Analysis: Navy is going to move the ball, that's a given. The Midshipmen return almost all their skill players from last season and a revamped line which has earned some high praise this offseason. We've been hearing a lot about Temple's "new and improved" defense over the past couple of weeks but it remains to be seen what, if any, improvements were made over the offseason. I tend to think that Temple's defensive line will have some success up the middle, but I really question the ability of Temple's linebackers and defensive backs to cover their assignments against Navy's speedy offense. Despite the fact that Navy's offense may need some time to to shake off the rust coupled with the trend that defense usually dominates openers, I look for the a veteran and athletic Navy offense to overcome whatever improvements Temple has made defensively.
Temple Offense vs. Navy Defense
Analysis: Temple should be able to move the ball, and their offense should manage to score more points than the six they managed last season, but I just don't see DiMichele and com pony having the same advantages over the defense that Navy's offense has. We've all made our predictions about Navy's defense, and I think the most reasonable thing to expect is that they will bend early but should do what's necessary for the team to win. I don't buy the idea that Temple's offensive line will be that much better than last year's version, and I actually expect Navy to get to the quarterback two or three times in the course of the game. At this point I'd be more surprised to see the defense perform surprisingly horrible than surprisingly well. The biggest question is going to be can Adam DiMichele show up and see the field, and if he can will he be able to get the ball to his talented group of wide receivers? Because Buddy Green will be on the watch against the big play, Temple is going to have to earn their points, and I think that's much easier said than done.
Analysis: Temple's home field advantage isn't that substantial even if 60,00+ do show up (in and of itself a big if.) Temple has the odd and perhaps fortunate luck of playing Navy twice in a row, a factor which should give the team extra determination to come into the game firing. Both teams are more or less healthy, with Navy only missing third string fullback and future badass Kevin Campbell. One thing that is worth noting is while Navy may not be as experienced as Temple on the defensive side of the ball, Navy's roster and two-deep is much more upperclassman-heavy than Temple's.
Analysis: This should be a no-brainer, and it is. Al Golden may be a charismatic guy who can rebuild this Temple team into a winner, but on the field Paul Johnson is the master. If Navy struggles early, look for his adjustments to help the Midshipmen pull away after halftime.
The Final Verdict
I think most Navy fans are looking at this game with cautious optimism, and considering how much better Temple may be, that may be a good way to look at it. It's probably unrealistic to expect Navy to come out with guns blazing and everything clicking, but it's also unrealistic to expect Temple to come out that way too. I think we're going to see a situation where Navy scores on their first series, but ends up having some growing pains in the first half. I've been an optimist on our defense all offseason and I'm not about to change that opinion, and considering just how poorly Temple's offense played at the end of last season I just can't conceive that big of an improvement. After some sloppy play early the Mids buckle down and dominate the second half. Navy wins, 34-21.