No. 22 Navy seeks to keep on a roll against skidding SMU
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Navy is looking to remain on course for a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
SMU merely wants to get that winning feeling again.
Ranked for the first time since 2004, No. 22 Navy is coming off a huge upset of Memphis. To keep the momentum going Saturday against SMU, the Midshipmen (7-1, 5-0) must put last week's game behind them.
''You need to move on, win or lose,'' coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ''That has been the approach every week – to win the next game.''
Niumatalolo insists that SMU (1-8, 0-5) is much better than its record would indicate. The Mustangs, under the direction of first-year head coach Chad Morris, are averaging 30 points per game.
''SMU just scored 40 points against a very good Temple defense. Chad Morris is a really good coach and knows how to put points on the board,'' Niumatalolo said.
Quarterback Matt Davis has been the most dangerous weapon for SMU. He has passed for 1,946 yards and 15 touchdowns and also leads the Mustangs with 552 yards rushing.
''This quarterback has a strong arm and is very elusive. He's a real scrambler, will pull the ball down and take off running in a heartbeat,'' Navy interim defensive coordinator Dale Pehrson said.
SMU has lost seven straight, but several of those defeats have been close.
''Our guys have to find ways to win instead of finding ways to lose,'' Morris said. ''That's a learning process and a culture.''
Some other things to know about the SMU-Navy matchup:
REYNOLDS RECORD: Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds will set the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns if he crosses the goal line. Reynolds tied Montee Ball atop the all-time list with two touchdowns against South Florida on Oct. 31, but did not reach the end zone against Memphis. The Midshipmen had the ball inside the 10-yard line four times against the Tigers, but fullback Chris Swain, along with slotbacks Toneo Gulley and Demond Brown, got the scores.
BAD COMBINATION: Navy's triple-option offense is averaging 326.5 rushing yards, which is third nationally in that category. Meantime, SMU has one of the country's worst rushing defenses, ranking 121st out of 127 Football Bowl Subdivision schools with 259.6 yards allowed per game on the ground.
SPECIAL MOMENT: This game is a particularly special for SMU backup quarterback and holder Garrett Krstich, whose decision to come back for a fifth year was largely based on getting the opportunity to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. When Krstich takes the field on Saturday he will be honoring and remembering his late father. Jeff Krstich was a co-captain of the 1969 Navy team. Garrett Krstich said his fondest memories involve watching the Army-Navy game with his father. They attended five Army-Navy games together, the last coming in 2007 in Baltimore a few weeks before Jeff Krstich passed away. ''I'm sure it will be emotional. When I run out of that tunnel for the first time I'm going to just stand there for a few minutes and take it all in,'' Garrett said.
TURNOVER DISPARITY: The Midshipmen and Mustangs are also on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to turnover margin.
Navy is second nationally at plus-12, having forced 17 and committed just five. SMU is minus-5, committing 18 turnovers compared to 13 takeaways.