Thursday, April 26, 2007

Matt Hall Highlight Reel

One of the best plays of the 2006 season came as Navy was struggling against I-AA UMass in week two. After failing to do much of anything on offense early in the game, the Midshipmen got a huge contribution by way of senior fullback Matt Hall, who had been relegated to a backup role after the emergence of Adam Ballard the previous season. Hall however took advantage of his opportunity in the second quarter, and sparked the Midshipmen with a 53-yard touchdown run in which he broke numerous tackles to tie the game at 14 and put Navy back into the game.

So why the trip down memory lane? Well, because I've recently learned Matt has produced a highlight video of his career, with the touchdown run against UMass taking center stage. While I may not be the biggest fan of the highlight film's choice of music, it's really an excellent production that showcases one of Navy's biggest playmakers over the past two seasons. Thanks for the memories Matt!

On a related note, former Navy linebacker and all around backfield havoc-maker David Mahoney has let me know that he too is working on a highlight video, and will have it up shortly on You Tube. I'll be sure to post it when it becomes available online, but needless to say I can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CFN Previews Navy's 2007 Campaign

Well, it's that time of year again., the only 365(ish) day-a-year college football website not run by the World Wide Leader, has released its 2007 preview of the Navy Midshipmen. The preview is really not that bad, as the folks at CFN seem to have finally come around to the idea that Navy is a legitimate Bowl team, and that as long as Paul Johnson is at the helm, the Mids are "here to stay" so to speak in the world of college football. There are, however, some interesting comments made by writer Pete Fiutak, who doesn't seem to lack a solid grasp on the backup personnel on this team. That's not really surprising, and I don't hold Mr. Fiutak particularly responsible for several of these misconceptions, since, let's face it, the guy is doing previews for 119 teams. Still, let me address these issues, and try to establish some clarity.

The attention given to Navy's slotbacks is admirable and warranted, but I think sometimes the "big media" loses sight of just how important the offensive line and receivers are in order to produce those huge lanes for the slotbacks to take advantage of. I'm not questioning the speed or athleticism of a Reggie Campbell or a Shun White, and I'll be the first to attest that both of those individuals, along with Zerb Singleton, have the ability to make guys miss in the open field and to outrun opposing defenses. Yet without good execution beginning with the QB-FB mesh, and moving to the outside, these gains would be impossible.

This leads to perhaps my biggest disagreement with the article, which gives the Midshipmen receivers a grade of 3.5. O.J. Washington and Tyree Barnes may not be Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, but they both do a solid job in stalk blocking and are athletic enough to make plays when Navy does decide to throw the ball. As mentioned before, Greg Sudderth also has a chance to be a real productive receiver in both the blocking and receiving facets of the game, and I liked how the article made mention of his athletic ability. The receivers do, generally, a good job in what they are suppose to do, and can only be as effective in the passing game as the quarterback allows them to be. After all, how many times did we see O.J. or Jason Tomlinson streak wide open down the field last year, only to be overthrown? To be perfectly honest, I think our wideouts are better than people think, although I do agree that depth is something of an issue. For what it's worth, I give this unit a grade of a 6.

Mr. Fiutak makes another questionable point with FB Eric Kettani, who he says isn't "near the talent Ballard is." While everyone knows I'm a huge Adam Ballard fan, Mr. Fiutak obviously misses the mark with Kettani, who coach Johnson believes will continue to give Ballard a run for his money during the fall practice sessions. Kettani is an explosive runner with great hips and tremendous vision, and plays with good pad level which allows him to bounce off tacklex at will. While Mr. Fiutak calls backup fullback the weakness of this team, I have to think its actually a major strength, and would venture to say that even the third string fullback, Kevin Campbell, has a real upside as well. Furthermore, Mr. Fiutak overestimates the role of Matt Hall, who was really being phased out as a backup for Kettnai midway trough the year due to fumbling problems. And while Ballard should have a monster year, I think Kettani has more NFL potential, if only because he fits the mold of a a pro set "running back" better than Ballard.

Other than those points, like I said I think Mr. Fituak did a very good job. He seems right to draw the success/fail mark at around eight wins, and points out (as he's done in the past) that the most important game of the season really comes in the October matchup against Air Force. Unfortunately this will most likely be the only Navy preview out for some time, until the summer guides come out sometime in June (including the all important Phil Steele magazine.)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Game Report

The sun was shining on Saturday afternoon in Annapolis, Maryland, as Navy’s Blue team bested the Gold team in the intrasquad matchup at Navy-Marine Crops Memorial Stadium in front of, well, I’d say a few hundred folks, give or take. And while the game was more of a reward for the hard work of the past month or so, for what it’s worth I took some notes, and have recorded my impressions below.

I guess I’ll begin with the quarterbacks, since that’s where these reports usually start out. Both Kaipo-Noa and Troy Goss sat out, which made for an interesting matchup between Jarod Bryant on the Blue team and Greg Zingler on the Gold team. Both however, were marked with a degree of inconsistency, although one would think Zingler was much more inconsistent than Bryant. Jarod made some good throws, including the game’s only touchdown, going 9-15 for 135 yards on the day. As noted before, Bryant has really improved in the running the option, although he did make a few mistakes in the scrimmage, including a fumbled exchange and a couple of poor pitches. With all the talk about his arm strength, I think we as fans underestimate his athletic ability, and a performance like the one he had today reminds us that when it comes to eluding tacklers, Jarod is second to none on this team. He shows good quickness at hitting the hole, and really impressed me with his ball fakes and head fakes. His reads were shaky at times, and I thought he could have gone to the fullback more when the defense walked people up from the ends. While he’ll get another chance to challenge Kaipo during fall practice, he’s a solid number two quarterback for the time being. Zingler was, well, up and down. I thought when he threw the ball well his receivers failed to make plays, and when he threw the ball poorly bad things happened (five picks, although one was clearly not his fault.) He did not get a ton of help from the Gold team offensive line, but than again he held onto the football way too long at times and was unable to avoid sacks.

The fullbacks, as you can expect, played well as usual, although Adam Ballard left the game in the second quarter with a limp. Eric Kettani continued to impress, bouncing off tackles and picking his way through the Blue defense for. Kevin Campbell also did well, rushing for. 35 yards on 1 carries.

At the risk of making a statement much too broad, Reggie Campbell really seems like he’s on another planet in terms of pure, unadulterated athletic ability. Maybe it’s the fact that he out-jumped Jeff Deliz (who happens to be five inches taller than Reggie) on a pass downfield, or maybe it’s the fact that he simply eludes tackles at will, but the guy is special. He did not see a ton of time in the game, but, as always, he was electric whenever he touched the ball. Zerb Singleton played well in limited time as well, and Jon Forbes showed some good moves.

I was very much impressed with Greg Sudderth, who looks much more comfortable as a receiver than he did at defensive back. Sudderth showed us all why he was so highly touted out of High School during the Blue-Gold game, getting separation downfield and picking up tough yards after the catch. I think he’s going to solidify his spot as the team’s third receiver, and could even push an often injured Tyree Barnes for playing time in the fall. He certainly has the big-play potential in the receiving department, and is showing himself to be a decent downfield blocker.

Speaking of wide receivers, how about O.J. Washington? He nearly makes a great catch on the first play of the day, and avoided the obvious drops that plagued many of the backup wideouts. We all know he’s excellent blocker, but the strides he’s made in the receiving facet of his game have really come alive. He is clearly the number one guy at receiver, and is probably one of the only “sure things” on the offensive depth chart.

As mentioned before, the other wideouts played somewhat inconsistently. Nick Henderson did show the ability to create separation, but also fell down on a route which led to a pick. The blocking by the receivers could also improve as well/

Both teams showed a couple of different looks in the defensive backfield, and despite having a fairly quiet day, FS Jeff Deliz has probably earned the starting job with a solid overall spring. 5-7 Darius Terry showed some ability at corner with an interception, as did rising senior Jordan Reagan. I’m really high on Reagan, who is also one of the fastest players on the team. He’s a smart player with good athleticism who also shows the ability to come off the edge on blitzes. He recorded one interception in the game, and has put himself in a position to further challenge for playing time this fall.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching the game was the battle that was going on between NT Nate Frazier and C Antron Harper. And when I say battle, I’m not exaggerating. These guys have gone after it all spring, with the 5-11 Harper really taking it to the highly touted 6-3 Frazier. Frazier made some good plays in the backfield as the game progressed, but you could really see him having problems with Harper early, even when the converted center was isolated on him. This is great news for both players, who will instrumental on their respected parts of the line next year.

The play between the “O” and “D” lines was, in my estimation anyway, very back and forth. I guess that’s what you can expect in a game like this, which Johnson has continually said was “just for fun.” Still, the offensive lines on both teams committed several penalties, including some silly false starts that must be corrected.

At linebacker, Clint Sovie continued to distinguish himself, as did Jon Alvarado, who shows a real ability to read plays and come off of blocks. He finished the day with 13 tackles and two sacks. Matt Humiston was also impressive, and has the athletic ability necessary to anchor the outside linebacker position. Jesse Iwuji, Scott Reider, and Arti Pauls all made some eye-opening hits, as did Ross Pospisil, who had eight tackles and two sacks.

Overall, it was a good day to get out and watch a little football, and considering the team avoided any major injuries, a good day in the development of this particular team.

I’ll be back later to share more thoughts on both the Spring Game and Spring Practices in general. Until then you can read the official release of the game from or head over for continued coverage at

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Navy Spring Practice Update: 4/16

Paul Johnson Quote of the Week:
"My job is to try and win games. I will let the marketing department sell the tickets. "

Disturbing Fan House Post of the Week:
Navy's Bowl Invite Another Example of Broken Bowl System

I admire Bill as a blogger and have worked with him in the past before, but I'm really not sure where he's going with this. First off, I can't figure out what he's actually trying to say. It sounds like he's saying Navy's recent agreement with the P-Bowl is just another example of how money has come to dominate college football, and how teams that travel well get priority in Bowl games. Ok, fair enough, what else is new? The thing is he also seems to say Navy doesn't deserve to play in a Bowl game, which is nonsense. Sure, the Mids may take away a "spot" from a lesser BCS conference team, but so do many other non-BCS teams. How many 6-6, Bowl eligible teams missed out on a Bowl last year? One, two? All I can think of is Wyoming, and they can complain to the folks at the New Mexico Bowl, since 6-6 UNM had no business in a Bowl game after getting defeated soundly by Portland St. Furthermore, Bill attempts to make the connection between Navy playing in the P-Bowl and the inability of the NCAA to ever form a playoff. I don't even know how to respond to this, because the subjects seem completely apart.

The Skinny:

Navy held its first spring scrimmage on April 8th, although I was unfortunately not present. To risk maybe making a few mistakes or omissions based on my absence, I'll nevertheless try my best to run through some of the highlights. The actual report can be found at

As you can expect, the offense (in particular the first string) continues to have an advantage over the defense, which makes sense when you consider the disparity in experience that exists between the units. The offense scored seven times out of seventeen possessions in total, including two touchdowns by the first team offense in six attempts. Both incumbent Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and challenger Jarod Bryant led the first team offense to a score, while third string quarterback and former North Carolina "Mr. Football" Troy Goss was unable to direct a scoring drive on two attempts. As the official transcript reports, the second team offense scored three out of five times on the second team defense, while the third team "O," led by Severna Park native Greg Zingler, scored on two of its three possessions against the third team defense.

The second scrimmage of the year, held yesterday morning, was much more balanced, and saw a strong performance by the much-maligned defense. The first team offense scored only twice in eleven tries, as the first team defense forced two turnovers, including two interceptions by rising junior Clint Sovie. Sovie is a player I and many other fans are very high on, as he combines great athletic ability with the hard nosed playing style we've come to expect from Naval Academy linebackers. Nate Frazier is also showing some ability, and while he's struggled against Antron Harper during the scrimmages, he's proven that when he can get his 6-3, 285-lb frame in the backfield he can cause some serious havoc. Jeff Deliz has continued to post solid performances in the secondary, and probably will go into the fall as the starting free safety. Linebacker Jon Alvarado has also played well, and has shown a great nose for the ball thus far.
While the defense played better in Saturday's performance, the offense struggled with a host of turnovers. Quarterback Kaipo-Noa still has a solid hold on the starting job, but shows he still has a lot of room for improvement after throwing two horrible interceptions to Clint Sovie. Jarod Bryant has gotten better on making his option reads and also thrown some good balls, but still displays the inconstancy to make smart plays all the time. While the interception wasn't necessarily his fault, he needs to do a better job of holding onto the ball, something he struggled with last year and continues to struggle with. I think by this point Troy Goss has probably taken himself out of the race for the starting job, and may very well end up being moved back to wideout to try to get him more time on the field. Severna Park native and fourth string quarterback Greg Zingler has looked impressive in his handling of the third team defense, and has many Navy fans intrigued at his ability to lead this team a couple of years down the road.

As expected, Navy's group of slotbacks and fullbacks looks very good early, even though a number of the slotbacks have been sitting out due to injury. Eric Kettani continues to impress with his explosive, aggressive style of running, while a not quite fully healthy Adam Ballard has still shown off his rumbling, hard-nosed style. Rising sophomore Kevin Campbell has looked good as well. As far as the slotbacks are concerned, both Bobby Doyle and Jon Forbes has looked good during their reps, although Reggie Campbell, Shun White, and Zerb Singleton are all but "penciled in" as the starters.
You can read the official transcript of the second scrimmage right here, and don't forget to stop by Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium next Saturday for the annual Blue and Gold game.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter and Other Stuff

First off, Happy Easter. As you know by now, the Navy Midshipmen conducted their first spring scrimmage this morning. Unfortunately I am in Denver at the moment, so i was unable to get the inside scoop on what went down during a surprisingly cold morning. I will be away until Thursday, so no weekly report until then. Here are some links of interest that popped up in the 15 minutes or so i was online today...

Mids are Focused up Front (Annapolis Capital)
Scrimmage Report ( Report

I'll be back later this week to give some commentary, which i realize this site has been sorely lacking in recent weeks. Please remember the Reason for the season and have a blessed Easter.