Head to head: Navy vs. Army

Next up for Navy is Army. GoMids.com compares different critical team areas of Navy and Army and indicates which team has the edge.

NAVY
EDGE
AREA
Army
EDGE
COMMENTS
 
Navy rushing offense
vs.
Army rushing defense
 
The Midshipmen enter the 110th Army-Navy Game coming off their worst game of the season. Navy did run for 248 yards, with Ricky Dobbs accounting for 127 yards on 25 carries, but failed to control the clock in the way that is accustomed with option football. The Black Knights defense started the season with a dominating rush defense. Through their first 9 games, opponents averaged only 120.7 yards per game on the ground. But the wheels have fallen off the cart recently, with VMI running for 328 and North Texas running for 222. Not coincidentally, this times with the injury to linebacker Stephen Anderson (5-10, 229, Jr.). Only Iowa State (203) ran for over 200 yards while Anderson was playing. He still leads the team in tackles despite missing the last two games.  
 
Navy passing offense
vs.
Army passing defense
 
Neither academy is proficient in passing (Navy is 119 out of 120, Army is 120 of 120). But the Army defense has excelled against the pass. They rank 5th nationally, giving up an average of only 161.2 yards per game. As a team they have 12 interceptions, with free safety Donovan Travis (6-1, 190, Jr.) accounting for four. Cornerbacks Mario Hill (6-0, 175, Sr.) and Antuan Aaron (5-9 193 So.) have 6 and 5 pass breakups respectively.  
EVEN  
Army rushing offense
vs.
Navy rushing defense
EVEN  
With the hiring of Rich Ellerson from Cal Poly, the Black Knights have, to borrow a poker term, "moved all-in" with regards to running the option. Ellerson's version of the dual slot offense differs from the Paul Johnson version that Navy runs. For example, there seem to be more designed runs as apposed to pure option plays. But you cannot deny the effectiveness. Army averages 212.1 yards per game on the ground. This is 14th in the nation. The Midshipmen have been tightening up against the run. Two of the last thee games, Navy has held opponents to under 63 yards rushing. This leaves the Midshipmen ranking 41st in the nation, giving up an average of 127.9 rushing yards per game.  
EVEN  
Army passing offense
vs.
Navy passing defense
EVEN  
Black Knight quarterback Trent Steelman (6-0, 185, Fr.) leads team throwing for 560 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Steelman had an impressive day against VMI, completing 11 of 14 passes for 174 yards. As a team, the Black Knights have 5 touchdown passes. All 5 have gone to linemen turned wide receiver Alejandro Villanueva (6-10, 283, Sr.). Villanueva started 12 games in 2008 at left tackle. Though the Midshipmen have no one who can physically match-up with Villanueva, that might be only the tip of the iceberg. Two of the last three opponents have torched the Navy secondary. Notre Dame threw for 452 yards while Hawaii put up 366 yards through the air. The bright side is both of these offenses' were suited to throwing the ball, while the Black Knights (dead last in the nation in passing yards) are not.  
Special Teams
 
Joe Buckley is having a solid season, connecting on 9 of 12 field goal attempts. Kyle Delahooke is having a record setting season with a 43.5 yard average on his 45 punts. The return game continues to struggle. Mario Washington was suspended for the Hawaii game. Reserve cornerback John Angelo had one return for 8 yards in his absence. Kickoff returns are improving with Gee Gee Greene averaging 21.3 yards per return over the last two games and Bo Snelson had a 27 yard return against Hawaii. Alex Carlton (6-0, 186, So.) has played extremely well this season. He has made 17 of his 21 field goal attempts, including his last 7 in a row. Jonathan Bulls (6-1, 217, Jr.) has been steady but unspectacular, averaging 39.4 yards per punt. Returns have also been an area of concern for the Black Knights. Josh Jones (6-1, 187, So.), who moved from quarterback to linebacker this summer, is the primary punt returner. He has a 6.3 yard average per return. Wide receiver Damion Hunter (5-10, 166, Sr.) is the primary kickoff returner. He has 19.8 yard average.  
 
Coaching
 
Army head coach Rich Ellerson and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo have a shared history. Coach Ellerson was Hawaii's defensive coordinator from 1987-91. During that time coach Niumatalolo lettered 3 times at quarterback. In fact it was Ellerson who recruited Niumatalolo. Coach Ellerson is in his first year at Army after spending the prior 8 at Cal Poly. Though he had success at the I-AA level, this will be his first Army-Navy game experience. Coach Niumatalolo defeated Army 34-0 last season and was only the second Service Academy coach to win Commander-In-Chief's Trophy in his first year as a head coach. He is the first coach in Navy history to lead his team to bowl games in his first two seasons as a head coach.  
EVEN  
Intangibles
EVEN  
Even though the Midshipmen have won a series record 7 straight against Army and have outscored the Black Knights 274-71 during those games, it is hard to give them the emotional edge. When these two teams meet it almost always lives up to the cliche, "Throw out the records". With a win Army will play Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl. With a loss their season is over and UCLA will take on the Owls. Navy is coming off a loss where they played pitifully, while Army is coming off a victory where they scored with 1:43 left to win the game.  


PREDICTION: Navy 35, Army 24

GoMids.com Top Stories