Dennis Akers

Head to Head: Navy Midshipmen at South Florida Bulls

Let's take a look at the head to head and see who has the advantage as Navy plays South Florida in Tampa on Friday night.

NAVY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
USF PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: TIE

REMARKS: Senior quarterback Will Worth will be heading pretty much back home for this game. Worth played his high school ball in Newsome, Florida, a 24-mile shot from Raymond James Stadium. Worth has slotted into the Navy offense in a way that has stunned even head coach Ken Niumatalolo and one of the ways Worth has been effective is throwing the ball. The quarterback has passed for 688 yards on the season, using the triple-option as the base from which to pass. Worth has five touchdown passes to his name and only two picks, both of which came in the loss to Air Force. When Navy does look to pass the option is always Jamir Tillman first, then everyone else. Tillman has 19 of the Mids 38 catches in 2016, but surprisingly only one of the five touchdowns.

NAVY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
USF RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY

REMARKS: This is where Navy must dominate if they are to beat USF. Worth is coming off of a game where he rushed for 201 yards and three scores against Memphis and he is now up to 489 yards and nine rushing scores on the year. Chris High is still the leading rusher of the running back group, but he has been a little quiet in recent weeks. His 7.1 yards per carry average though is still impressive for a player that does most of his work right in the teeth of the defensive front.

Navy plays a team ranked 100th in the FBS against the run and that just gave up 319 rushing yards to a Temple squad that is good, but not great, on the ground. The Navy offense has the power to be great running the ball and ranks fourth in the country with 293 yards per game on the ground. An interesting side plot here will be the play of linebacker Auggie Sanchez against the option. Sanchez has 117 tackles last season and has 71 tackles through eight games this season.

USF PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
NAVY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: USF

REMARKS: All the grading and assessing for the USF offense is based on the assumption that quarterback Quinton Flowers is able to play and that he isn't hampered too much by his tweaked hamstring. The Bulls are very balanced on offense and it has allowed them to be a prolific scoring team that puts up over 43 points per game. Flowers is a big play quarterback that can hit the deep passes that have given the Navy defense issues all year. South Florida passes for 232 yards per game and Navy gives up 256 passing yards per game, though it often feels like more than that. The player to watch through the air is senior wide

South Florida passes for 232 yards per game and Navy gives up 256 passing yards per game, though it often feels like more than that. The player to watch through the air is senior wide receiver Rodney Adams who has 34 catches, but this is an attack that will feed any open target as shown by the fact eight Bulls have touchdown receptions this season.

.USF RUSHING OFFENSE

VS.
NAVY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: NAVY

REMARKS: This is the area that will be most impacted if Flowers cannot go or is not 100%. Navy allows 148 yards per game on the ground, while USF rushes the ball for 255 yards per contest. Flowers though is the Bulls leading rusher, with almost 750 yards on the season and eight touchdowns. He is also a legitimate breakaway threat as he averages almost seven yards per carry and has eight rushing scores.

This is not a one-man show in the backfield however as Flowers in perfectly complimented by running back Marlon Mack. Mack has rushed for 659 yards on 97 carries and averages just slightly less per carry than Flowers at 6.8 yards per tote. Mack actually leads Flowers in the touchdown stakes with 10 and the team as a whole has an impressive 27 touchdowns rushing this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: USF

REMARKS: Looking purely at the respecting kicking games it is the Bulls that have the edge here. Navy kicker Bennett Moehring is 4-for-6 on field goal tries in 2016 and has missed two of his three shots from between 30 and 39 yards. USF kicker Emilio Nadelman, on the other hand, is a perfect 7-of-7 on his field goal attempts, including hitting a pair of kicks in the 40 to 49-yard range. It is interesting that both kickers have attempted so few field goals (less than one a game) showing that their teams score touchdowns more efficiently than most.

COACHING 
EDGE: NAVY

REMARKS: Fourth-year head coach Willie Taggart is 20-25 at USF.  He turned the team around after going 2-10 and 4-8 in his first two seasons, to going 8-5 last year and being 6-2 this season. Before taking the head coaching gig at USF, Taggart was the head coach at Western Kentucky and he built a 16-20 record with the Hilltoppers. He worked at Western Kentucky from 1999 onwards, with a three-year break as the Stanford running backs coach in 2007-2009.

Ninth-year Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 72-38 at Navy. He previously was the offensive line coach at Navy under Paul Johnson and took the head coaching role for the Mids bowl game at the end of the 2007 season. Niumatalolo previously coached on staffs ate Hawaii and UNLV and many consider him to be one of the most underrated head coaches in the game today.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: NAVY

REMARKS:Both teams want this win to cement their place at the top of their respective AAC divisions. The biggest factor here is that the Bulls are just beaten up after playing eight straight games. This started to show in their late game work against Temple where they simply could not get off the field against the Owls rushing attack. The Bulls offense is still going to work and the team will still put up points but is really hard to see the USF defense holding up for an entire game against the rushing attack they are about to face.

PREDICTION: Navy 38, USF 24. This is one bridge too far for the Bulls. Navy is going to dominate the time of possession and wear down USF and the quick strike nature of the Bulls offense is going to work against them as the game goes on. Navy wins here.


MidsDaily.com Top Stories