Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday Night Notations

Lose track of what's going on with the Mids after watching USC fall to Stanford and Notre Dame pick up it's first win of the year? Not to worry, I've got your weekend update.

Shun ready to Go: I made the mistake last week of assuming Shun would bounce back from an ankle injury suffered against Duke and make the game against Air Force. As you know he didn't even dress for the game, but should be ready to go this week after Coach Johnson indicated Shun did in fact practice on Friday. Having Shun in the game is big for a couple of reasons, the most obvious being that he's a sub 4.5 guy who gives Navy's offense another home run hitter. However, it's also important to get Shun back because it takes the strain off of using Zerb and Reggie too much, and frees up one of those players to block on plays isolating the opposite slot back. Considering the size of Pitt's defensive front and the looks Navy has given in the past, I think we can expect to see Shun get his fair share of toss-sweeps this Wednesday night.

Right Corner Still Up For Grabs: It's been a revolving door opposite Rashawn King all year long, and five games in it doesn't look like Buddy Green is any closer to finding a permanent starter. You may recall that Darius Terry had started against Ball State and Duke, being briefly replaced at times by senior Greg Thrasher. However, after allowing several big plays down the field Coach Green decided to go with sophomore Blake Carter against Air Force last week. I like Carter in run support, but he wasn't tested much in coverage against Air Force. For him to keep the job, he's going to have to show the ability to keep the receiver in front of him and not give up big plays- something Terry and Thrasher have struggled with this season.

Nechak on the End: Matt Nechak, Navy's promising young outside linebacker, has been moved down to second string defensive end position in an attempt to get him into the game more as a situational pass rusher. Bill Wagner runs down the rest of the defense in his latest article for the Crabwrapper.

North Texas Struggling: I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to watch a number of games this weekend, including some of Navy's future opponents. First and foremost, North Texas. I admire what coach Dodge is trying to do down there, and as I said in the offseason I think he's got the program headed in the right direction, but if you think North Texas is even a decent team at this point you need to get your head examined. That's not to say Navy could not still lose to the Mean Green, because if we've learned anything at all this season it's that anyone, and I mean anyone, can beat anyone else. But still, anyone who watched the Mean Green will tell you that they are running an offense with the wrong personnel, and they just don't look particularly skilled or athletic on either side of the football. Combine that with the youth of the team, and it's likely going to be a very trying rest of the way for coach Dodge and his group. I wish them all the best, just not against us.

The "Year After" Effect: In 2005 Navy beat up on a one win Rice team. The next season Rice went 7-6 in an unprecedented run of success. Also in 2005, Navy survived a Kent State team which similarly found itself at the bottom of the country in terms of wins. In 2006 they turned it around and went 6-6. This year we're seeing more examples of what I've come to describe as the "year after effect" in which traditionally mediocre teams suddenly become decent, if not outright good, the year after losing to Navy and ending the series. Remember last year's UConn team, which went 4-8 and was blown out by the Midshipmen? Well, they now find themselves at 5-0 and in the coveted "Others Receiving Votes Category." Likewise, a Stanford team Navy beat up on last year, minus their starting quarterback, managed to pull off maybe the biggest upset ever against USC just last night! What to make of this I have no idea, but I guess it doesn't do anything for the strength of schedule argument.

Reading the Option 101: Phelix has you covered with a great piece on what it means to "read" an the defense on an option play. Be sure to check it out, he really knows his stuff.


Football Dad Dan said...

Shun White being back & @ 100% is certainly a good thing for Navy, ... but the "sad" thing is that PJ has had three other "practice-tested" & excellent Slot Backs just standing on the sidelines, ... all who could have been used to "spell" Reggie and Zerbe. If you have ever attended Navy practices/scrimmages, ... it's not to hard to observe that Oswald, Doyle, & especially Shinego have talent, work hard, know the offense, AND performed. I'd wager my bottom $$ that Greg is just about as fast as Shun (and oh bye the way doesn't fumble)!
Everything published "bragged" about the wealth of talent & depth Navy had @ Slot Back, ... but once again PJ just relies on 2-3 guys during the game, ... and never rotates these other guys in for some quality "PT". --> Last seaon, not even during blow-out wins vs. Stanford, UCONN, Duke, EMICH, & Temple. He did the same thing with the senior-laden defense as well, ... and look what we have now. )o:
Shame, shame, shame ... These kids bust their butts & deserve the opportunity to rotate in once in a while, ... to not only give the starters a little breather, but more importantly to gain some game experiance. For as brillant as a coach PJ is, ... he has certainly dropped the ball in this area. This man's opinion.

Adam said...

I agree, and going back to last spring I was convinced that those same guys you talked about could be key situational contributors. It's tough to say whether or not everyone should be playing because of how well the top three guys have been, but you just hope that if one of those guys isn't fresh in the second half that PJ would be willing to plug Greg or Bobby or Scott in. I fully agree on getting guys experience, but when you don’t have the game in hand in the fourth quarter it’s tough to start experimenting with different personnel unless you have to.

phelix said...

i'm going to guess that comment isn't an impartial evaluation of the situation.

Football Dad Dan said...

And your point is what exactly??? ----> Please feel most welcome to "shoot a hole" in ANYTHING I have stated. I have watched a few practices, ... and watched the spring game + both scrimmages, and many, many games. I
think I'm fairly accurate in my assessment.
Adam, ... Isn't practice where the coaches get to "experiment w/ different personnel", ... so you know who can "perform" in the game??? PJ didn't rotate his back-up guys in hardly @ all last season when Navy had plenty of games "in hand", ... and frankly the defense is so poor this seaon, ... I'd wager Navy won't enjoy that "luxury" @ all.

Gary said...

May I also toss in JB as a replacement for Kaipo if things arent going well vs Pitt.
We will know early enough-but if thats the case will PJ react early enough?
It would be good to see some of that talent get some time and not play "your" faves all the time.
While you cant complain about the record you still wonder what talent is being supressed because of total dependancy of starters only.
We hear every year that jobs and competition are wide open-yet it never seems to happen.
You would think we would do this more often because of trying to keep our smaller players-fresh.

phelix said...

My point is that A-back exhaustion isn't exactly an issue with this team, so saying that kids could get a breather is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

My point is also that this team has about 100 guys that bust their butt every day in practice, and there are more than just backup A-backs that aren't getting into the game. This isn't little league, which I am sure you are fully aware of.

You are also wrong about last year. Against Temple, PJ put in seniors who hadn't had much playing time. Byron McCoy even scored a touchdown. Against Eastern Michigan, PJ put the entire 2nd team into the game. He took them out after they fumbled in their own territory, which led to an Eastern Michigan touchdown on the ensuing drive. As for the defense, I guarantee you that you can look at the participation charts of all of those games you mentioned and see far more than just the starters.

As someone who has followed Coach Johnson for the better part of 15 years, I can assure you that he has never hesitated to make a personnel change if he thought that it would make his team better.

football dad dan said...

Yeah, ... I agree that this isn't "everybody has to play x-amount of plays" pee-wee football, ... but there is a significant difference between getting rotated in for some quality "PT", ... vice going into a game for a token few plays into the 4th quarter when the game is completely out of reach. So who cares if Navy ONLY beats Eastern Michigan by two TDs ... instead of 4??? ---> Could have brought in the 2nd string in again later. So Byron McCoy gets perhaps only one carry his entire 4-year Navy career (when he scored on that 1 yard run) ... and you are proclaming "redemption" for PJ??? ---> If a kid is dedicated and talented enough to make it on the depth chart, ... the coaches oughta figure out a way to get him in the game a little more often. I would hope (and pray) that he would make the effort to have the seniors (who have sacrificed for his football program 4+ years)get in their final home game of their Navy "careers". Geez Louise!
I know that it's not just Navy (nor Paul Johnson), ... but given everything else a kid @ the Academy is required to be involved with, ... sacrificing & dedicating ones' self to not only make the Varsity squad, ... but actually be "good" enough to secure a spot on the depth chart should be "rewarded" with some "PT" to be able to show your stuff. My point is that there were numerous opportunities last season in well over a handfull of games to freely substitute players (on offense & defense), ... and it DID NOT happen. One of the consequences is that this seaon's defense is so inexperianced, ... they seem "still lost", now 5 games into the season. The depth @ skill positions on the offense was one of the "headlines" coming out of the spring, ... but Navy is not taking advantage of that "depth" ... and barring a long-term injury to the starters, ... next year we might end up in the same boat. ... No pun intended.

phelix said...

Yes, it did happen. It happened in every single one of the games you listed. It apparently just didn't happen with the particular player you were hoping for. Byron McCoy and Trey Hines were the slotbacks behind Reggie, Zerb, and Shun, and they played in every game. Kaipo played in the Stanford and UConn games when he was backing up Brian Hampton. Jarod Bryant played in the EMU, Temple, and Duke games when he was backing up Kaipo. The offensive line was a revolving door with all the guys that were rotated in. You are wrong about this.

football dad dan said...

I stand by my comments, both in principle, ... and factually as they pertain to the points I was trying to make. Pretty certain that Byron McCoy had one carry his entire Slot Back "career" @ Navy. There is a significant difference between quality playing time ... & going in for a token few plays @ some point in a lopsided game. A number of the back-up players were on special teams in some capacity, or another ... so yes, many did play in every game. You can "nickle & dime" me on a couple of specifics/semantics, ... and then resort to attacking me personally, ... but I'm not wrong, ... and the results are quite evident on this season's gridiron (on both sides of the ball).
Beat PITT!

phelix said...

Oh get over it. Disagreeing with you is not attacking you personally, so don't play the victim. And this isn't "nickle and diming." You are fundamentally wrong about everything you've said. Go back and look at the play-by-play of the games you listed since you don't want to take my word for it.

You've changed your stance from "not even during blow-out wins" to "quality playing time." Starters are starters for a reason. Nobody is entitled to playing time. And now playing time isn't enough? They deserve CARRIES?Again, this isn't little league. By the way, McCoy had 3 carries in the Temple game alone.

11 different people carried the ball against Temple. 11 different people carried the ball against UConn. 12 different people carried the ball against Eastern Michigan. 10 different people carried the ball against Duke. 10 different people carried the ball against Stanford. 9 different people carried the ball against Army. 8 different people carried the ball against Notre Dame. 9 different people carried the ball against East Carolina. We only start 4.

In order to think that PJ has "dropped the ball in this area," you would have to be a parent who isn't seeing their kid play. Any objective look leads you to a different conclusion.

Anonymous said...

football dad dan is obviously extremely partial. Getting the start at slotback is not just a function of speed but also blocking, running routes, and catching passes. Football Dad Dan does not have to answer to anyone if the team loses...and Navy has been in some tight contests where it clearly did not make sense to rotate other players in without victory being secured. Getting six wins is going to be a battle this season...and rotating players in to gain experience with the game still in doubt (as most have been this year) does not make any sense to me. I agree with Phelix. His post was accurate and not at all a personal attack...not sure where football dad dan got that...Not sure why anyone would second guess Paul Johnson...Go Navy! Beat Pitt!