HEAD TO HEAD: NAVY VS. TEXAS STATE

Navy meets Texas State on Saturday in San Marcos, Texas. GoMids.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

The Navy Midshipmen travel to Texas to play the Texas State Bobcats. Navy won the initial meeting between the two schools 21-10 in 2012 at Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium. Last week the Mids beat Temple 31-24 in a game that was much closer than it should have been due to Navy turnovers. It wasn't decided till the final drive when Chris Johnson recovered Brendan McGowan's lateral at the ten yard line to help the Midshipmen hold on for the victory. The Mids out-gained Temple 517 yards to 396 yards but three Navy fumbles led to ten Temple points and kept them in the game Texas State won its opening game this year, crushing Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65-0 on August 31. Last year the Texas State Bobcats posted their second consecutive 6-6 season.

NAVY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
TEXAS STATE PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds has thrown just twelve passes in the first two games. He's completed 6-of-12 passes (50%) for 50 yards.. The Mids have struggled to protect Reynolds against top defensive lines. Navy ranked 123rd in the nation in sacks allowed last year. In 2013, Reynolds completed 68 of 128 passes (53.1%) for 1,057 passing yards with eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Reynolds new wide receivers are Brandon Dudeck and Jamir Tillman. Dudeck hasn't made a catch yet. Wide receiver Jamir Tillman caught three passes for 20 yards against Temple.

The Bobcats run an aggressive 4-2-5 defense under new coordinator John Thompson. Thompson's defense at Arkansas State produced 21 turnovers in 2013. Boundary cornerback Craig Mager (44 tackles, 9 PD) holds down the fort at one cornerback spot. Mager has made 37 consecutive starts. Free safety Colby Targun (54 tackles in 2013) recorded nine tackles against Navy in 2012. The new attacking Texas State defense posted three sacks while shutting out Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Middle linebacker and team captain Michael Orakpo is Texas State's best defender. He earned All-Sun Belt Conference Second-Team honors. Last fall he made 71 tackles, led the team with 4.5 sacks, had 10 tackles for loss of 38 yards and forced three fumbles.

NAVY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
TEXAS STATE RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: Navy's rushing offense is ranked second in the nation. The Mids are averaged 428.5 rushing yards per game. Navy ran for 487 rushing yards, 7.7 yards per carry and four touchdowns against Temple. Last year Navy finished second in the nation in rushing averaging 325.4 rushing yards per game. Keenan Reynolds rebounded from his first pitch against Temple that was battled back and recovered by the Owls for a touchdown. Keenan ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns and scored Navy's first touchdown on a 48-yard touchdown run where he demonstrated an excellent burst and some surprising speed in the open field. The following series he had a 56-yard run to set up Navy's second touchdown. Reynolds left late in the game with a knee injury but he will play Saturday. The B-backs combined for 154 yards against Temple. Noah Copeland carried 12 times for 84 yards Chris Swain had 11 attempts for 70 yards but had a fumble deep in Navy territory. He was bailed out as the defense held the Owl's to a field goal. Slotbacks Ryan Williams-Jenkins (161 yards, 11.5 avg.), Geoffrey Whiteside (104 yards. 9.5 avg., TD) and DE Brandon Sanders (79 yards, 7.9, 2 TDs) have played well.

Texas State's led the Sun Belt in rushing defense allowing 147.4 yards per game last year. That ranked the Bobcats 39th in the country. The strength of the Bobcats are their excellent linebackers. We mentioned middle linebacker Michael Orakpo but the other linebacker is David Mayo (89 tackles, 4 INTs in 2013) who can both fill against the run and drop in space. Texas State did not allow the overmatched FCS opponent Arkansas-Pine Bluff to cross midfield in the second half of the opening game.

TEXAS STATE PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Texas State sophomore quarterback Tyler Jones made seven starts last year and led his team to four victories. He completing 100 of 160 passes (62.5%) threw for 1,130 yards with eight touchdowns against five interceptions. He had a huge first game in the Bobcats new up-tempo offense. The new scheme features three receivers, a tight end and a single back. Jones completed 21 of 25 attempts for 278 yards and four touchdowns versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Texas State compiled a school-record 697 total yards. The top returning wide receiver from last year is Brandon Smith who caught 22 passes for 241 yards and two scores in 2013. Speedy Jafus Gaines had four receptions for 119 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the opener.

Navy was ranked 38th in pass defense last season. The Mids held Temple's P.J. Walker to 29-of-49 (59.2%) for 240 passing yards with two touchdowns passes while picking him off once. Parrish Gaines (1 tackle) made a tremendous interception in the end zone as he bailed out cornerback Quincy Adams who was beat deep on a post pattern. It was his second interception this season. Adams had a busy day with nine tackles and three pass breakups. He "allowed" a touchdown reception to the Owl's Romond Deloatch with just seconds before the end of the first half. Deloatch made a leaping grab through the back of the end zone and initially was ruled out of bounds. The replay official overturned the out of bounds call that was made on the field. It wasn't conclusive and I still don't believe Deloatch had the ball in bounds and dragged his foot but it counted as a Temple touchdown. Defensive end Paul Quessenberry has done a nice job creating pressure and rushing the passer this season.

TEXAS STATE RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: Navy
REMARKS: Texas State spread offense runs mostly a one back set. Robert Lowe ran for 150 yards on 14 carries and one score in the opener. Lowe had 945 rushing yards, a 5.8 average and nine touchdowns last fall. Quarterback Tyler Jones ran 89 times for 257 yards last year. Freshman running back Stedman Mayberry carried the ball 12 times for 54 yards in his first game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Bobcats ran for 378 rushing yards, a 7.6 average and five touchdowns in the opener. Franchione's teams have historically always been effective running the ball.

Navy's rushing defense ranked 79th in the country last year .They allowed 178.8 rushing yards per game. The Mids allowed Temple 156 rushing yards, 4.6 yards a carry and didn't allow a rushing touchdowns. Seventy one of those yards came off scrambles by Temple quarterback PJ Walker. Striker linebacker Chris Johnson (18 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 PD, FR.) is having another terrific season and is making plays all over the field. Johnson recovered Brendan McGowan's lateral at the ten yard line to end the game. Johnson always sees to be in the right place at the right time. Big Bernie Sarra made four tackles against Temple. He did an excellent job holding the point of attack. Sarra stuffed Walker on 4th-and-1 for no gain after a Ryan Williams fumble deep in Navy territory.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: TEXAS STATE
REMARKS: Texas State has outstanding special teams. Brandon Smith was named a preseason All-American kick returner by Phil Steele. Smith was ranked fifth nationally and second in the Sun Belt conference with a 29.9 kickoff return average in 2013. Smith became one of 13 players in NCAA history to return two kickoffs for a touchdown in a single game when he recorded returns of 100 and 92 yards for touchdowns at UL Lafayette. Craig Mager is the punt returner. he had a 35 yard punt return in the opener. Mager recorded the longest punt return in school history with a 79-yard return in 2012. Kicker Jason Dann made nine of his 10 field goal attempts, including all five tries inside 40 yards. Dann hit his only field goal attempt, from 31 yards, in the opener. The punter Will Johnson has a very strong leg. Johnson averaged 44.0 yards on 41 punts, had 10 punts over 50 yards, and placed 19 inside the 20-yard line in 2013. Johnson also had 38 touchbacks on 56 kickoffs last season. Texas State does a very good job covering punts and kickoffs.

Navy kicker Nick Sloan has struggled this year hitting two of four field goal attempts. Sloan's 43-yard miss on the Mids final drive could have iced the game. Sloan hit 10-of-14 field goals last season. Punter Pablo Beltran is averaging 45 yards per punt. Beltran earned honorable mention All-East in 2013. Demond Brown returned four kickoffs for 64 yards and didn't have much running room. DeBrandon Sanders has struggled on punt returns. He's failed to fair catch punts in each game that cost field position and has been ineffective on returns. Demond Brown is averaging just 16.6 on eight kick returns. Austin Grebe has four touchbacks on his ten kickoffs. Navy continues to do an excellent job covering all kicks.

COACHING
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: This is controversial head coach Dennis Franchione second time coaching Texas State. He coached here in 1990-1991 when the school was then known as Southwest Texas State. He followed with head coaching stops at New Mexico, TCU, Alabama where he improved each team but at times had controversial exits. After Alabama was placed under NCAA sanctions he left for Texas A&M. His team struggled and he had to resign after a newsletter scandal. Franchione is a good coach those teams always know how to run the ball. This off season he installed an uptemp offense and hired a new defensive coordinator. He has a 204-121-2 career record and is 30-29 record at Texas State.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo is in his seventh season at Navy. He's led the Midshipmen to a 50-31 (.617) career record and stands tied for second all-time in Navy history. Offensive coordinator Ivan Jasper saw his unit rush for 487 yards in the Mids victory over Temple. It was the 11th highest rushing yards production in school history and the most since rushing for 512 yards against East Carolina in 2012. Buddy Green's defense can struggle against accurate passer who can throw with accuracy underneath and on out patterns.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Texas State fans and players will be pumped up for the home game after their beat down of FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff . The Bobcats should draw well for this game against Navy. This is a homecoming for many Navy players. The Midshipmen have 19 players on its roster from Texas. It's the state that has produced the largest number of Navy players.

PREDICTION: NAVY 38, Texas State 21. Navy is due to play a complete game. Texas State has an athletic run defense and some ability on offense but they aren't as talented as the Midshipmen. Navy has produced over 907 yards of offense despite losing an uncharacteristic four fumbles so far this year.

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