FACTS & STATS: Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) — Annapolis,
Maryland. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: WKU 1-0, Navy 0-1. Away Record: WKU
0-2, Navy 2-0. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, Navy 0-1. Conference Record: WKU 0-1,
Navy 0-0. Series Record: Navy leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Navy Midshipmen will wrap up a two-game homestand at Navy-
Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for a non-conference matchup.
Prior to its bye week, WKU played its first-ever Conference USA game and fell
on the wrong end of a triple-overtime thriller with Middle Tennessee, 50-47,
to slip to 1-2. The Hilltoppers are trying to avoid an 0-3 start on the road
after piling up an impressive 4-2 record away from home in 2013.
Navy played its home opener last weekend against Rutgers, and while it put a
valiant comeback effort together in the fourth quarter, it ultimately suffered
a 31-24 defeat to fall back to .500 at 2-2. It was the Midshipmen’s first
defeat in Annapolis since losing to San Jose State on Sept. 29, 2012 (41-3).
This home-and-home series began nearly a year ago to the day, with WKU beating
Navy in Bowling Green on Sept. 28, 19-7. It was the Hilltoppers’ only win
versus the Midshipmen in three all-time meetings.
WKU’s offensive attack has been one of the best in the nation during the first
month of the season, ranking eighth in scoring (46.7 ppg) and third in yardage
(608.7 ypg). These numbers were certainly aided by the triple-overtime
shootout in its last game where it racked up a school record 718 yards.
Brandon Doughty was especially busy in the Middle Tennessee loss, throwing for
a school-record 593 yards (532 yards in regulation). He’s completing 68.8
percent of his passes this season with 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions
and ranks fourth nationally in passing yards (1,459), but on a per-game
average, no one has thrown for more than his 486.3 ypg.
Doughty does an outstanding job distributing the ball to several different
receivers, as six players have double-digit receptions and five have at least
180 yards. Jared Dangerfield is the team leader in receptions (20), yards
(230) and touchdowns, although Taywan Taylor (17 receptions, 205 yards, TD)
and Mitchell Henry (14 receptions, 225 yards, two TDs) are right on his heels.
The running game plays second fiddle to the passing attack with just 122.3
ypg. Leon Allen (81 carries, 345 yards, three TDs) acts as the singular
workhorse and has rushed for at least 93 yards in all three games.
The Hilltoppers will unfortunately be suspect to wide open, shootout-type
games from here on out due to their porous defense, which allows 41.0 ppg and
Nick Holt anchors the unit at linebacker with 33 tackles, 4.5 TFL and a sack.
Bryan Shorter (3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Tanner Reeves (4.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) have
been solid along the defensive line.
Navy’s offense has fell below expectations this season considering its 2013
production (33.5 ppg), scoring just 26.8 ppg on 444.5 ypg.
The majority of the Midshipmen’s production comes via the rushing attack
(345.0 ypg), which ranks fourth in the nation. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds
leads the team with 63 rush attempts for 240 yards and five touchdowns.
Tailback work is split pretty evenly between Noah Copeland (241 yards), Chris
Swain (201 yards, TD), Geoffrey Whiteside (195 yards, TD) and Ryan Williams-
Jenkins (194 yards).
Reynolds has completed less than 53 percent of his throws for 281 yards and a
touchdown, with most of that production coming in last week’s come-from-behind
effort (231 yards).
On the few occasions when Reynolds does throw, he’s usually looking Jamir
Tillman’s (nine receptions, 186 yards, TD) way.
Defensively, Navy has neither impressed nor disappointed, allowing 27.5 ppg
and 423.2 ypg.
Chris Johnson is the top defensive playmaker with 28 tackles, 3.0 TFL, a
forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Parrish Gaines has two of the team’s
three interceptions, and Paul Quessenberry has the squad’s lone sack.
WKU’s passing attack has been prolific, and its success through the air is
likely to continue against Navy, but the Midshipmen are just as likely to be
able to use their running game to march up and down the field versus the
Hilltoppers’ suspect defensive unit. Navy’s ability to control the clock and
keep the ball out of Doughty’s hands should be enough to hang on for the home
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 38, Western Kentucky 34