ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Before Navy and Tulane could finalize a game plan for Saturday, each team had to be sure its quarterback was healthy enough to play.
Keenan Reynolds bruised his shin during Navy’s loss to Notre Dame on Oct. 10. Fortunately, he rested during a bye week and returned this week to direct the starting offense while wearing a protective sleeve.
”Keenan is doing well. I think he’s had a good week of practice,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said in the middle of the week. ”He looks good and hopefully he’s 100 percent on Saturday.”
Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee received a concussion in a loss to Temple on Oct. 10 and missed last Friday’s night game against Houston. Devin Powell started and completed only 11 of 28 passes for 88 yards in a 42-7 defeat.
Powell hurt his arm in that game and was unable to throw during the week, forcing coach Curtis Johnson to contemplate starting former walk-on Jordy Joseph. Fortunately for Tulane, team doctors have cleared Lee to play.
”The offense never looks good (without Lee), but when he’s in there, it looks good no matter what,” Johnson said. ”All of a sudden you see a throw where he hits a guy in a tight spot, and it gives everyone confidence.”
With Lee at the helm, Johnson believes the Green Wave can pull off an upset.
”With Tanner out there, we know what we’re doing,” Johnson said. ”If we can match (Navy’s) intensity on offense with our defense, we might be able to get some stuff on their defense. We can move it.”
Here are some other things to watch for Saturday:
BUDDING RIVALRY: Navy was competing as an independent while Tulane was a member of Conference USA the last time these two schools met. Now the Green Wave and Midshipmen are both members of the American Athletic Conference and will play annually as members of the West Division. Tulane (2-4, 1-2) joined the AAC in 2014. Navy (4-1, 2-0) came aboard as a football-only member this year. Navy and Tulane played each other 14 times from 1991 through 2005. That last meeting came just three months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and forced Tulane to shut down for four months. Budget woes were going to force Tulane to cancel its scheduled trip to Annapolis, but Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk salvaged the game by paying all of the travel costs.
STOPPING THE OPTION: Tulane has already faced one triple-option opponent this season and did not fare well defensively. Georgia Tech rolled up 439 yards on the ground in a 65-10 rout on Sept. 12. Navy ranks third in the nation with 335.4 yards rushing per game. The Midshipmen amassed 318 yards on the ground against Notre Dame, which held the Yellow Jackets to just 216 rushing yards. Johnson said Navy’s version of the triple-option is more difficult to prepare for than Georgia Tech’s.
STUCK ON 73: Reynolds will resume his pursuit of the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns. He remains four shy of the mark established by former Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball, who ran for 77 scores from 2009-2012. Reynolds has not produced a rushing touchdown in two straight games for the first time in his career and remains stuck on 73.