Friday, June 01, 2007

Scouting the Previews: Athlon Regional

So I stopped off at the magazine store today and was a little disappointed to see that most of the college football previews had yet to come in. I knew for sure that only Lindy's would be out already, but for some reason I felt I might get lucky and find some other previews. Unfortunately it was mostly just leftover NFL draft magazines, but there were several 2007 Athlon Regional (ACC) magazines available, so I picked one up. There were also Lindy's National and Lindy's Regional (SEC) available, but I'm not a fan of Lindy's so I passed. A quick word on Lindy's; The magazine has a nice design and feel and the regional coverage isn't bad, but the National magazine devotes very little space to non-BCS teams and only about a half a page to the Midshipmen. It's been like this every year and despite thinking it might change it really doesn't, and since I buy enough National magazines as it is I didn't need another one telling me what I already knew lying around the house. The Lindy's regionals, like I said, are not bad, but for some reason the store I was in received SEC previews (in Maryland of all places), and as some of you know I'm not terribly interested in the SEC conference.

As for the Athlon Regional I bought, I've found it really to be one of the better preview magazines out there. Of course I'm an unabashed Phil Steele enthusiast, but getting four pages on Navy coverage (albeit nothing new for me) out of Athlon is not half bad. There are some cool features that are standard to all the regional magazines, including rundowns on preseason Top 25 predictions, recruiting class rankings, and just general listmania of anything and everything. Since this is a Navy preview I won't bore you with all the details, but I'd suggest checking one of these out if you get the chance.

First things first. Navy's own Paul Johnson was ranked as the best"underrated coach" in the country out of six coaches listed. Here's what the blurb said...

Few coaches have been to the White House as often as Johnson, who has made visits each of the past four seasons after Navy's has won the Commander in Chief Trophy. Navy is 8-0 the past four years against the Service Academies.

Nothing new there for Navy fans, but it's good to see Johnson get some recognition. Another interesting note is that the magazine listed Air Force as one of it's five "programs in decline." The Midshipmen are ranked 48th in the Nation by Athlon for the projected rankings, which is 16 spots higher than Lindy's, which ranked the Midshipmen at 64th in the country. Navy's 2007 opponents are projected as followed, with a little commentary by yours truly...

Rutgers #10 (Too High)
Wake Forest #32 (Sounds Right)
Notre Dame #38 (Sounds Right)
Pitt #55 (Sounds Right)
Air Force #87 (A bit low, based on strength of MWC)
Ball State #93 (Much too low)
Northern Illinois #96 (maybe a little low)
Duke #98 (sounds right)
Army #111 (a little low)
North Texas #114 (a little low)
Temple #115 (sounds right)

Because Delaware is a FCS team, they were not projected in the rankings. Athlon predicts eight wins and three loses for the Midshipmen, with what they call a "crucial game" against Pitt (a game that could go either way.) I'm not going to pick apart the analysis, but it's more or less what I'd predict if I were made to predict how the 2007 season would shake down. The projected loses are to (no shock here) Notre Dame, Rutgers, and Wake. For what it's worth, I think the Mids can be competitive against all of those teams, in particular Wake Forest, which does not tend to blow people out. More on that later this summer...

Some other random points. Wide receiver Tyree Barnes is listed as the "rising star" while a lot of credit is given to not only to Paul Johnson, but his staff. Sometimes as fans we overlook the staff, and I think its important to remember just how good of a job the position coaches do in this system. Other than that, the preview is pretty standard, and it's nothing we haven't heard before. I'll have an update sometime next week on further previews that should begin to come out, including, well, you know.

B+ for Navy coverage, A- for ACC coverage. Love the love for Wake for what it's worth.

3 comments:

Gary said...

I too enjoy Phil Steeles magazine as it contains so much more valuable information.
He does project Navy as the 07 NCAA rushing leading team which shows respect.
However with most publications the respect is short lived as Steele ranks Navy #75(?????) and Athlon puts them at #48(still low).
The football media always tend to treat the Mids as a "mid level nice program team", well below the good teams and floundering a bit above the lower levels.
The reason for this can be found in your poll of a signature WIN.
To me this team has achieved great strides to respect and especially to Navy fans and service academy fans who recall the dark years before PJ came aboard.
While that is acknowledged by myself with the utmost respect and gratitude I cant help but thinking that something is missing.
Yes the Bowl games and count this years in there too have been great and huge to the program.
The teams record is excellent and beyond our wildest dreams...but????
The issue is we have not had a "signature win" and only last year did we play in a more respected and recognized Bowl game.
The signature win?
That is what has to come against the likes of Notre Dame, Rutgers, Pitt,Wake Forest games.
I think a signature gamewould have been against BC in last years Bowl game.
But we all know the ultimate stamp of a signature win will be against NOTRE DAME.
While all these CIC trophies are nice to have and will continue for years after until PJ leaves the Academy- still there are too many wins agaisnt the likes of Rice-Eastern Michigan-Duke Kent State etc....and not that signature win.
In addition the Mids while getting that Poinesttia Bowl this year before stepping on the field is a nice thing to have in their pocket.
Wouldnt it still be nice to know they have a CHOICE of other Bowls that may be interseted in them too?
If they stayed in the Meineke they would face a well known ACC team as opposed to the lesser knowns of the MWC.
The Poinsettia is one of those games that ESPN and others treat as a "lets get this one over with" game and stick it on a bad day and bad starting time that gives it little if any mention in the media.
We brought so much to last years Meineke that it was exciting and nice to play an ex competitor from the now defunct "real Big East.
Again while this success is noce and its hard to even raise a slight complaint it would be great to get that signature win (this year and get back to a Top 25 ranking.
Its too bad but the year we were # 24 we really could have gone as high as 20 and a Top 20 is just about the absolute best and service adacemy team could ever hope for.
I do see this year as a 9-10 win regular season and it starts with a big win in front of a huge Navy crowd against Temple.
I cant wait and getting these magazines only fuels that hunger.

Adam said...

I too was surprised by Mr. Steele's ranking buy was pleased in the Athlon analysis. 48 is about where I would rank the Midshipmen and a very fair assessment especially when you consider this team only returns two defensive starters and must undergo a mini overhaul of the O-line. If the team did win nine games this year I think they would receive a considerable amount of respect especially when you factor in the kind of teams they will be playing. I think aiming between the 6-8 win mark in "rebuilding" years is more than good enough, while teams that return a lot of players (like the teams of 2004 and 2006) can start to consider going after the coveted 10 wins. Keep in mind the schedule begins to stiffen over the next few years, and considering the expanded national coverage this team gets it's only a matter of time until the Mids pull a considerable upset that gets Gameday type publicity.

Gary said...

Adam-
From your mouth to Gods ear- I live for that DAY when we get that huge upset and attain that ESPN Game Day recognition.
I always hear from so many- "who cares what ESPN thinks"?
Well as a college football fan I say- EVERYONE.
BEAT NOTRE DAME!
But we still need to go in there with 6 wins.
See any trap games?
I see a real bad one this year- Delaware is THE trap game after the Mids gear up to play AFA -Pitt and Wake- that game is the ULTRA trap game.
We tend to trip up somewhere along the year and lose a game we should win or had-that Tulsa game stuck in my craw all year long- if we had won that we would have done better than the Meineke too.