Friday, July 14, 2006

2006 Spring Opponent Preview - United States Naval Academy Midshipmen

Top player: Rob Caldwell, LB
Make-or-break player: O.J. Washington, WR
Biggest offensive strength: Running Back
Biggest offensive weakness: using the Forward Pass
Biggest defensive strength: Linebackers
Biggest defensive weakness: ?
Spring Depth Chart

There are actually three certainties in life - death, taxes, and the Irish beating Navy. While this year will be no exception, this Navy team actually has the potential to win 10 games behind a potent rushing attack and a schedule that is softer than Charmin.

Navy had the top rushing aattack last year, averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground. However, only Rice had a worse passing game last year. Navy's wishbone offense is different, and is difficult to defend against. Their entire offensive philosophy is to use misdirection effectively such that each carry will net at least 3 yards. They do so effectively, averaging over 5 yards per carry last year.

However, if Navy ever wants to win games against quality opponents, it is going to have to learn to use that same misdirection to free up a few receivers down the field. Against teams like the Irish, Navy will face man coverage, with 8-9 guys in the box to defend the run. If they don't start to take better advantage of the single coverage, they will NEVER even come close to beating the Notre Dames of the world.

Navy does have a speedster in receiver O.J. Washington, and if they can utilize him better early in games to take a lead, their ball-control offense can keep them in games until the end, giving them a chance to pull out a big win.

Navy's defense is, in a word, average. They aren't great, but they aren't too bad either. They are ranked in the mid 60s (middle of the road) in almost every category. However, considering that Navy is undersized when they play everyone but Army and Air Force, they are highly underrated. And their linebackers are VERY good. Caldwell finished second in the nation in tackles last year, and many think Tidwell is actually a better player. However, unless they find some real speed for their corners or some true explosiveness on the ends, the linebackers will be underutilized.

Navy simply doesn't do enough on either side of the ball to really challenge the Irish. Their quirky offense will move the ball and score some points, but not nearly enough to keep up with the Irish offense.

9/2East CaarolinaW
9/16at StanfordL
9/30at ConnecticutW
10/7at Air ForceW
10/28Notre DameL
11/4at DukeW
11/11at Eastern MichiganW
12/2vs. ArmyW

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