Matt Visinsky

Five Burning Questions: SMU Mustangs vs. Navy Midshipmen

Billy talked with staff writer Jim Lawler about Saturday's SMU-Navy game.

BE: Keenan Reynolds has been one of the most successful Navy quarterbacks ever and the most productive. What makes him so dangerous in this offense?

JL: It's Reynolds understanding of Navy's spread option scheme and his ability to read the defensive count and distribute the ball. Reynolds is a maestro directing the Navy attack. Lat week Memphis focused on Reynolds in Navy biggest win  in years and held him to just 38 rushing yards and no scores. Still he led the Mids to 45 points and the win. Keenan just read the defense and took what they gave him. More importantly with the game in hand Navy called for a quarterback sneak so Keenan could set the NCAA rushing record, but he checked out of the play and pitched the ball to Demond Brown because he saw it was an easy touchdown. Reynolds is all about winning.  Keenan is  an option quarterback with a live arm who can make defenses pay when they sell against the run like Memphis did.  If Reynolds scores a rushing touchdown SMU fans will get to see history with him passing Wisconsin running back Montee Ball (2009-12) for most rushing touchdowns in NCAA history.   ??

BE: Reynolds has some key supporters in this offense in Chris Swain and others. What does the group of supporters bring to the offense?

JL: The triple option offense starts with the fullback dive. Fullback Chris Swain ran 18 times for a team leading 108 yards and a career high three touchdown game against Memphis. Swain has run for 680 yards and eight scores. The "Swain Train" is a big, fast 245-pound power back. His backup Quentin Ezell has played well running for 262 yards. If SMU takes the fullback and has Reynolds covered he will look to pitch to one of his  slotbacks. None of the slotbacks are going to scare anyone getting off the bus since they are short and small. Some are so short you can eat soup off their heads. Still they all have good speed and can get to the edge. DeBrandon Sanders who has run for 256 rushing yards, an 8.5 average per carry, is the best of the group. 

?BE: Is this the most potent Navy offense you can remember and what makes them so dangerous?

JL: No, the 2007 Navy offense which was Paul Johnson's last season as Navy head coach was a better. In 2007 the offense rarely punted, scored 511 points and averaged 39.3 points per game. This year's offense is good because it has the best option quarterback in Navy's history running the show. What makes this Navy team tough to beat is the Mids are fielding their best defense in years.     

??BE: Memphis and SMU run similar offenses. What did Navy do schematically to slow the Memphis offense?

JL: Navy allowed Memphis only 133 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. The Mids defense did a great job against an offense that entered the game averaging 202 rushing yards. It helped make the Tigers one dimensional. Navy's 3-4 defense plays a bend but don't break scheme that usually limits big plays. After Memphis's opening series the Mids offense controlling the ball and the Navy defense made Memphis drive the field  which seemed to help take the uptempo Tiger offense out of its rhythm.

BE: Who are some of the key cogs on defense that might give SMU trouble and what are your thoughts match-up wise?

JL: Defensive end Will Anthony is very strong and the SMU may have trouble handing him. Inside linebackers Micah Thomas and Daniel Gonzalez do a good job of shutting down the run. Navy's experienced cornerbacks Quincy Adams and Brandon Clements should match up well with SMU's receivers. Quarterback Matt Davis and SMU's offense seem to be entering this game playing their best. The Mids are primed for a let down off the Memphis win. Davis's dual threat ability and the fact the young SMU receivers are playing better make them a live underdog. SMU has more four and three star athletes than Navy and they have played a very tough schedule this season. Talent wise Navy is not the type of team that can show up and win.  If Davis is on this game, spreads the ball around, can avoid turnovers and his offensive line protects him this game can be closer than some expect. 

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