Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CFN Previews Navy's 2007 Campaign

Well, it's that time of year again. Collegefootballnews.com, the only 365(ish) day-a-year college football website not run by the World Wide Leader, has released its 2007 preview of the Navy Midshipmen. The preview is really not that bad, as the folks at CFN seem to have finally come around to the idea that Navy is a legitimate Bowl team, and that as long as Paul Johnson is at the helm, the Mids are "here to stay" so to speak in the world of college football. There are, however, some interesting comments made by writer Pete Fiutak, who doesn't seem to lack a solid grasp on the backup personnel on this team. That's not really surprising, and I don't hold Mr. Fiutak particularly responsible for several of these misconceptions, since, let's face it, the guy is doing previews for 119 teams. Still, let me address these issues, and try to establish some clarity.

The attention given to Navy's slotbacks is admirable and warranted, but I think sometimes the "big media" loses sight of just how important the offensive line and receivers are in order to produce those huge lanes for the slotbacks to take advantage of. I'm not questioning the speed or athleticism of a Reggie Campbell or a Shun White, and I'll be the first to attest that both of those individuals, along with Zerb Singleton, have the ability to make guys miss in the open field and to outrun opposing defenses. Yet without good execution beginning with the QB-FB mesh, and moving to the outside, these gains would be impossible.

This leads to perhaps my biggest disagreement with the article, which gives the Midshipmen receivers a grade of 3.5. O.J. Washington and Tyree Barnes may not be Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, but they both do a solid job in stalk blocking and are athletic enough to make plays when Navy does decide to throw the ball. As mentioned before, Greg Sudderth also has a chance to be a real productive receiver in both the blocking and receiving facets of the game, and I liked how the article made mention of his athletic ability. The receivers do, generally, a good job in what they are suppose to do, and can only be as effective in the passing game as the quarterback allows them to be. After all, how many times did we see O.J. or Jason Tomlinson streak wide open down the field last year, only to be overthrown? To be perfectly honest, I think our wideouts are better than people think, although I do agree that depth is something of an issue. For what it's worth, I give this unit a grade of a 6.

Mr. Fiutak makes another questionable point with FB Eric Kettani, who he says isn't "near the talent Ballard is." While everyone knows I'm a huge Adam Ballard fan, Mr. Fiutak obviously misses the mark with Kettani, who coach Johnson believes will continue to give Ballard a run for his money during the fall practice sessions. Kettani is an explosive runner with great hips and tremendous vision, and plays with good pad level which allows him to bounce off tacklex at will. While Mr. Fiutak calls backup fullback the weakness of this team, I have to think its actually a major strength, and would venture to say that even the third string fullback, Kevin Campbell, has a real upside as well. Furthermore, Mr. Fiutak overestimates the role of Matt Hall, who was really being phased out as a backup for Kettnai midway trough the year due to fumbling problems. And while Ballard should have a monster year, I think Kettani has more NFL potential, if only because he fits the mold of a a pro set "running back" better than Ballard.

Other than those points, like I said I think Mr. Fituak did a very good job. He seems right to draw the success/fail mark at around eight wins, and points out (as he's done in the past) that the most important game of the season really comes in the October matchup against Air Force. Unfortunately this will most likely be the only Navy preview out for some time, until the summer guides come out sometime in June (including the all important Phil Steele magazine.)

1 comment:

Gary said...

I beg to differ on what would be considered Navys most important game.
I would say that would be the game vs. Wake Forest.
The 2nd week vs Rutgers will be a huge barometer of the team but Wake comes at the end of October and by then the teams destiny of how far they can go should almost be established (there is no reason to think they should not beat Air Force again-NONE).
Normally I would always say the Notre Dame game is the most important game of the year and usually has been (since its the game of break or make for Navy true respect from AP polling.
But to beat a very good Wake team that should be ranked-well to me thats the most important game.
Yes we will be there loud and proud of the Mids-along witha great road trip game to see the Mids devour Temple in front of 40,000 Navy fans in Philly.
Cant wait to see more reviews as we get closer to August.