The Navy Midshipmen beat Texas State 35-21 with back-up quarterback Tago Smith filling in for an injured Keenan Reynolds. The Midshipmen had 469 total yards, including 352 rushing yards, before the second largest crowd in Texas State's history. Smith rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 117 yards and Navy's first two passing touchdowns this season. The Mids record improved to 2-1 while Texas State drops to 1-1.
PASSING OFFENSE: B+
Navy quarterback Tago Smith completed 5- of- 7 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. Smith threw the ball well except for one pass which was under-thrown and picked off.
Brendan Dudeck (2 for 9) caught a 6-yard touchdown pass off a play action pass. Dudeck was knocked out of bounds before he could get his foot down on Smith's first pass attempt. Tago badly under threw a pass intended for Dudeck that was picked off. Thomas Wilson caught Smith's first completion for 22-yards. Smith threw the ball well on the move and Wilson made a sliding catch. It was an interesting connection between a quarterback who was recruited as a slotback finding a wide receiver who was recruited as a quarterback.
Geoffrey Whiteside caught a pass for 19 yards. He had a step on two defenders and appeared heading for a touchdown but stumbled after reaching back for the ball and fell at the 5-yard-line setting up Smith's first touchdown run. Smith hit wide receiver Jamir Tillman for 67-yard touchdown pass when the Bobcats aggressive defense starting firing their cornerbacks. Tillman had enough speed to outrace the Bobcat secondary for the score. It was the longest touchdown pass for Navy since 2010 when Ricky Dobbs connected with John Howell on a 77-yard bomb against Army. The Mids offensive line allowed two sacks.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A
Navy ran for 352 rushing yards, 6.3 yards per carry and three touchdowns. Tago Smith (27 att. for 85 yards, 2 TD) showed off his quick feet and top end speed at quarterback with a 27-yard run on third and long on a quarterback draw. Smith made generally smart decisions with the ball and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper didn't ask too much of him and kept it simple.
The B-backs had their second consecutive productive game as they combined for 190 rushing yards. Noah Copeland led all Navy runners with 116 yards on eleven carries. He ripped off a career long 63-yard run to open the third quarter. Chris Swain had 10 rushes for 68 yards and scored. His brute strength was seen on his 21-yard run that would have made Bronco Nagurski proud and he ran through a number of tackles. With Smith making his first start the Mids were conservative with no speed pitches. The slotbacks carried the ball just five times.
Slotback Geoffrey Whiteside (2 for 40) ripped off a 38-yard run as he accounted for 57 yards on a touchdown drive. Senior Ryan Williams-Jenkins had a carry for 6-yards and a nice block on Whiteside's long run. Jamir Tillman had 24-yards on a reverse which set up a score. Toneo Gulley had one carry for six yards. DeBrandon Sanders left the game with an injury which is a concern moving forward. The Navy offensive line played well with Texas State loading the box against Smith at quarterback and there were no fumbles.
PASSING DEFENSE: B
The Mids secondary had some difficulty slowing down Tyler Jones in the in the fourth quarter as Texas State outscored Navy 21-7 in the second half. Jones completed 24-of-36 (66.7%) for 231 passing yards with a touchdowns pass while picking him off once.
Inside linebacker James Britton (5 tackles) had a key interception which he returned 17-yard to set up Navy's fourth touchdown. Parrish Gaines led all Navy defenders with seven tackles. He made a nice tackle in space against Franks that forced a punt. Safety Kwazel Bertrand was in on five tackles and limited any big plays over his head. Navy cornerback Brandon Clements (5 tackles, PD ) had nice coverage to force a punt on the opening series of the second half. Cornerback Quincy Adams made four tackles and knocked down a pass.
It was funny seeing 303-pound nose guard Bernie Sarra (1 tackle) in a zone blitz trying to cover Terrence Franks on his 12-yard touchdown reception. The Mids did what they wanted to do in Buddy Green's system with the big lead. They avoided allowing the big play and made the Bobcats offense earn it.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C
The Mids allowed Texas State 211 rushing yards, 4.8 yards a carry and two rushing touchdowns. Inside linebacker Jordan Drake made seven tackles. Inside linebacker Daniel Gonzales (6 tackles) is a very active linebacker who should develop into an outstanding starter. He's usually in the right place at the right time. He almost had an interception but was run over by Big Bernie Sarra.
Defensive end Will Anthony (6 tackles) did a great job beating blocks all night and helping the run defense. Chris Johnson (5 tackles, TFL) dropped Jafus Gaines for a 5-yard loss on the opening series to force a three and out. Paul Quessenberry (4 tackles, PD) stopped Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones on a fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter to turn the ball back to the offense.
Navy had some trouble defended the freeze option reads but the early lead, and the Bobcat penalties gave them plenty of cushion to hold them off.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Punter Pablo Beltran made two punts and averaged 42-yards. He hit on 47-yard out of his own end zone and placed one punt inside the 20 yard line. Navy kicker Nick Sloan hit all his extra points. Parrish Gaines fielded a punt for a four yard return. DeBrandon Sanders had a one yard punt return before his injury. Navy did a great job on kick coverage with Toneo Gulley making two special teams tackles. Gulley also had a 14-yard kickoff return. Ryan Williams-Jenkins had two kickoff returned for 44-yards. Austin Grebe had three touchbacks on his six kickoffs.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo deserves credit for the tremendous job he's done on the recruiting trail and in developing a deep roster of talent. Tago Smith’s conversion from a NAPS slotback to starting quarterback is an example of great recruiting, player development and coaching. Navy had a quarterback on that same 2012 NAPS team in Kenneth Mouton who was offensive MVP. Mouton could probably compete for Army starting QB job and he's not on Navy's three deep depth chart. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper does a great job of teaching and developing his quarterbacks. He limited Smith's risk and gave him the chance to excel. Buddy's Green's defense stopped Texas State early then limited the big play the rest of the way.
OVERALL GRADE: B
Navy demonstrated their depth in the victory over Texas State. The offense avoided high risk plays and was efficient jumping out to a four score lead. Texas State helped the defense with their own mistakes and penalties. It was a nice road win considering the circumstances.
Navy Report Card: Texas State
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