The Navy Midshipmen travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play the Golden Hurricane on Saturday at H.A. Chapman Stadium in an American Athletic Conference game. Last week the Midshipmen rolled over the SMU Mustangs 55-14 on Senior Day in Annapolis. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds scored four rushing touchdowns to boost his career total to 81 in his last home game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Reynolds broke the rushing mark held by Montee Ball who ran for 77 touchdowns with Wisconsin from 2009-12. Tulsa dropped a wide open high scoring 49-38 game to Cincinnati who scored three straight touchdowns in the second half to pull away. This is the third meeting between Navy and Tulsa. The all-time series is tied 1-1 with the last game happening in 2006.
NAVY'S PASSING OFFENSE VS. TULSA'S PASSING DEFENSE
Keenan Reynolds has completed 31-of-65 passes (47.7%) for 597 passing yards with four passing touchdowns this year. Last week Reynolds completed 2-of-9 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown as the SMU defense stacked against the run. Reynolds missed three wide open receivers and had a perfect bomb dropped by Craig Scott. Keenan did hit Jamir Tillman for a 72-yard touchdown pass. Jamir Tillman leads the Mids with 16 receptions for 267 yards, a 16.7 average and two touchdowns. The other Mid wide receivers have had trouble holding on to the ball. The offensive line allowed no sacks last week against SMU.
Tulsa is ranked 123rd in the nation in passing defense and are allowing opponents an average of 315 passing yards per game. Tulsa's defense has been able to force turnovers. They have 19 takeaways this season and the Tulsa offense has scored 79 points off of those opponent turnovers. The defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The pass rush is supplied by linebacker Matt Linscott who has 87 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and five sacks. The former walkout was moved from safety to linebacker and has emerged as an impact player. Safety Michael Mudoh had nine tackles last week against Cincinnati. His team leading 109 tackles ranks ninth nationally. Mudoh has picked off a pass and has five passes broken up. Mudoh had a team-leading 113 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2014. Cornerback Darrell Williams has 25 tackles and has picked off two passes so far this year.
NAVY'S RUSHING OFFENSE VS. TULSA'S RUSHING DEFENSE
Navy's spread option offense is ranked second in the nation in rushing. The Mids are averaging over 335 rushing yards a game. Last week Navy ran for 403 rushing yards, a 6.2 average and seven rushing touchdowns against SMU. Keenan Reynolds ran 14 times for 137 yards and four scores. He scored from 4, 43, 8 and 32-yards out. Reynolds has scored 81 career touchdowns which are the most in NCAA FBS history for rushing touchdowns. Reynolds is just three touchdowns behind Georgia Southern’s Adrian Peterson and Towson’s Terrance West for the Division I record. His 4,114 career rushing yards are the second most in school history, trailing record-holder Napoleon McCallum by 65. B-back Chris Swain has run for 763 yards, a 5.0 average and eight touchdowns. Slotback Demond Brown showed his speed on the edge on a nineteen yard touchdown run on Senior Day. Brown leads all the slotbacks with three rushing scores.
Tulsa has struggled defending the run and is ranked 115th in the nation, allowing 220 rushing yards per game. Linebacker Trent Martin has 76 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles and three pass break ups. Sophomore linebacker Craig Suits (37 tackles, 4 1/2 TFL, PD) was a Freshman All-American last season. Defensive tackle Derrick Luetjen has 36 tackles, 8 1/2 TFLs and one fumble recovery this year. Luetjen is the younger brother of former Army defensive back Matt Luetjen. Tulsa defensive end Derrick Alexander is on the Lombardi Award watch list. He has 32 tackles, 1/2 tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries. He was a second-team American Athletic Conference selection in 2014. The Golden Hurricane are tied with Navy for the most fumble recoveries in the country with twelve.
TULSA'S PASSING OFFENSE VS. NAVY'S PASSING DEFENSE
Tulsa has one of the top offenses in the nation, they are ranked ninth nationally, with an average of 527 yards per game. Tulsa has averaged 36.5 points while scoring over 30 points 8 out of 10 games. The Hurricane has scored forty or more points in five games this season. Tulsa is led by quarterback Dane Evans He has completed 227 of his 372 pass attempts (61%) for 3,313 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Evans has thrown for over 400 yards in three games and threw four touchdown passes against both Oklahoma and Memphis. The Golden Hurricane have two starting receivers, Keyarris Garrett and Josh Atkinson on the Biletnikoff list. That award honors the most outstanding receiver in college football. Evans’ favorite target is Keyarris Garrett, who has 74 catches for 1,164 yards, a 15.7 average, and six touchdowns. Last game Garrett had his fifth 100+ receiving game of the season with 168 yards and one TD on nine receptions against Cincinnati. Two of Garrett's touchdowns have come on "Hail Mary" passes at the end of the first half. Josh Atkinson has 52 catches for 762 yards, 14.7 average and three TDs.
Navy's secondary is ranked 53rd in the nation as they are allowing just 213 passing yards per game. Navy allowed SMU to complete just 9-of-24 passes for only 124 passing yards with a touchdown. The Mids picked off two passes. Free safety Lorentez Barbour lit up a receiver on one play. He made three tackles and forced a fumble. The Mids cornerbacks shut down the Mustangs receivers most of the day. Cornerbacks Quincy Adams (46 tackles, 7 PD) and Brandon Clements (32 tackles, 2 INTs., 3 PDs) have been brilliant the last month allowing some very good offenses an average of just over 16 points per game. Rover Daiquan Thomasson (21 tackles, INT, 2 PDs) made his first interception and returned it 22 yards last week against SMU. Defensive end Amos Mason (38 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 PD) led the Mids with six tackles, a sack and a pass defensed against the Mustangs.
TULSA'S RUSHING OFFENSE VS.NAVY'S RUSHING DEFENSE
Tulsa is 41st in the nation in rushing. Tulsa is averaging 195 rushing yards a game. Tulsa rotates running backs. Redshirt freshman running back Ramadi Warren is coming off of two straight one hundred plus rushing games with 168 yards and three touchdowns against UCF, and last week 139 yards and 2 touchdowns at Cincinnati. Running back D’Angelo Brewer has carried the ball 122 times for 645 yards and three touchdowns. Zack Langer has 631 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns on 170 carries. Langer has lost most of his carries to the emergence of Warren and is now used mostly in short yardage.
Navy is ranked 33rd in the nation in run defense and are allowing 136 rushing yards a game. The Mids allowed the SMU Mustangs 144 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Bernie Sarra anchored the defensive line with four tackles. Mike linebacker Micah Thomas leads the Mids with 54 tackles. Will linebacker Daniel Gonzalez (48 tackles, 2 1/2 TFL, Int., FF) missed last week but should be able to play this week. Defensive end Will Anthony (41 tackles, 4 1/2 TF, 2 1/2 sacks , 2 FF, 2 FR) has dominated all season.
Tulsa kicker Redford Jones has converted 15-of- 23 FGs and 44-of-45 PATs this year. Punter Dalton Parks was named to the preseason watch list for the 2015 Ray Guy Award for the nation's top collegiate punter. Parks averaged 41.1 yards on 53 punts. Preston Soper has kicked off 65 times this year and 11 touchbacks. Kick returner Ramadi Warren is averaging 22.7 yards per attempt. Punt returner Conner Floyd is averaging 13.8 on punt returns. Tulsa does a very good job covering kicks.
Navy kicker Austin Grebe has hit 10-of-11 field goal attempts this fall. Grebe has 14 touchbacks on his 61 kickoffs. Grebe missed an extra point last week. It was just the second miss of his career. Alex Barta is averaging 41.2 yards per punt. Alex Barta shanked his only punt attempt which travelled just 24 yards against SMU. Dishan Romine is averaging 25.0 yards on his kickoff returns. DeBrandon Sanders is averaging 7.3 on punt returns. Calvin Cass Jr. the other punt returner in Navy's two returner set up has averaged 7.7 yards on his punt returns. Navy’s coverage teams have struggled in recent weeks. Will Anthony blocked a field goal last week.
Tulsa first year head coach Philip Montgomery became the 29th head coach in school history on Dec. 11, 2014. He has a 5-5 record as the Tulsa head coach. Before coming to Tulsa, he spent seven years at Baylor, where he spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator/QB coach. Under his guidance, Baylor led the nation in total offense and scoring offense in each of the last two seasons. Montgomery has coached nine bowl games in 12 years as a collegiate coach.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo is in his eighth season as head coach. Niumatalolo has led the Mids to a 65-36 (.644) record and is the program’s all-time winningest coach. Niumatalolo has been on the Mids’ sideline as either an assistant or head coach for 18 of the last 21 years. Over those 18 years, Navy has compiled a 133-86 record (.607), won nine Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies, gone to 12 bowl games and won six bowl games. Last week offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper had everything working as the Mids put up 484 yards of offense and scored eight touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Dale Pehrson's unit was outstanding. SMU's offense was clicking entering the game averaging 35.5 points per game the last two weeks. They put up 40 points last week against Temple yet the Mids simply shut them down.
Tulsa should be primed for a big effort at home on their senior day. The Golden Hurricane has averaged 41.3 points per game over the last month with their explosive offense. The Mids enter Saturday’s game against Tulsa having won 14 of their last 16 games. With next week's Western division first place match-up looming against undefeated Houston this could be a trap game for the Midshipmen.
PREDICTION: Navy, 45-31. I have a feeling Tulsa will test the Mid’s defense more than they have been the last month against some very good offensive teams. Navy is playing like the top twenty team they are as they have beaten their last four opponents by a combined 160-45 score. Teams usually have to adapt to defending the option for the first time in a while. Tulsa struggles against the run and this is the type of team the Mids usually run wild against.