There is a lot of talk about the possibility of the Georgia Southern football team breaking into the Top 25, or even making a bowl game. The Eagles need a win over Navy to keep those possibilities alive.
It has been a down year for Navy, as they have dropped five losses in their nine games this season. They were able to take down Texas State 35-21 earlier in the season, but took losses to Western Kentucky and Air Force. Other losses came from Ohio State, Rutgers and Notre Dame.
Due to Georgia Southern’s ineligibility for national statistics in their transition year, Navy claims the top spot for average rushing yards per game with 350.4 (the Eagles have 386.5). They run the traditional triple option that has scored them 30 touchdowns on the ground. The Midshipmen have no players over 1,000 yards rushing and only one with more than four touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds has only played in seven of the nine contests this season, but he has twice as many carries as anyone else on the team. Reynolds has accumulated 686 yards and 11 touchdowns with an average of 4.2 yards per touch. The running back core has performed well but heavily relies on Reynolds opening up lanes on pitches.
The Midshipmen defense has played solidly against the run but has shown struggles against the pass. There is a disadvantage they have playing against the spread option that many may overlook. While both teams run the option, the Eagle’s spread option relies on zone blocking. Navy does not run zone blocking or zone reads and they are not used to seeing that other than flashes of it against Air Force.
All season, the Navy defense has been equal on almost all fronts. Six different defensive players for the Midshipmen have over 50 tackles, with three more over 40. The Eagles will have to find away around 6’4” 220-pound linebacker Jordan Drake. With 60 tackles and one forced fumble, he has been the leader and the captain for the Navy defense.
Navy has seen the option before and they know how to defend against it. The advantage the Eagles have is their versatility, and their ability to spread the field. They also have the option to ground and pound up the middle with redshirt freshman running back L.A. Ramsby. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Ellison will have to make people miss on spread option plays to keep hitting Navy from every direction. The way to beat Navy on the ground is to keep them guessing on which way the option will go, pulling them out of their assignments.
The Eagle defense is in luck, this team does not like throwing the ball. Their offense revolves around the running of their quarterback and its triple option. They have a far less impressive fullback than Georgia Tech and their running backs do not have the same big play ability. Last week’s Sun Belt defensive player of the week Matt Dobson will be walked up with the linebackers Edwin Jackson and Antwione Glover to slow down the top rushing attack in the FBS.
The battle of the top two rushing offenses in the country will be the game of the season for the Eagles. Navy is having a down year, and they will be looking to turn it around and get themselves on the road to bowl eligibility. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. in Annapolis, Md. on the CBS Sports Network.