year. Owens started last year when he threw for 2,707 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. Owens is mobile and can throw on the move. Toledo's best receiver is senior Bernard Reedy who has 43 catches for 413 yards and two touchdowns. Last year Reedy has 89 catches for 1,105 yards and six touchdowns. Big wide receiver Alonzo Russell has 30 receptions for 384 yards and three touchdowns. The Toledo offensive line is one of the best in the nation. Toledo is the top ranked team in the country for the fewest sack allowed. They have allowed just three sacks in six games. Senior center Zac Kerin was a First team All-MAC selection last year. Navy allowed Duke quarterback Anthony Boone to complete 31 of 38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns last game. The Mids are currently ranked 62nd in the nation versus the pass. Navy's national pass ranking doubled after the Duke game. The Mids ranked 31st in the nation before the Duke game. Buddy Green's defense has struggled against the type of wide open passing attack that Toledo offers.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: TOLEDO
REMARKS: Toledo has the best special teams in the MAC. Kicker Jeremiah Detmer earned second-team All-MAC honors last fall. Detmer has hit 11 of 12 field goals this year. He has produced 25 touchbacks on 37 kickoffs. Punter Vince Penza has averaged 42.6 on 28 punts while pinning 14 opponents inside the 20-yard line. The dangerous and explosive Bernard Reedy is averaging 25.2 yards on kick returns and 5.7 yards on punt returns this year. He returned three kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns in 2012. The Toledo coverage units have allowed a few fairly long punt returns but have done a nice job covering kickoffs. Navy kicker Nick Sloan has hit three of five field goals this season after missing an attempt against Duke. Punter Pablo Beltran earned ECAC special teams player of the week last game. He is averaging 45.8 yards per punt on his 16 punts with six downed inside the 20-yard line. Marcus Thomas is averaging 19.0 yards per kickoff return. Punt returner Shawn Lynch is averaging 7.5 per punt return. The coverage teams, which had been great, struggled through a rough game against Duke.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: TOLEDO
REMARKS: Toledo and Navy have faced each other just three times with the Rockets winning two- of- three contests. Toledo has to like the match ups against the Mids secondary. Navy will be out looking for revenge after a poor showing last week. Navy is 16-9 all-time against teams that are currently in the Mid-American Conference.

COACHING
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: At 33-years-old, Matt Campbell is one of the nation's youngest coaches. He took over after Tim Beckman left for Illinois and led the Rockets to a bowl victory against Air Force in 2011. He went 10-4 last year. As offensive coordinator in 2011 his Rockets averaged over 42 point per game. Don't be fooled by the .500 2013 record. The three teams Toledo has lost to this season are a collective 16-3.

Ken Niumatalolo was worried about a letdown after the win over rival Air Force; unfortunately it occurred. It was one of those days when virtually nothing went right. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper needs to get his offensive line performing at a higher level. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green's bend-but-don't-break defensive scheme has struggled trying to defend wide open spread passing attacks.

PREDICTION: Toledo, 35-24. I don't believe the Mids are ready to win this one of the road with their offensive line struggling. The Rockets have been explosive and pose matchup problems for the Mids back defensive seven.

MidsDaily.com Top Stories