Navy Report Card: VMI

Navy dominated VMI 51-14 on Saturday in Annapolis. GoMids.com's Jim Lawler grades the Mids performance in several key team areas.

The Navy Midshipmen dominated the overmatched FCS division VMI Keydets 51-14 on Saturday at home. Navy needed the win after dropping their previous three games. Navy produced 432 yards of total offense which included 350 rushing yards on the ground. The Mids defense dominated the Keydets. They held VMI to four first downs and just 86 yards in the first half. VMI's only score in the first half was on a fumble return. VMI added a touchdown with 14 seconds left in the game. Navy's starters left after three quarters with the score 44-7. Tago Smith started at quarterback in place of the injured Keenan Reynolds. Navy had a chance to go deep into the depth chart and give plenty of Mids the opportunity to play. Navy's record improved to 3-4 and they are off this week.

PASSING OFFENSE: B-
Navy quarterback Tago Smith completed 3-of-5 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Smith first pass attempt, a play after his 70 yard touchdown run was nullified by a penalty, was tipped at the line by VMI's Logan Staid and fell incomplete. Smith had to scramble away from pressure and threw the ball away on his second attempt.

Smith was able to run the two minute drill when Navy took over at the 50 following a bad VMI punt with just 1:31 left in the first half. Smith hit Jamir Tillman for 34-yards to the VMI 16. It was a nice throw and catch in coverage. The next play Smith hit, off a waggle action roll out, fullback Noah Copeland for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Smith's last pass was a 32-yard completion to Geoffrey Whiteside which set up Tago's two yard touchdown run. Tago's pass was off the mark and Whiteside had to reach back and fell making the catch. The positive was that Smith put some air under the ball allowing Whiteside to adjust to the ball and pull it in.

Third string quarterback Will Worth telegraphed his only pass attempt and never saw VMI's Chris Copeland who picked off the throw. The nice two minute drive gives the passing offense a B- grade.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A
Navy ran for 352 rushing yards, 7.2 yards per carry and five rushing touchdowns. Tago Smith did a nice job running the offense as he ran nine times for 24 yards and a touchdown. Smith fumbled once when VMI nose tackle Joe Nelson burst untouched through the A-gap and force a fumble which was recovered in the end zone for a VMI touchdown. Smith lost a 70-yard touchdown run because of a Jamir Tillman hold.

The B-back Noah Copeland led all Navy runners with 107 yards on eight carries with a touchdown. He opened the scoring with a 64-yard touchdown run on Navy's first drive. Fullback Chris Swain had 11 carries for 58 yards. DeBrandon Sanders (4 att. for 46 yards) ripped off a 25-yard run to set up a touchdown. Slotback Dishan Romine (2 for 47) demonstrated why he is considered the fastest of all the Navy slotbacks on a 47-yard run. Geoffrey Whiteside (3 for 8) scored a four yard touchdown run. Third string fullback Quinton Singleton (4 for 21, TD) had a 14-yard touchdown run. Third string quarterback Will Worth (3 for 10, TD) closed the scoring with his first career touchdown run.

The Navy offensive line played without both first and second string centers. Bradlyn Heap moved over from left tackle and handled the center position where he had played at NAPS. Blake Copeland replaced him at left tackle. Except for the play were VMI forced a fumble, when the offensive line fanned on VMI's Nelson, the Mids line dominated.

PASSING DEFENSE: A
The Mids secondary allowed just two passing first downs in the first half. VMI’s redshirt freshman quarterback Al Cobb completed 26 of 40 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Cobb threw underneath the Navy defense and completed passes but had trouble moving the ball and sustaining any offense. Brandon Clements (4 tackles) blew up bubble screen in first quarter to force punt. Inside linebacker Daniel Gonzalez (8 TT, QH) tackled Dane Forlines short of the first down in the first quarter to force a punt. Parrish Gaines jumped a route in the first half and picked off Cobb returning the interception 39-yards for a touchdown. Quincy Adams made two tackles and broke up a pass. Navy recorded their first two sacks since the opener against Ohio State. VMI didn't score until there were 14 seconds left in the game playing against Navy's third string.

RUSHING DEFENSE: A+
The Mids held VMI to 60 rushing yards, 2.0 yards a carry and no touchdowns. The Keydets longest run was 13-yards. Will Anthony (3 TT, 1/2 Sack) and Chris Johnson (2 TT) teamed up to stuff Derrick Ziglar on the opening series third -and-one for no gain and force a punt. Inside linebacker Jordan Drake posted five tackles. It was nice to see some of the players from NAPS who have been backups get a chance to play.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Punter Pablo Beltran had three punts and averaged 43.3 yards. He hit one 48 yards and placed a punt inside the twenty yard line. New Navy kicker Austin Grebe hit all seven of his extra points. He had two touchbacks on his seven kickoffs. Gavin Jernigan booted his only kickoff out of bounds. Demond Brown had a 29-yard kickoff return. Jamir Tillman had a nice hit on a punt return. Navy's Berrie Sarra blocked a field goal attempt. Navy played so many backups that their kickoff coverage was quite as stellar as usual. VMI gave up a safety when a snap sailed over the punter's head and he kicked it out of his own end zone.

COACHING: A
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said it best, "A win is a win and wins are hard to come by. You take them any way you can." More than anything else the Mids needed to break the losing streak. Both coordinators got a chance to see plenty of backups in game situations.

OVERALL GRADE: A
Navy needed a win after the bitter loss to Air Force. They played well on both side of the ball and gave plenty of backups a chance to get on the field.

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