Navy hosts Colgate, which hopes to 'shock the world'
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Navy looks at its opening game as a chance to build momentum before beginning its first season in the American Athletic Conference.
Colgate sees a chance to create a memorable moment.
The Midshipmen will be overwhelming favorites Saturday in their matchup with the Football Championship Subdivision opponent. Navy has also dominated Colgate in previous meetings, winning all six games between the schools by a combined score of 195 to 91.
''We have smart kids. They know it will be a big challenge to go against a quality opponent like Navy,'' Colgate coach Dan Hunt said. ''I will tell them this is an opportunity to be a team that will be remembered.''
There is no understating the importance of this game for Colgate.
''We're going to treat it like a bowl game,'' Hunt said. ''All the pressure is on Navy, so let's take a big swing and see if we can shock the world.''
To pull off an upset, the Raiders must stop option quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who needs 14 rushing touchdowns and 20 total TDs to break the FBS career marks established by former Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball.
Some other things to know about the Colgate-Navy matchup:
PEHRSON TAKES OVER: Buddy Green, Navy's defensive coordinator since 2002, is on sabbatical this season due to health reasons. Green underwent neck surgery during the offseason and gave up on-field coaching duties one week into summer practice. Dale Pehrson, the longest-tenured member of the staff (20 years), is serving as interim defensive coordinator. He last held the title of defensive coordinator at Southern Utah from 1991-95. It will be interesting to see what the home team's defense looks like with Pehrson calling the signals.
COLGATE STRONG UP FRONT: Hunt believes Colgate will field the finest front seven he has seen in his 20 years at the school. Senior defensive end Victor Steffen has totaled 18 tackles for a loss and nine sacks over the previous two seasons. Linebacker Kyle Diener led the Raiders with 89 tackles last year in being named first team All-Patriot League. A strong defensive front is the key to containing Navy's triple-option. Hunt feels confident that his three linemen and four linebackers won't get pushed around by the Midshipmen.
THE OTHER QUARTERBACK: Although Reynolds is among the nation's elite at his position, Colgate quarterback Jake Melville can be a challenging matchup for defenses. He's an unpredictable scrambler who can turn a potentially negative play into a positive one. Melville was outstanding in the seven games he started last season, accounting for 1,473 yards of total offense and 10 touchdowns while leading Colgate to a 5-2 record. The Raiders were winless in the five games Melville missed with mononucleosis.
REYNOLDS CHASING RECORDS: Reynolds has an opportunity to break several NCAA and Naval Academy records this season. In addition to chasing Ball's NCAA marks, the fleet-footed star needs 993 rushing yards and seven touchdown passes to become Navy's career leader in those two categories.
HOME TO START: This marks the first time since 2011 that Navy has opened the season at home. An FCS school was the opponent that year as well: The Midshipmen easily defeated Delaware, 40-7.