Navy visits San Jose State on Friday night. GoMids.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.
The Navy Midshipmen travel out west to meet the San Jose Spartans (5-5) in a Friday night nationally televised matchup. Last week the Mids (6-4) dominated South Alabama 42-14 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Senior Day. San Jose State enters the game following a 38-16 loss at Nevada. San Jose State has defeated Navy in each of the past two years.
NAVY PASSING OFFENSE
SAN JOSE STATE PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Keenan Reynolds has completed 59 of 108 passes (54.6%) for 982 passing yards for seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Keenan had his second best passing yardage total this season as he threw for 168 yards against South Alabama. Reynolds has thrown touchdown passes in each of the last five games. Reynolds hit Matt Aiken (7 rec.,140 ysrds, 20.0 YPC, 2 TD) for a 45-yard touchdown pass last week. Casey Bolena (12 rec., 145 yards, 12.1 avg.) leads the Mids in receptions. Center Tanner Fleming is questionable for the game due to a concussion.
San Jose State ranks 77th in the nation in pass defense and 97th in total defense. Cornerback Bene Benwikere is a tremendous player. He's picked off five passes and broken up 10 more passes on the year. Free safety Forrest Hightower (55 tackles, INT) was moved from cornerback to safety this year. He is physical and likes to hit. Outside linebacker Eugene Taylor has posted a team high four sacks. San Jose State doesn't rush the passer the way they did last season since the graduation of Travis Johnson.
NAVY RUSHING OFFENSE
SAN JOSE STATE RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Navy's rushing offense is ranked fifth in the nation while averaging 311 yards per game. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds (884 rushing yards, 4.1 avg., 19 TDs) has done a tremendous job running the offense. Reynolds is second in the nation in rushing touchdowns. Keenan Reynolds has a 12-6 record as Navy's starting quarterback. Navy's B-back position has been impacted by injuries. Both fullbacks Noah Copeland (226 yards, TD) and Chris Swain (373 yards, 4 TDs) are questionable for Friday's game. Quinton Singleton (242 yards, 5.0 avg., 2 TDs) has been effective when used filling in for the starters. Plebe B-back Shawn White ran six times for 34 yards and a touchdown last week. On White's seven yard touchdown run he showed great strength as he carries the Jaguars defense into the end zone. Slotback Darius Staten ran for a career high 127 yards and a touchdown against South Alabama.
San Jose State 3-4 defense is ranked 99th in the nation against the run. It's a far cry from the team that shutout the Mids last season and allowed just 70 net rushing yards. San Jose State has done a terrific job defending Navy's rushing attack the past two years but this is a new defensive staff. Senior inside linebacker Keith Smith is one of the top linebackers in the nation. He was a first-team and two-time second-team All-WAC linebacker. Smith missed the Navy game last year. He was a four year starter who has led the Spartans in tackles every year. Smith has 454 career tackles to his name. This year he has recorded 137 tackles and made eight tackles for a loss. Two freshmen Christian Tago (74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.) and Moses Saucedo (23 tackles) split time at the other inside linebacker spot. Junior defensive tackle Travis Raciti is big, fast and strong. He has 33 tackles with four tackles for loss and two sacks this year.
SAN JOSE STATE PASSING OFFENSE
NAVY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: SAN JOSE STATE
REMARKS: The Spartans are 11th in the country in passing offense. They are averaging over 325 passing yards per game. NFL quarterback prospect David Fales has completed 233-of-386 of his passes (60.4%) for 3,202 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Last season he had an amazing year finishing third in the nation in passing efficiency completing 73 percent of his passes for 4,193 passing yards and 33 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. Fales can flat out throw the ball and is very accurate. Fales lost talented wide receiver Noel Grigsley (9 TDs in 2012) to an injury but he has a terrific big play target in wide receiver Chandler Jones. Jones has 64 receptions for 1,109 yards, a 17.3 average and 11 touchdowns. He is an excellent route runner with good speed. Freshman Tyler Winston has replaced Grigsley at wide receiver. Winston has 38 catches for 608 yards, a 16.0 average and two touchdowns. At tight end redshirt freshman Billy Freeman is an athletic H-back type receiver. Freeman has 24 receptions for 396 yards, a 16.5 average and two touchdowns. Running back Tim Crawley is an effective third down back on passing downs with 19 receptions for 152 and two touchdowns. The San Jose State offensive line is ranked 14th in the nation in pass protection.
Navy is ranked 27th in pass defense. The Mids are allowing a high completion percentage (69.7%) but less than 210 passing yards a game. Last year against Fales they had a similar game with him completing 29-of-34 passes for 276 yards but he threw no touchdown passes. The Mids picked him off once and sacked Fales three times. It was the only game last year where Fales failed to throw a touchdown pass. Free safety Parrish Gaines (55 tackles, 2 INT) led the team with 12 tackles last year against the Spartans when he played cornerback. Chris Johnson's (66 tackles, 3 INTs) athleticism at linebacker gives Navy the equivalent of five defensive backs in coverage. Myer Krah earned his first start in place of the injured Kwazel Bertrand. Krah played well making three tackles, forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass. Bertrand is questionable for Friday's game.
SAN JOSE STATE RUSHING OFFENSE
NAVY RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: San Jose State ranks 99th in the nation in rushing. They average just over 201 yards a game.
Freshman running back Jarrod Lawson leads the Spartans rushing attack with 646 yards and three touchdowns on 124 carries for a 5.2 average. San Jose rotates in senior Jason Simpson (262 yards, 4.4 avg., 2 TDs) and freshman scatback Tim Crawley (219 yards, 4.3 avg., TD). Fullback Shane Smith is used almost exclusively as a lead blocker. Quarterback David Fales is strictly a drop back pocket passer. The offensive line has produced just a 3.8 yards per carry average and only eight rushing touchdowns.
Navy's rushing defense allowed the Jaguars just 120 rushing yards, 3.3 yards a carry and no rushing touchdowns last week. It was one of the best performances for a unit ranked just 91st against the run. Senior inside linebacker Cody Peterson (106 tackles, 4.5 TFL and a sack) has been a tackling machine all season. Nose guard Travis Bridges (16 tackles, FF) has moved into the starting lineup with the injury to Bernie Sarra. Sarra will miss his third straight game this week. DJ Sargenti (79 tackles, 4 TFL and 1 sack) has been a huge plus this season after moving to inside linebacker from playing outside linebacker. The Midshipmen held what was a superior Spartan rushing attack last year to just 108 rushing yards, no touchdowns and a 2.6 yards per carry average.
REMARKS: San Jose State sophomore kicker Austin Lopez is one of the top kickers in the nation. He's made 19 of his 23 field goal attempts and all his extra point attempts. Lopez is second in the country in field goals per game, averaging 1.9 per contest. San Jose State have an excellent punter in Harrison Waid. Waid has averaged 42.9 per punt and has placed 12 punts inside the twenty yard line. He has produced 29 touchbacks on 59 kickoffs. Tim Crawley handles both kickoffs (18.6 avg.) and punt (5.4 avg.) returns. The Spartan coverage units are below average.
Navy kicker Nick Sloan has hit 7- of -10 field goals this season. Sloan has missed three extra points. Sloan has hit both his field goal attempts from 37 and 21 yards against South Alabama. Punter Pablo Beltran is averaging 42.3 yards per punt on his 31 punts with ten downed inside the twenty yard line. Marcus Thomas is averaging 21.6 yards per kickoff return. Punt returner Shawn Lynch is producing 5.6 yards per punt return. Navy's coverage teams have been outstanding this season.
EDGE: SAN JOSE STATE
REMARKS: San Jose State should be confident since they have defeated Navy in each of the past two years. They are motivated being one victory away from bowl eligibility. The Spartan are looking to record back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1986 and 1987. Flying over 2,800 miles cross country to play on a Friday night is no easy task for the Mids. Navy will be looking for some payback after the last two years.
REMARKS: Ken Niumatalolo moved past his mentor Paul Johnson into third place on the Navy football coaching all time wins list last Saturday. Niumatalolo has led the Midshipmen to a 46-30 record in his six seasons as the head coach. The team played very well on Senior Day. It was a huge effort against a team that had lost five games by just a total twelve points. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper took apart the South Alabama defense once he saw how they were pinching inside. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green's defense played its best all-around game in weeks.
San Jose State's new head coach is Ron Caragher. He replaced Mike MacIntyre who left for Colorado after leading the Spartans to an 11-2 record and a victory in the Military Bowl. Caragher has a record of 5-5 with the Spartans in his first season. His posted a 49-27 record as a head coach at the University of San Diego.
PREDICTION: Navy 38-28. I think this will be a lot more wide open than last year's game. Fales will move the ball but I think Navy has improved since the last meeting while the Spartans have taken a step back. San Jose State had success under the previous staff of attacking Navy's running game. Reynolds is a lot better quarterback than Scott Proctor or Trey Miller. He will make the Spartans pay.