HEAD TO HEAD: NAVY VS. SAN JOSE STATE

Navy meets San Jose State on Saturday in Annapolis. 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 meet the San Jose Spartans this Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Last week the Mids were off following a much needed victory over VMI. San Jose State enters the game following a 27-20 overtime victory at Wyoming. Navy defeated San Jose State last year 58-52 in a three overtime classic.

NAVY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
SAN JOSE STATE PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: SAN JOSE STATE
REMARKS: Hopefully the two weeks off have helped quarterback Keenan Reynolds get healthy. He has struggled passing the ball this season completing 27 of 62 passes (43.5%) for 462 passing yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions. Keenan hasn't looked like himself since injuring his knee against Temple. He lacks the accuracy that saw him throw 17 touchdowns against only four picks his first two seasons. Jamir Tillman (15 rec., 295 yards, 19.7 avg., TD) leads the Mids in receptions. The Mids better be able to run the ball against the Spartans. Navy ranked dead last in the nation in sack percentage allowed.

San Jose State are the best in the nation in pass defense and 12th total defense. The Spartans have allowed only a 48.4% of the passes against them to be completed with only a single touchdown pass and are giving up just 94.5 passing yards per game. They have been providing top coverage despite the fact they have only five sacks this year. Cleveland Wallace transferred from Washington and won an appeal from the NCAA to play immediately. Wallace has been a lockdown cornerback. He has an interception and has knocked down eight passes. Cornerback Jimmy Pruitt has broken up four passes and forced two fumbles.

NAVY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
SAN JOSE STATE RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: Navy's rushing offense is ranked second in the nation averaging over 342 yards per game. Keenan Reynolds (388 rushing yards, 3.6 avg., 8 TDs) had an amazing game last year against the Spartans setting a new career-high by running for 240 yards. He established an NCAA record with seven rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He was brilliant both in carrying the ball and running the offense. Keenan scored on runs of 12, 3, 38, 20, 25, 7 and 25 yards. Fullback Noah Copeland (532 yards, 8.9 avg., 2 TDs) leads the Mids in rushing. Copeland ripped off a 64-yard touchdown run against VMI on Navy's first drive in the last game.

San Jose State new 4-3 defense is ranked 108th in the nation against the run allowing 218 rushing yards per game but that is a little misleading because they are so hard to pass against. Linebacker Christian Tago leads the Spartans with 54 tackles. Tago (90 tackles, 10.5 for loss in 2013) was named College?Football News All-Freshman Team honorable mention. Senior Vince Buhagiar, an all-conference player in 2012 missed all of last season due to injury. Buhagiar has posted 43 tackles and forced a fumble. Senior defensive tackle Travis Raciti is big, fast and strong. He has 33 tackles and a sack this year.

SAN JOSE STATE PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: SAN JOSE STATE
REMARKS: The Spartans are 61st in the country in passing offense. They are averaging over 229 passing yards per game. Joe Gray has replaced David Fales who is now on the practice squad of the Chicago Bears. Gary has completed 91-of-131 of his passes (69.5 %) for 930 passing yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The Spartan’s leading wide receiver is all-conference sophomore Tyler Winston (58 for 858, 5 TDs in 2013). Winston leads the Spartans with 43 catches for 398 yards and four touchdowns. Hansell Wilson has 16 receptions for 234 yards and two scores. The Spartan offensive line has three new starters and has allowed eleven sacks.

Navy is ranked 46th in pass defense. The Mids are allowing a high completion percentage (67.3%) and twelve touchdowns this season. Last year David Fales completed 42 of 56 passes for 440 yards with five touchdowns and an interception against the Mids. Gray has been accurate but not as prolific as Fales. Free safety Parrish Gaines (21 tackles, 3 INTs) picked off a pass in the end zone in overtime to set up the win against San Jose State last year. Cornerback Quincy Adams (43 TT, 6 PD, FF) has quietly developed into one of the Mids best defensive players.

SAN JOSE STATE RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: San Jose State ranks 86th in the nation in rushing averaging over 146 yards a game. Tyler Ervin gets the ball often and in a lot different ways. He’s the starting running back but he sees time as a wide receiver and returns punts and kickoffs. The 5-foot-10 junior has 51 carries for 317 rushing yards, a 6.2 average and a touchdown. Ervin had an 83-yard touchdown run against UNLV. He had a career high 22 rushing attempts against Wyoming for 96 rushing yards. Sophomore running back Jarrod Lawson lost his carries to Ervin last week. He run for 149 yards on 43 carries. Last year he ran 26 times for 98 yards and a touchdown against Navy. Quarterback Joe Gray has mobility and ran 18-yards for a touchdown last week at Wyoming.

Navy's rushing defense allowed VMI just 60 rushing yards, 2.0 yards a carry and no touchdowns last week. Navy is ranked 88th against the run. Inside linebacker Daniel Gonzales 53 tackles, INT) is developing into the impact defender GoMids.com predicted in when he joined the program on I-day a last year after being named NAPS defensive MVP. Striker linebacker Chris Johnson has made 45 tackles, three tackles for a loss, force and fumble and recovered one. William Tuider who lost the starting Raider job has been moved back to strike behind Johnson again.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: San Jose State junior kicker Austin Lopez entered the season regarded as one of the top kickers in the nation. Lopez hit 22 of 27 field goals last season. This year he's struggled and has made 9 of his 17 field goal attempts and all his extra point attempts. He is only 3-of-8 beyond forty yards this year. Last season Lopez hit 10-of-12 from forty yards or longer. Lopez did hit a clutch 50-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the Wyoming game into overtime. San Jose State has struggled to replace the graduated punter Harrison Waid. The new punter Mich Carrizosa has averaged only 34.7 yards on 19 punts. Explosive Tyler Ervin is a dangerous returner. He's averaging 15.0 per punt return with a Punt return touchdown. Ervin and Tim Crawley are good kickoff return men. The Spartan coverage units are below average and they have allowed a punt return for a touchdown.

Navy kicker Austin Grebe hit all seven of his extra points in his first game as kicker against VMI. Austin Grebe has 14 touchbacks on his 36 kickoffs. Pablo Beltran is the best punter in Navy history. He is averaging 44.5 yards per punt with nine punts placed inside the 20 yard line. The Mids has averaged just 18.7 per kickoff returns and 1.3 on punt returns. Navy's coverage teams have been excellent the last two years.

COACHING
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: Ken Niumatalolo faces one of his biggest coaching challenges to get this team back on track after the disappointing early season results and the bitter loss to Air Force. The schedule is challenging with No. 7 Notre Dame next week, followed by 5-2 Georgia Southern which nearly beat N.C. State and Georgia Tech and 4-2 South Alabama before Army. The Mids need this game to pull to .500 on the season.

San Jose State's head coach is Ron Caragher. He replaced Mike MacIntyre last year after he left for Colorado after leading the Spartans to an 11-2 record in 2012 and a victory in the Military Bowl. Caragher has a record of 9-9 with the Spartans. He’s posted a 53-31 record as a head coach at San Jose State and at the University of San Diego.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: NAVY
REMARKS: San Jose State should be confident off a win and will looking for some payback from last year’s loss. The San Jose State offense ranks fifth in the country in time of possession so they will look to beat navy at its own game. Flying over 2,800 miles cross country to play is no easy task for the Spartans. This is homecoming day for Navy and there will be a nice crowd. The Mids season is probably on the line here if they hope for a bowl game.

PREDICTION: NAVY 35, SAN JOSE STATE 28. This is real simple. Navy needs to run the ball similar to like they did last year to win. If their running game struggles and they are forced to pass they will lose. The Spartans will give the Mids some trouble on defense so the offense needs to stay on schedule.

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