Navy (6-3) at Troy (4-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (33,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Navy 3-1, Troy 1-3. Away Record: Navy 3-1, Troy 3-2. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Troy 3-3 Series Record: Navy leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The suddenly surging Navy Midshipmen look to keep the good times rolling when they sail into Veterans Memorial Stadium to take on the high- octane spread attack of the Troy Trojans.
At the end of September Navy was staring at a 1-3 record with very little to look forward to on the season. Since that rough start though, Navy has turned its season around with wins in five straight games including a 24-17 win over Florida Atlantic last week. The five-game winning streak is the longest since the team also won five straight games in 2009. The Midshipmen have had equal success on the road and at home with a 3-1 mark in both instances.
While Navy has been heating up Troy has been cooling down. The Trojans suffered their third defeat in four games last week in a 55-48 overtime heartbreaker to Tennessee. Troy actually led three different times in the game including 48-41 with a little less than three minutes remaining. The loss came despite the Trojans racking up 721 yards of total offense, the most allowed by Tennessee in school history.
This is the second straight season these two squads will play. In the first ever meeting last October, Navy cruised to a 42-14 win in Annapolis after jumping out a 35-0 halftime lead. Navy has never lost to a Sun Belt team with wins in all six games.
It's no secret what Navy will be trying to do on offense this weekend. As always Navy will be relying on the run. On the season Navy is the seventh most prolific rushing team in the nation (268.3 ypg). In fact the Midshipmen have slightly more than four times as many rushing attempts (482) as passing attempts (120).
Seven different players have rushed for 100 yards with three at more than 400. Gee Gee Greene is the lead ball-carrier with 529 yards total this season and a hefty 7.1 yards per carry average. Greene was stifled to just 18 yards last week and in his stead K Reynolds took over rushing for a season-high 159 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Reynolds has found the end zone the most on the ground (six) and has rushed for 405 yards. Noah Copeland (464 yards) has also been a consistent contributor and has actually had the most rushing attempts on the roster (107).
Reynolds is also the man under center generally for the last few weeks. He threw for a season-high 147 yards against Florida Atlantic and has taken the majority of the snaps at quarterback after Trey Miller did so in the first four games of the season. Overall Reynolds has only thrown the ball 57 times, completing 35 of those for 560 yards, eight touchdowns and just a single interception.
Very little passing means very little in terms of individual performance in the receiving game. Brandon Turner is the team's leader (15 receptions, 212 yards, 3 TDs) but is averaging only 26.5 yards per game.
On defense Navy is the 38th ranked unit in the nation in terms of yards allowed (360.8 ypg). While not exactly dominant the defensive effort has been strong and much improved during the current winning streak.
Keegan Wetzel (52 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks) has been a very effective pass rusher, while Matt Warrick (53 tackles, 3 INTs) and Parrish Gaines (47 tackles, 2 INTs) have defended against the pass effectively. Tra'ves Bush is the lead tackler with an even 60 stops on the season.
Troy couldn't be any more different than Navy on offense. While the Midshipmen rely on a stubborn adherence to the run, the Trojans are a team that tries to move the ball down field as quickly as possibly with an up-tempo aerial assault. Troy is the top ranked passing offense in the Sun Belt and the 15th best in the nation overall, averaging an even 315 yards per game.
The Trojans' offensive prowess was on display last weekend when Troy racked up an astounding 721 yards, with 496 of those yards coming via the pass. Throwing for 393 of those yards was quarterback Corey Robinson, who posts team-bests in passing yards (2,199), completions (184), attempts (184) and touchdown passes (nine). However the Trojans do not rely on just one signal caller. Deon Anthony threw for 103 yards against Tennessee and has throw for 635 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception this season.
Anthony is used for his ability to make plays with his feet, a change from Robinson. Anthony is the second-leading rusher on the team with 312 yards and four scores. His contributions complement the running of featured back Shawn Southward, who has rushed for 793 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Relying so heavily on the pass has produced some gaudy numbers for the Trojan receivers. Chip Reeves has brought in a team-high in both receptions (47) and yards (804), with five TDs. Eric Thomas (44 receptions, 521 yards, 6 TDs) is more for a possession receiver but he has found the end zone more. Chandler Worthy (35 receptions, 415 yards) provides a solid third option.
Since its offense gets up and down the field with such speed, Troy's defense is often on the field for long stretches which has made the unit a less than stellar one on paper. That was evident in the Tennessee loss as the Trojans surrendered 718 yards of total offense, including an incredible 530 through the air. Overall Troy is the second worst team in the Sun Belt Conference in total defense (434.8 ypg) and third worst in scoring (30.0 ppg).
That's not to say there isn't some skill on defense. Brynden Trawick is coming off a 10-tackle effort and leads the team with 68 tackles this season. Tony Davis (6.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks) is the best threat in the pass rush, while Chris Pickett (42 tackles) has been able to lead the team in forced fumbles with three.
Two different offenses are squaring off in this game. Troy hasn't shown a really strong ability in stopping teams on the ground or through the air, but perhaps facing a one-sided attack like Navy's will get the defense more focused. As long as Troy can control the tempo by keeping it at a high rate, the Trojans should have the upper hand.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 31, Navy 21
11/07 10:40:54 ET