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Navy Travels to Dallas to Battle 25th-Ranked SMU in Final AAC Tilt – Naval Academy Athletics



Navy (5-5, 4-3 AAC) at #25 SMU (9-2, 7-0 AAC)
When Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 | 12:00 pm (ET) / 11:00 am (CT)
Location Dallas, Texas | Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Television ESPN2 (Roy Philpott, Roddy Jones, Taylor McGregor)
Live Video Stream WatchESPN and ESPN+
Listen Navy Football Radio Network (Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller, Keith Mills, Scott Wykoff)

WBAL 1090 AM / 101.5 FM (Baltimore) | WFED 820 AM, 94.3 FM (Frederick, Md.) | WFED 1500 AM (Washington, D.C.) | WFED 104.5 FM (Western Fairfax / Loudon, Va.) | WNAV 1430 AM, 99.9 FM (Annapolis) | KWFN 97.3 FM (San Diego) | WGH 1310 AM / 100.9 FM (Norfolk, Va.) | WJGM 105.7 FM (Jacksonville, Fla.) | Satellite: Sirius Ch. 161 or 202, SXM App Ch. 965 | Apps: Audacy (WNAV) and TuneIn (WBAL)
Live Stats Navy Athletics
Game Notes Navy | SMU | AAC
Season Statistics Navy | SMU | AAC
Social Media @NavyAthletics | @NavyFB | Facebook | Instagram

Opening Kick
•    Navy and #25 SMU meet for the 25th time on the gridiron and for the 9th and final time as conference foes (SMU is moving to the ACC next year) when the two square off on Saturday afternoon (12 noon ET, 11 am in Dallas) at Ford Stadium (32,000) in Dallas.
•    Navy leads the all-time series against SMU 13-11, but the Mustangs have won 3 straight and 4 of the last 5. Navy is 6-5 all-time against SMU in games played in Dallas with the Mustangs winning the last 3. The last time Navy won in Dallas was in 2016 when the Mids scored 75 points in a 44-point blowout. Last year, SMU won 40-34 in Dallas.
•    Navy, picked 9th in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll, enters Saturday’s game in 5th place and can finish as high as tied for 4th with a win and a Memphis loss to Temple. The Mids can finish no lower than tied for 5th.
•    SMU will advance to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game against the winner of Friday’s Tulane-UTSA game with a win over Navy. If SMU loses to Navy, it will come down to computer rankings between SMU and the loser of Tulane-UTSA.
•    You can make a strong argument that SMU is the best of the non-autonomy 5 teams, as the Mustangs are 22nd in ESPN’s Football Power Index and 25th in the strength of record metric.
•    Navy needs to beat SMU on Saturday to become bowl eligible. The Army-Navy game is after bowl selections are announced.
•    Navy’s last win over a ranked opponent was last November when the Mids went into the Bounce House and knocked off #17 / #18 UCF 17-14.
•    The two teams will also be playing for the Gansz Trophy. In 2009, the SMU and Navy athletic departments created the Gansz Trophy to honor the late coaching legend Frank Gansz. Navy is 7-5 in Gansz Trophy games. Considered one of the top special teams coach in the history of the NFL, Frank Gansz spent time at both SMU and the Naval Academy. He was starting his second season as special teams coach on the Hilltop when he passed away on April 27, 2009. As a collegian, Gansz played center and linebacker for the Naval Academy from 1957 to 1959 and graduated in 1960. He also spent 4 seasons as an assistant coach at Navy.
•    A win by Navy would give the Mids 3-consecutive wins for the 1st time since 2019 when Navy finished the year on a 4-game winning streak en route to a school-record tying 11 wins.
•    Navy’s 5 wins this year are the most since 2019.
•    The Mids will have an opportunity to garner a share of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy with a win over Army on Dec. 9 thanks to the Black Knights’ 23-3 upset over Air Force. Navy lost to Air Force 17-6 earlier this year.
•    Navy will play the longest regular-season schedule in the country this year. The Mids played the nation’s first regular-season college football game of the season on August 26 against Notre Dame at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland and will play the final regular-season game of the year on Dec. 9 vs. Army at Gillette Stadium in New England.
•    Navy is one of two schools this year to start 4 or more quarterbacks this fall (Arizona State has started 5): Tai Lavatai (Sr.), Blake Horvath (So.), Braxton Woodson (Fr.) and Xavier Arline (Sr.). Navy and Duke are the only 2 schools in the FBS to win a game with 3 different starting quarterbacks (Lavatai vs. Wagner and Charlotte, Horvath vs. North Texas, Arline vs. UAB and ECU).
•    Navy’s 12:44 scoring drive against UAB, capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Daba Fofana (Jr. / FB), that started in the 3rd quarter and ended in the 4th quarter was the longest scoring drive by a Navy team in terms of time since the Mids’ epic 26-play, 94-yard, 14:26 drive that ended in a field goal against New Mexico in the 2004 Emerald Bowl.
•    Penalties have hurt the Mids this year, especially in American Athletic Conference games. In its 7 conference games, Navy has been called for 46 penalties, while the opposition has been called for just 17.
•    Navy is the only school in the FBS to record 3 shutouts this year and it’s the most shutouts by a Navy team in a single-season since 1978 when the Mids shut out 4 opponents. The shutout of East Carolina was the first time the Pirates had been shut out in 26 years (322 games). The Navy defense has not allowed a touchdown in 4 of its 10 games this year (UAB scored 6 points on 2 field goals). Navy has not allowed a touchdown in the last 8 quarters.
•    Navy’s red zone defense is #1 in the country, allowing opponents to score just 65 percent of the time.
•    Navy’s defense is tied with Penn State for #1 in the the nation in fumbles recovered with 13.
•    Navy is 2nd in the country in turnover margin at +1.40.
•    Navy’s 3 interceptions thrown are the 3rd fewest in the country.
•    Navy has come up with 23 turnovers this year, the 4th most in the country.
•    Navy has 7 touchdown drives under 1:00 this year, tied for the 8th most in the country.
•    Navy’s 9 turnovers lost his year are the 9th fewest in the country.
•    Luke Pirris (So. / Raider) and Justin Reed (Jr. / DE) are tied for 4th in the country in fumble recoveries with 3 apiece.

Scouting SMU

9-2 Overall  |  7-0 AAC

Head Coach: Rhett Lashlee

•    SMU enters Saturday’s game with a 9-2 record and a 7-0 mark in the American Athletic Conference. SMU is 7-0 in conference play for the first time since 1982 when the Mustangs were in the old Southwest Conference.  

•    SMU will play in the AAC Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 2 with a win over Navy. If SMU loses to Navy, 4 computer rankings would determine who would play in the championship game between SMU and the loser of the Tulane-UTSA game.

•    The Mustangs have won 7-straight games (all AAC games), outscoring the opposition 308-120.

•    SMU has the ability to blow out teams as it owns a 55-0 victory over a Temple team that defeated Navy and a 69-10 win over Tulsa.  

•    SMU’s only 2 losses this year were early in the year to Oklahoma (28-11, trailed 14-11 in the 4th quarter) and TCU (34-17).

•    SMU ranks 22nd in the FBS in ESPN’s Football Power Index and 25th in the strength of record metric.

•    Georgia and SMU are the only 2 FBS teams in the country to rank in the top 15 in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense. SMU ranks 6th, 15th, 10th and 14th, respectively, in those categories.

•    The Mustangs are led by sophomore quarterback Preston Stone, who has completed 192 of his 325 passes for 2,875 yards with 25 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions.

•    The 6 interceptions thrown rank 21st in the FBS for a team.

•    SMU’s passing offense ranks 20th in the country (284.9), while they are 8th in passing yards per completion (14.7) and 19th in team passing efficiency (156.8).

•    Stone’s favorite targets are Rice transfer Jake Bailey (33-438) and tight end RJ Maryland (26-398 with 7 TDs). However, he has spread the ball around as SMU has completed a pass to an incredible 23 different receivers this year.

•    The SMU running attack is led by Miami transfer Jaylan Knighton (113-645, 6 TDs) and Texas A&M transfer LJ Johnson Jr. (99-542, 3 TDs).

•    SMU has lost just 3 fumbles this year, 12th fewest in the FBS.

•    SMU is 17th in the country in red zone offense, scoring 91 percent of the time.

•    The SMU offensive line has been great, ranking 15th in the country in sacks allowed (1.2) and 5th in tackles for loss allowed (3.5).

•    Defensively, the Mustangs are led by Temple transfer Kobe Wilson (58 tackles, 1 INT and 1 fumble recovery) and Isaiah Nwokobia (50 tackles).

•    The SMU defense has scored 3 touchdowns this year which ranks 11th in the FBS.

•    The SMU defense is ranked 12th in the nation in 3rd down defense (.296).

•    SMU is giving up just 194.5 passing yards per game, ranked 24th in the country, and 112.0 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 23rd.

•    The Mustangs have been a disciplined team this fall, ranking 13th in the country in fewest penalties per game (4.5) and 17th in fewest penalty yards per game (39.9).

•    The SMU offense ranks 10th in the country in most first downs (270), while the SMU defense ranks 18th in fewest first downs (187).

•     SMU has 46 transfers on its roster.

Broadcast Coverage

•    ESPN2 will have the TV coverage with Roy Philpott, Roddy Jones and Taylor McGregor on the call.

•    The Navy Football Pregame Show with Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller, Keith Mills, Scott Wykoff and special commentary from John Feinstein will get underway at 11:00 am on the Navy Radio Network, followed by game action beginning at 12 noon with Medhurst, Miller and Mills on the call.

•    Following the contest, Medhurst, Miller, Mills and Wykoff will recap the day’s events in a 30-minute postgame show.

Navy and SMU Battle for the Gansz Trophy

•    In 2009, the SMU and Navy athletic departments created the Gansz Trophy to honor the late coaching legend Frank Gansz. Navy is 7-4 in Gansz Trophy games.

•    Considered one of the top special teams coach in the history of the NFL, Frank Gansz spent time at both SMU and the Naval Academy. Gansz was starting his second season as special teams coach on the Hilltop when he passed away on April 27, 2009. As a collegian, Gansz played center and linebacker for the Naval Academy from 1957 to 1959 and graduated in 1960. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Navy.

•    In all, Gansz was a veteran of 38 seasons of coaching – 24 in the NFL and 14 in the collegiate ranks.

•    Prior to coming to SMU in 2008, Gansz was the special teams coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2000 and ’01). Prior to his time with the Jags, he served as the special teams coach of the St. Louis Rams for three seasons, helping the team to its victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.

•    In 1986, Gansz’s first year as the assistant head coach/special teams for Kansas City, the Chiefs blocked or deflected an NFL-record 10 kicks and scored 5 touchdowns. Gansz was promoted to head coach of the Chiefs, a role he served from 1987 to 1988.

•    He left the Chiefs to become the special teams coach for the Detroit Lions from 1989 to 1993, a period in which Mel Gray developed into the NFL’s all-time leader in combined kick return yardage. In 1989, Gansz was named NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year by his peers. He then spent three years as the assistant head coach/special teams for the Atlanta Falcons from 1994 to 1996.

•    Gansz’s NFL career began in 1978 as special teams coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He coached special teams and tight ends for Cincinnati (1979-80), Kansas City (1981-82) and Philadelphia (1983-85).

•    After serving as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force for nearly seven years, Gansz began his coaching career at Air Force (1964-66). He also had coaching stints at Colgate (1968), Navy (1969-72), Oklahoma State (1973, 1975), Army (1974) and UCLA (1976-77).

Seniors Receive Service Assignments

•    The 25 seniors on the Navy football team received their service assignments on Nov. 16.

•    Navy’s seniors will graduate on May 24 and be commissioned Ensigns in the Navy or 2nd Lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Graduates serve a minimum of 5 years in the Navy or Marine Corps, while pilots serve 8 years upon earning their wings.  

Xavier Arline: QB / Marine Corps Ground

Donald Berniard Jr.: NG / Surface Warfare

Chaisen Buckner: LB / Marine Corps Ground

Jacob Busic: DE / Marine Corps Ground

Willie Collins V: CB / Surface Warfare

Khalil Crawford: FB / Marine Corps Ground

Clay Cromwell: DT / Marine Corps Ground

Eavan Gibbons: Striker / Navy Pilot

Sam Glover: OT / Surface Warfare

Will Harbour: LB / Navy Pilot

Daniel Jones: SB / Marine Corps Ground

Akalea Kapono: TE / Information Professional

Tai Lavatai: QB / Surface Warfare

Xavier McDonald: Striker / Navy Pilot

John Meagher: WR / Navy Pilot

Marcus Moore: FS / Surface Warfare

Lirion Murtezi: C / Supply Corps

Colin O’Connor: WR / Marine Corps Ground

Joshua Pena: OG / Surface Warfare (Nuclear)

Mike Petrof: OT / Surface Warfare

Kai Puailoa-Rojas: SB / Marine Corps Ground

Jayden Umbarger: WR / Marine Corps Ground

Evan Warren: K / Navy Pilot

Camari Williams: WR / Surface Warfare

Cole Williams: LS / Marine Corps Ground


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