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

Thursday, July 13, 2006

College logos

I just read some stupid website that ranked the top 10 college logos, and they put Clemson's paw print first. Now, I may be a little biased towards the Irish, but a paw print is neither original or creative. Also, I do not see a paw print and immediately think Clemson - I think oh, how cute, some little kids football logo - the bears or cubs or somesuch.

So, I will now attempt a list of the 10 best college logos. For the sake of this list I considered the best combination of the mascot caricature and/or lettered logo. So, the Irish get bonus points for both the leprechaun logo and the interlocking ND. So, let's begin:


Notre Dame Fightin' Irish
The most recognizable pair of logos in college sport. (I admit, I'm biased, but there are few logos that are as recognizable in college sports; only the Yankees logo and Dallas Cowboys star are comparable)

2. (tie)

Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State is one of those rare logos that stands alone, so much so that there is no "letter logo." Just the Nittany Lion is enough. Classic.

Texas Longhorns
Again, a logo so distinctive, it stands alone. Hook 'em Horns.

(Usually, these logos stand alone without the accompanying name - the site I've been referencing for these logos doesn't actually have the logos I wanted)


Duke Blue Devils
This is one of those logos that has it all - the letter, the mascot, the recognizability. High marks.


Miami Hurricanes
I hate the Hurricanes, and I find their "mascot logo" to be tacky. However, the "U" does clearly belong to Miami, so much so that they've taken to calling themselves just "The U." So, I begrudgingly put them high on my list.


University of Southern California Trojans
One of the true classics, the simple, understated design has become recognizable through the years as SC has worked to become a legendary university in football. Thus, they get a boost, despite lacking in creativity.


Georgetown Hoyas
Much like the Irish, the Hoyas have a clearly recognizable mascot. Unlike the Irish, however, the Hoyas letter logo leaves something to desired, and dropped them down in my rankings.


Washington State Cougars
Possibly the most creative logo to make the list, this one gets high marks for seamlessly combining the "mascot logo" with the "letter logo." If only they were good enough at anything to be more recognizable...


Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State would be higher on my list, as Brutus Buckeye is a good mascot caricature, and the Ohio State logo is very distinctive. Also, they do have a high "recognition" factor. However, I have a soft spot for logos that don't hit you over the head, as Ohio State's does - a simple OSU logo would have impressed me more.


Iowa Hawkeyes
Another great logo that requires no letters to be clear who they are referring to (ala Penn State and Texas). However, the logo is not as recognizable as some others.

Honorable Mention (alphabetical order):

Next Week: Helmets