Head to Head: Navy vs Tulsa

The AAC West lead is on the line when the Mids take on Tulsa on Saturday, Here is the head to head:



The Navy passing offense was back to its complimentary best last week against Notre Dame. Quarterback Will Worth is 57 of 95 attempts for 1,035 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. Worth is the only quarterback Navy has used since Tago Smith went down for the year. Worth completes his passes at a 60% clip, benefiting from the passes out of the option look. Against Notre Dame, Worth most often looked for his favorite target Jamir Tillman.

Last time out Tulsa beat ECU 45-24 and two Pirates quarterbacks passed for 436 yards on 38-of-62 through the air for two touchdowns. Teams average 248.4 yards passing against Tulsa and have scored 11 touchdowns through the air. The Golden Hurricane defense is a little less aggressive than most when the ball is in the air and they have picked off just seven passes. Pass rushing has been a huge part of the Tulsa pass defense and the team has 24 sacks on the season, ranking 28th in the country in that category.



We all know that Navy wants to run the ball all day long and the Mids average 299.5 yards per game on the ground. The rushing attack has to be on point, and on point early, for Navy to stay in what is likely to be a high-scoring game against Tulsa. The Mids leading rusher on the year is quarterback Will Worth who has 793 yards and 15 touchdowns on 189 carries. Worth rushed for 175 yards and two scores in a monster effort against Notre Dame. Chris High is still the leading rusher among backs with 473 yards and five of the Mids 30 rushing touchdowns.

The Tulsa rushing defense, like the Golden hurricane defense, in general, has suffered from the rate at which their offense scores. Tulsa ranks 64th in the nation in rushing defense and they give up 177.4 yards per game on the ground. Tulsa has also allowed 21 touchdowns rushing, something that will be music to the ears of Worth and company.



Tulsa has passed for 2,329 yards this season on 185 receptions and has 19 passing touchdowns. Most of those passes have come from senior QB Dane Evans who has attempted 307 passes, and 178 have been completed sitting at roughly 58 percent. This is a prolific and dangerous passing attack that has seen Evans throw for 18 scores and eight picks. There are two main targets when the Golden Hurricane are on offense as WR Keevan Lucas (60 catches) and WR Josh Atkinson (54 catches) have combined for 14 touchdowns. WR Justin Hobbs has also been a sneaky contributor with 36 catches on the season.

The Navy passing defense has been an issue all year long. The Mids rank 87th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game at 247. Navy though has generally been good at keeping the opposition out of the end zone in the passing game, and the Mids have allowed just 14 touchdowns through the air. it should be noted though that all three Notre Dame touchdowns were of the passing variety. Navy has been awful when it comes to taking the ball away from the opposition in the passing game. The Mids are tied for last in the country with just three picks on the season after Nevada registered its third interception last weekend.



The Tulsa rushing attack is dynamic and dangerous and works well with their passing attack. Running backs James Flanders and D'Angelo Brewer torched ECU for 361 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries. On the season Flanders has carried the ball 164 times for 1,080 yards and 14 touchdowns.He is a perfect compliment to Brewer who has carried the ball 186 times for 973 yards and five scores. As a team Tulsa is the 14th ranked rushing team in the country at 253.3 yards per game.

The Navy defense is still reeling a little after the beatdown that South Florida put on the unit on the ground. The Bulls rushed for a Navyesque 412 yards, with quarterback Quinton Flowers and running backs Marlon Mack and D'Earnest Johnson all going for over 100 yards on the day. The Mids did a much better job of shutting down Kizer and the Notre Dame rushing attack as the mobile quarterback went for just 52 yards on the ground. Tulsa QB Evans is not a threat to run the ball.



Navy's Bennett Moehring has now connected on 4-of-6 field goals with a long of 40 yards on the year. Moehring has missed one extra point and both his field goal misses were in the 30-39 yard bracket. Moehring was not called upon to kick any field goals against Notre Dame The Navy return game is strong and the Mids can get some value out of pressuring the Tulsa punt return game both with their punt block and punt return units.

The Golden Hurricane have Redford Jones kicking this season, and he has been very good for Tulsa. Jones is 79% for the season on field goals as he has hit 15-of-19 on an offense that gives him lots of kicking chances. Jones is best when the Golden Hurricane comes up short close to the goalline as he is a perfect 13-of-13 on kicks under 40 yards. Jones is much less productive on longer kicks, however, hitting just two of his six attempts from 40 yards or greater.



Second-year Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery is 13-9 with the Golden Hurricane. He has Tulsa competing at a high level much faster than was anticipate after his 6-7 debut season in the role. Montgomery made his name working with the explosive offenses of Houston and Baylor over the past decade. Before that, he was a highly regarded high school coach in Texas at the likes of Celeste, Stephenville, and Denton.

Ninth-year Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 73-39 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.



The Mids have had a great season to this point and Niumatalolo will be keen to see it doesn't end in disappointment. Air Force beating Army last weekend means that the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy will belong to the Falcons in 2016, so a spot in the AAC Title game is now the top priority. If Navy is able to go undefeated from this point and win the AAC Title, then a spot in the prestigious Cotton Bowl could still be on the table.

Prediction:  Navy 38, Tulsa 35. There is no doubt here that both schools will be able to move the ball and score a bunch of points. Navy will try to work clock like they did against Notre Dame and Will Worth will lead Navy to another huge conference win.

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