The Mustangs went up against arguably the best team in the American and held their own until late. Despite falling behind by two touchdowns, SMU battled until the end, evening taking the lead 17-14 in the second quarter. But the Mustangs couldn’t hold onto that lead, allowed a converted fake punt, over 500 yards of total offense, and a pick-six that sealed the loss for SMU. One thing Chad Morris has this team doing well, however, is playing hard. Their 1-8 record may not show it, but this is a very different team from last year’s 1-11 squad. The Mustangs search for a second win doesn’t get any easier unfortunately, with a showdown against a Navy team that just handed a ranked Memphis their first lost of the season.
Navy does a tremendous job of controlling the clock and running the ball. Led by senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds, the signal caller runs tough, and has great vision while running the option. Don’t forget about the Midshipmen’s second leading rusher, Chris Swain. Swain, who has racked up nearly 700 rushing yards, sees a lot of the short yardage carries, which isn’t surprising at 6-foot-1, 245-pounds. Defensively, the Midshipmen aren’t overly athletic or loud on defense, but they get the job done thanks to Will Anthony, Daniel Gonzales and Micah Thomas. Allowing just 19 points a game, Navy’s defense does a nice job of getting off the field on third downs, surrendering a first down on just 43 percent of such plays.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Keenan Reynolds vs. SMU defense: Reynolds has run all over defense all season long, so there’s no reason to think that will change against SMU. But if SMU wants a chance at bringing home the Gansz Trophy, they’ll have to stop Reynolds at some point. Third downs will be key, and while SMU needs to stop Reynolds, they also need to cover all other option reads.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Simply put: the Mustangs aren’t going to be able to completely stop the run. SMU is going to have to outscore Navy, which starts with winning the time of possession battle. The longer SMU takes to march down the field and score, the less touches Reynolds has to run all over the Mustangs’ defense. The offensive line did a nice job of opening holes for the run game against Temple, so that needs to continue and the Mustangs can’t shy away from running the ball. While the Midshipmen’s main weapon is their run game, they catch a lot of people of guard when they do throw, which leads to points for them. SMU has to stay disciplined, and the linebackers must keep from cheating up.
WATCH TO WATCH FOR
When Navy is on Offense: This offense is all about the run game, and considering how SMU has struggled to stop runners, it’s a perfect scenario for Navy. The key for the Midshipmen will be to maintain long possessions. They will help themselves out by keeping the ball out of the hands of Matt Davis.
When Navy is on Defense: This unit plays very well together, and it’s done a great job of bending and not breaking. They’ll have to continue that play, even while facing a talented SMU offense, if they want to stick to their winning ways.
When SMU is on Offense: SMU is going to have to put up 40-plus points to stay close to the Midshipmen on Saturday. If the SMU defense is able to get a few stops, this offense, which has been inconsistent all year, will need to step up and come right back and score.
When SMU is on Defense: If the Mustangs want to pull off the upset, they need to slow down the running game—something they haven’t done all season. While the Midshipmen will get their yards on the ground, if SMU can get consecutive stops on third down, they’ll have a shot to simply outscore Navy.
PONY STAMPEDE STAFF PREDICTIONS
Billy: Navy wins 45-21
Scott: Navy wins 45-34
Demo: Navy wins 46-24
Patrick: Navy wins 41-24
Matt: Navy wins 55-27
Hatts: Navy wins 31-17