SMU and Navy face contrasting offensive styles

SMU head coach June Jones frets about preparing his defense to

face an offense it will only see once this season.

”It’s just a hard offense to stop. Nobody executes it better or

is more disciplined,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo worries about

stopping a high-powered passing attack that Jones has pioneered and

perfected over the course of a 25-year coaching career.

”June knows this system better than anyone. He knows how to

install it, how to teach it. I’m not surprised that he has SMU

executing at a high level,” Niumatalolo said.

Teams with dramatically contrasting offensive styles will meet

Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Host Navy (3-2) is

renowned throughout college football for its patented triple-option

offense that has led the nation in rushing five times since

2003.

Jones is recognized as the country’s foremost practitioner of

the Run-and-Shoot and has SMU (4-2) running the system effectively

in just his third season at the helm.

Both offenses were clicking on all cylinders last year when the

schools engaged in a back-and-forth shootout in Dallas. SMU piled

up 376 total yards while Navy countered with 399 total yards and

escaped with a 38-35 overtime victory.

”I kind of have a feeling this will be more of a low-scoring

game,” Jones said. ”Both teams are playing very well defensively

and it’s the third straight year we’re playing each other.”

Quarterback Kyle Padron and running back Zach Line lead an SMU

offense that is averaging nearly 30 points and 415 yards. Padron,

who owns a 9-3 record since taking over as the starter last season,

is the trigger man of a passing attack that ranks 27th nationally

with 265.5 yards per game.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore has completed 58 percent of

his passes attempts for 1,564 yards and 16 touchdowns.

”The most impressive thing about (Padron) is his mechanics. You

can tell he is very well-coached. He is always precisely on key

with his mechanics. He does a good job of looking defenders off so

you don’t know where he’s going with the football and has a great

release,” Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. ”This

quarterback has all the throws. He can throw the deep corners or

the sideline outs. He also has a great understanding of the

offense.”

However, Line has added a new dimension to the SMU offense this

season by rushing for 552 yards and five touchdowns. The bruising

6-foot-1, 235-pound sophomore has proven extremely effective on the

goal-line with his ability to run over defenders.

”This is by far the best offense we will have seen and presents

our biggest challenge to date,” Green said. ”We know they can

dial up big numbers in the passing game with the way they stretch

vertically and horizontally. At the same time they pose a multiple

threat because they can run the football. That ability to run the

football opens up the passing lanes even more.”

Senior quarterback Ricky Dobbs orchestrates the Navy offense,

which has sputtered at times this season despite producing 374.8

yards per game. The Midshipmen have moved the ball effectively

between the 20-yard lines, but struggled to score and rank 98th

nationally with just 19.6 points per game.

Navy entered last Saturday’s contest at Wake Forest ranked 118th

out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in red zone

efficiency, having managed just seven touchdowns on 19 trips inside

opponent’s 20-yard line.

However, the Midshipmen corrected that problem by scoring

touchdowns on all four of their forays into the red zone with Dobbs

rushing and passing for two scores each.

Navy will be without the services of starting fullback and

second-leading rusher Vince Murray, who suffered a sprained knee

last Saturday. Fortunately, the Midshipmen have an experienced

replacement in junior Alexander Teich, who started the initial six

games of last season.

SMU is seeking to snap a 19 game non-conference road losing

streak, which began way back in 1998. The Mustangs are just 1-6

against the Midshipmen since 1995.

GANSZ TROPHY: Navy and SMU now play for the Gansz Trophy, named

in honor of the man who had a strong connection to both schools.

Frank Gansz played and coached at Navy then later served as an

assistant at SMU.

Gansz, widely regarded as one of the finest special teams

coaches in NFL history, was starting his second season at SMU under

current head coach June Jones when he died on April 27, 2009.

Former President George W. Bush, a Dallas resident, presented

the Gansz Trophy to Navy after it defeated home-standing SMU 38-35

last year. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed this week that

legendary former NFL head coach Dick Vermeil will present the

traveling trophy this year. Gansz served as special teams and tight

ends coach under Vermeil when the latter led the St. Louis Rams to

victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.