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.