Navy assistant coach Danny O’Rourke announced Tuesday DeBrandon Sanders would make his first collegiate start against Western Kentucky on Saturday, bumping slot back Geoffrey Whiteside, who might sit out the whole game, from the starting lineup.
Whiteside, a junior, made his debut as a starter in the Midshipmen’s season opener against Indiana on Sept. 7, when he rushed for 97 yards in nine tries, according to his ESPN player card. His next start came a week later against Delaware. That time, he rushed 30 yards in three attempts with two touchdowns, bringing his average yards per rush to 10.6.
But Sanders, a sophomore, in seven carries this season (just five less than Whiteside) has gained 86 yards for a yards per rush average of 12.3. In an ideal world where Sanders’ average stood and he carried the ball five more times without Whiteside getting action, he’d have 147 yards to Whiteside’s 127.
Since Western Kentucky’s opponents have averaged 5.1 yards per rush attempt, Navy would benefit from starting the running back with the second-best rushing average on the team. Granted, Sanders’ sample size is smaller in comparison to Whiteside’s, but Sanders has another thing going for him. Against Delaware, he ran for 86 yards on three catches, including a 63-yard reception where he connected with quarterback Keenan Reynolds for a touchdown, the first of Sanders’ career. Whiteside has yet to catch a touchdown pass in his three receptions this season.