Friday, December 19, 2008

Eagle Bank Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Navy


December 20 * 11:00 AM * ESPN

This will mark the second meeting between the two squads this season – Navy won the first meeting 24-17. The key match-up is Wake Forest’s defensive front seven vs. the Navy ground attack. Wake Forest capitalizes on its ability to create turnovers, and have relied on their defense to win games. Linebacker Aaron Curry and cornerback Alphonso Smith lead the Demon Deacons’ defense, ranked 19th best in the country overall, allowing 300.33 yards per game; the unit is also allowing just 116.1 yards on the ground. Quarterback Riley Skinner and the offense have struggled in the red zone with only 20 touchdowns in 41 trips. Part of the problem has been the shaky play of the offensive line, which may have also been a factor in the lack of consistency in the running game. Navy will make its sixth straight bowl appearance, and hasn’t allowed a single point over its past eight quarters. In the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season, the Midshipmen were able to force six turnovers. Navy comes in winners in four of their last five, the last two being shutouts. With that being said, it is the running game, not the defense that is the strength of this Midshipmen squad. Tailback Shun White – who leads the nation in rushing with 298.33 yards per game – should be heavily utilized. Quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who left the first meeting with a hamstring injury, is also expected to be completely healthy for the game.

Inside the Numbers – Pass, Run & Catch:

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-5, 4-4)

Pass: Riley Skinner – 2,181 yards, 12 TDs
Run: Brandon Pendergrass – 528 yards, 5 TDs
Catch: D.J. Boldin – 77-782-3 TDs

Navy Midshipmen (8-4)

Pass: Jarod Bryant – 275 yards, 2 TDs
Run: Shun White – 1021 yards, 9 TDs
Catch: Tyree Barnes – 18-368-2 TDs

Photo Courtesy: Brian Westerholt of Sports on Film (Wake Fores University)