Saturday, September 22, 2007

I am an Idiot

Dear Fellow Navy Fans,

I am an idiot.

Why, you ask, am I an idiot? Well, to put it bluntly, I just missed the single greatest Navy comeback since the 2005 Air Force game. Let me attempt to explain.

I was one of what I can only presume to be a fair amount of fans who left today's game early. With a paper for my old English literature class due Monday that I have still yet to start and the pressing need to get some exercises for the day, I made, with some four minutes left in the fourth quarter, one of the biggest strategic blunders since Mussolini's invasion of Greece in 1940. I don't ask for sympathy, and I don't reckon I deserve any either, but what transpired within the next hour was the single greatest thing I have ever heard via the radio.

Let's back it up. Duke had us on the ropes late in the third quarter, as Thaddeus Lewis suddenly turned into Donovan McNabb and systematically picked apart our defense en route to a 428 yard day through the air. Duke was well on it's way to another score when Duke running back Re'Quan Boyette seemingly just gave the ball to Navy linebacker Tony Haberer on a bizarre fumble sequence, after which Navy managed to do next to nothing on the ensuring series. It was at this point that I had had it. With my forearms looking like the middle of a poorly cooked steak and the general aura of "we're about to give up 50 to Duke" I made the aforementioned decision to pack it up. Obviously this makes me a horrible fan, so I give you all permission to chastise me for the next week. Nevertheless, as I left the stadium I couldn't help but feel that this was one of, if not the worst game the team has played within the past five years, and as I heard the roar of the Brigade behind me I knew Lewis and the Blue Devils were closing in again. When my father and I got to the car, I didn't even bother to see what Bob and Omar had to say, I just turned it to music.

And so began the usual chatter. You know, the "I can't believe we lost to Duke" chatter, followed of course by the proverbial "we're going to get killed next week" kind of chatter. Then of course comes the awkward silence of presumed defeat, followed by the sinking feeling of knowing that the outlook for you week just got a whole lot bleaker. Then, for no apparent reason, something happened.

My father wanted to check WNAV. I had no idea why, but thinking the game was probably about in the books I offered no resistance. Amazingly, Navy had not been buried beneath a hail of Duke touchdowns, and "only" found themselves down by eleven with most of the fourth quarter left. After Joey Bullen barely knocked in a 35 yard field goal we told ourselves that it was nice, but that there was no way we were coming back. At this point I guess I should mention that whenever my Father and I talk football, we always do it in terms of what should happen if something else happens first. For instance, "if we stop them on this series than Jarod and the offense should go for two if they score a touchdown." Then one of us (usually me) says something along the lines of "but we're not gonna stop them." Once again my friends, I am an idiot. Anyway, the next ten minutes we're incredible, with Omar, Bob, and John (but especially John) basically going crazy in the booth. With cautious optimism I held out hope, in the back of my mind kicking myself for not staying a few more minutes just to see what Duke did with the football. First came Bullen's 35-yarder, then the defense stopping an ultra-conservative Duke attack. Then the fun part. Jarod leads the offense down the field, punching the ball in as he catches a pass from slotback Bobby Doyle. Pandemonium on the airwaves as Bob Socci's voice fluctuates with the intensity of a 13 year old boy jacked up on candy and Nintendo, which in this circumstance was perfectly understandable. Then it happened.

After Navy hit the two point conversion Duke appeared to fumble on the ensuring kickoff. However, after the review, the officials gave the Blue Devils the football, at which point anyone listening to the radio expected John Feinstein to unleash a hail of f-bombs. Amazingly, Mr. Feinstein showed remarkable restraint (unlike myself), and as I was ready to toss myself from a moving vehicle he checked himself. That was it though, we told ourselves, that was the game. Can't help the fact that the officials screwed us, again.

At this point I was tempted to turn from WNAV, perhaps letting some old country music song about some guys girl who up and "rund off" take over the last mile or two of road before home. But, knowing that I needed at least some closure as far as the game was concerned, decided against it, and instead allowed myself to listen to Thaddeus Lewis march the Blue Devils down the field en route to what figured to be an easy score. Then came a key third and eleven which Duke needed to get to even think about a field goal, and just as Ball State did last week, so did the Blue Devils pick it up in a third and long situation. Now sitting in my driveway looking like a schmuck I was finally ready to turn the game off and be done with it, but to my complete and utter befuddlement (as well as Mr. Feinstein's) Duke was called for holding. Breathing a sigh of relief I prepared for the ensuring 3rd and 21, swearing that if the Blue Devils converted I would hurl myself wildly off the three foot embankment on the side of my driveway. Then, it happened. Not a second after Ketric Buffin's interception at the 18 yard line, I let out a bellowing "I AM AN IDIOT" (plus or minus some other words mixed in there) before flashing a a willy grin and parking myself next to the car and preparing myself for overtime.

I have to admit, after last week I still didn't think we would win, and if we were to win I recognized that it would probably have to come with the less than a minute left in regulation Jarod had left. Amazing, I told myself, that he should find himself in the same situation as last week. You of course know the rest better than I do, but as Jarod drove the Midshipmen into field goal range it started to become clear that after last week's heart breaker the junior from Hoover, Alabama was not going to let it happen again. Apparently neither was Paul Johnson, who put in Mr. Cool (aka Joey Bullen) to attempt the 44-yard game winner with four seconds left. Immediately my mind flashed back the the 2005 Air Force game in which Bullen nailed a game winner from 47-yard out on a day in which I had the foresight to actually stick with my team. I expected Duke to try to ice him, but Ted Roof, knowing that Joey Bullen is the uniceable iceman who eats ice for breakfast (with skim milk), figured it was pointless. So as that 44 yard field goal split the uprights and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium rocked the afternoon sky over Annapolis, I sat flabbergasted in my driveway, ecstatic over the win while incredibly disappointed of my attributes as a Navy fan. I've seen a lot of great finishes over the years, but I'd have to say this one ranks among the top, perhaps even approaching the 2005 Air Force game in drama and late game heroics. And to think that I had to hear it on the damn radio.

Once again, let me concede that I am indeed and idiot.


What we saw today was not pretty, not by any stretch of the imagination. Navy's defense was systematically sliced, diced, and chopped during the first half, and despite scoring points and moving the football, Navy's offense once again turned the ball over at key times. Yet for all the pain of three quarters of play, what you did see (and I hope, unlike me, that you actually did see it) was a group of young men who never quit and fought to the the very end. We as fans and armchair commentators often throw around words like character and perseverance, and often times use these terms too liberally. But with a much maligned and very young defense, I think it's more than appropriate to say that this entire team showed a lot of character today, and that the efforts of the players and coaching staff proved that this team is not going to role over and play for next year.

Don't get hung up on the fact that it was Duke. This is the mistake I made when I decided to leave the stadium today. This was the mistake I made as I sat roasting in the autumn sun at halftime, somehow trying to find the good in a game that looked like it was going south quickly. If there has been one thing we all have learned from four weeks of the 2007 college football season, it's that competitive parody has reached an all time high, and that style points matter only for those with a championship in mind. Heck, Ball State should have beaten Nebraska today, and put up more yards on their defense than they did on ours. And our pain is nothing compared to the folks in Louisville, who saw their Top 20 team get buried by an 0-3 'Cuse team with a quarterback I was watching carve up my alma mater just two short years ago in Baltimore. I can't tell you whether or not this win will get us back on track, but I can say that it gives us a chance. In the Any Given Saturday environment we find ourselves in, coming out with the win becomes the most important thing, and in that respect we can say that the team did exactly what it needed to today. Strap on your seatbelts guys, because whether your a pessimist or an optimist in your outlook, it certainly looks like we're all in for a wild ride the rest of the way.

All of you who stayed are all great Americans,



Gary said...

You must believe in the power of JB!
If this game showed anything (and it was the most exciting comeback I have ever seen from them) it is that -the time is now to lat JB start vs AFA!
Its time and what more need he show all those Navy fan non believers that we have nothing better than Kaipo?
Its now 2 weeks and the kid has shown all why he was Mr Alabama High football- and while Kaipo had a nice day going-he could not finish the deal and if PJ stayed with him we would have lost by even more when JB took over.
How was Kaipo winded? Thats the excuse PJ will use so he doesnt hurt Kaipos feelings and allows him to again start this week?
Come on I know it was hot but the Duke QB stayed the entire game and it was obvious that JB did more work and effort in that 1 quarter than Kaipo exerted the entire time he was in there.
We were headed to sure death and despair to a 1-3 record and a guaranteed 1-4 aftet losing to AFA.
Now JB has resurrected this team and made NMC riock like it never has before (although the fans that were there SUCKED until JB lead his miracle quarter comeback- all on his shoulders!
Yes Bullen kicked the FG but the hero was Jarod Bryant the man I have been asking to see in there since last years Rutgers game!
I have had to endure all kinds of attacks from the Kaipo crowd-"what do you have against Kaipo"?
Well nothing personal but maybe now some of those who have jumped on me will now see the light.
You tell me who the players now want to see in there?
Who is a true leader?
I did not see one timid -turtle like move- or acceptance of a sack without bulldog effort.
Too many times we have seen Kaipo lay down or face away a hit-not once did JB show that yesterday.
He energized the typically dead Navy fans- the defense and the offense and PJ all in only 1 quarter.
He rescued what was a dead and beaten Navy team that had enough after Kaipo could not do anything in the 3rd quarter.
We all know we wre on the road to a disaster season and suddenly like the Flutie like person he appears to be JB took the game under control and refused to lose.
Ok all the Kaipo fans will say:
1- Kaipo did not lose the job.
2. Thats what a backup QB is there for and all JB did was his expected job.
3-Duke was totally winded and had no chance against Navy in the 4th quarter anyway.
Well hey look - NO FUMBLES from the fumble prone JB?
He took more tough hits than Kaipo in his turn and was able to bounce off and keep going.
His great run where he even lost a step to tug on his facemask was one of the greatest QB runs here since Roger Staubach.
His dive for the 2 points - looked just like Doug Flutie in his great days- that after making a great catch for the TD.
For all you who think he has no right to start vs AFA- Well if PJ has that same attitude and is afraid to make a change (fear of change-is fear itself!)then he is not a good enough coach to drop his loyalty and realize in his gut that "he just witnessed something special and JB deserves to be rewarded with a start.
Can we finally see an entire few games with JB in there?
When can he prove that he should be the starter or will it be "well lets see it again".
This was the third time (like last year vs Rutgers) that he was put in a no win situation.
Lets face it he has not even been given the benefit of an entire half.
Yesterdays miracle win only boldly stated thet he is here to stay as a starting QB- Just give me the chance-give me the ball.
The ball is now in PJ`s court!
Lets hope he does not expect 1 quarter miracles every time he tosses JB in there.
Its not an isult to tell another QB that you want to see how the team goes with someone else-
Thats your job as a coach.
I also say to those who would point to Kaipos passing game yesterday with the same BS those tossed at me-
How do you know JB would not ahve done that much or better.
Finally I think I can turn the tables on the JB naysayers/Kaipo protectors.
Come on PJ lets see some fair competition- after all you looked pretty damn happy and excited jumping into the victory pile courtesy of JB.
Its almost time when we will see JB the ND slayer in action too- he will guarantee us a win vs ND this year-
If Kaipo were in there-there is a great chance we lose again even against a sub par ND team.
Hey maybe you think I am saying too much- but again - thats what these placesw are for arent they!

Justin said...

I think Kaipo is a great player. But, I think he looks way to awkward running the option. I think he needs to see some playing time, but JB deserves the start. He is former true QB that learned how to run the option. He is a FLAT OUT WINNER!!! This guy has some guts. I think he could be compared to...well Craig Candeto. Not an amazing athlete, but he is an animal on the field. He shows no fear and fits the mold as a NAVY QB. All in all I think a 2 QB system is coming soon.

Adam said...

For the record, I think they both played well and I'm glad we have a guy who can come in and not lose a step if the other guy goes down.

Football Dad Dan said...

Jarod Bryant "will guarentee us a win vs Notre Dame"??? ---> Did you not see how our defense made that Duke QB & one WR look like "viable" Heisman Trophy candidates! )o:
What "magical dust" is going to FIX the Navy defense & allow them to stop the physically huge Irish from pushing us all over the field??? Clausen may be a frosh, ... but he is no "chump", and where is the pass rush pressure gonna come from???
---> Duke receivers were WIDE OPEN just about every play ... and the tackling was god awful. A few Duke "drops" down the stretch ... combined with those two (finally called) holding penalties were instrumental in Navy getting the "W". Max credit to the players for not giving up ---> At least somebody remembered their "Reef Points" naval quotes.
Bryant played great w/o a doubt, ... I guess we'll see who earns the starting nod during practice this week.