Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Moving on...As you can see from the right side bar of the blog, the "How Many Games will Navy win this year?" poll is closed. Half of respondents felt the Mids would win 9 or 10 games this coming season (including a Bowl) indicating a very optimistic outlook that I more or less share. Only one voter felt Navy would win 6 games this coming year, and none felt the Mids would win less than six . Interestingly enough, seven individuals felt Navy would win more than 10 games in 2007, which to be honest seems a bit lofty at this point. Still, the general consensus by the fans, players, and the administration echoes this year's marketing slogan "expect to win," which is certainly a far cry from just five short years ago. The next two polls will feature questions on surprise performers for the 2007 season.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Phelix gives us his five myths of Paul Johnson's offense, taking aim at the cliches and "yes, but" phrases the so called "experts" often use when describing the triple option. I especially like the point he makes about recruiting and "balance."
Our friend Pat over at The Blue Gray Sky gives us his annual position preview for Notre Dame's 2007 opponents, starting with the quarterback position. His analysis of Kaipo-Noa and Jarod Bryant is right on, although he does rate the Navy quarterbacks behind Shaun Carney and the Air Force unit.
Also, I'd like to briefly comment on the passing of Bill Walsh. It seems like just yesterday he was doing color commentary for the Navy-Stanford game, and although I knew he was sick, I was not aware that things had deteriorated so quickly. It's been said before, but it's worth saying again. He was a class act guy who basically revolutionized the game, and his legacy will be continued by disciples of his coaching philosophy far into the future. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
That's all for now.
Navy, Not Resting On Laurels, Looks To Continue Its March (Baltimore Sun)
As Training Camp Begins, Navy Hopes It All Works Out (Washington Post))
Notable Paul Johnson Quotes:
“A lot of those guys over there haven't played yet, but having been here and going into our sixth season, we've got guys who can run better that are a little bigger, a little faster. We've got personnel on defense — they just don't have a lot of experience.”
“I told the team last night we've got potential — the big 'P' word. We've got some of that. Now can they translate that into being a good football team? We'll see.”
"We had the best summer we've had since I've been here."
Monday, July 30, 2007
As usual it was great to get out and talk to all the players. With everything going on in sports right now and all the negative publicity in the NFL and major college football, it's such a breath of fresh air to interact with the kind of student athletes you find at the Naval Academy. As you probably guessed from the above photo, it was especially good to get a chance to talk with Jarod Bryant, who remains as upbeat as ever on Navy's chances next season. I also really enjoyed talking with Joey Bullen, who said he's looking forward to competing with Matt Harmon for the starting place kicking job this fall. I made sure to get a few words in with Adam Ballard, Eric Kettani, Troy Goss, and Zerb Singleton, who all said they were ready to get going for the season and even inquired about the blog. Greg Thrasher, who sat out the 2006 season, also said he's back and ready to go for fall camp. Jeff Deliz was very humble about being named team captain, and more or less made my day when he said he enjoyed reading the blog. The slotbacks all seemed to be in good spirits, including Greg Shinego, who is my choice as a surprise performer in 2007. And then there was O.J. Washington, who may have been a little annoyed at my prodding him about last month's wide receiver preview, but was very excited about his 91 speed rating in NCAA '08. I also ran into David Ausiello from GoMids.com, who writes a great column called "Off The Yard" over there.
Oh yea, and then there was this amazing piece of Naval hardware:
Let me just say that was one helluva moon bounce.
I attempted a video broadcast from the event, although it made absolutely no sense so I decided to give up on it thirty seconds into taping. I guess I should stick to writing.
All in all, a good way to open up fall camp and kickoff the final countdown to the 2007 season. As usual, Navy's players conducted themselves with a degree of class and enthusiasm that is unmatched anywhere else in college football.
Crazy, I know. Shortly after returning to my home following the Navy football fan fest, I received an email from Debbie Corrigan, a member of Phil's staff. She explained that she had been on vacation during the time my email was sent, and that for some technical error that I'm not even gonna try to understand, it was never delivered.
I immediately emailed Debbie to let her know that the post on Friday was more of a good-hearted joke on a slow day than anything else, and that I remain a devoted customer of Phil Steele magazine. She said to expect a answer to my question this Thursday at PhilSteele.com. If this isn't proof enough that Phil and his staff take care of their readers and fans, I don't know what is.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Well, yes, sorta. But not in the overtly man-crushing style I have been known for in the past. Yes, it may be true that I carry a picture of the man on the side of this weblog proudly proclaiming it to be "Phil Steele Approved" (completely made up by the way,) and it's no coincidence that for several months a google search of "Phil Steele" would often lead visitors to the single most viewed post on this blog. In short, I’ve lauded his work, I’ve proclaimed the infallibility of his predictions, and I’ve given him a new a growing fan base which to sell his abbreviations of VHT and YPP with. And this is how he repays me?
Where does this new found angst come from you ask? Well, it all started June 30th, as the email below shows. Being a daily visitor to PhilSteele.com and a frequent reader of his Question and Answer segment, I decided to write the man, the myth, and the legend an email regarding the Navy Midshipmen. Mind you, this wasn't a "how many gamz will navy win next season" kind of question, but an intuitive and well articulated double pronged question that encompassed all three service academy football teams. To be completely objective in my own analysis, it was the perfect question.
PhilSteele.com does clarify that Mr. Steele won't post all the questions and answers on the website, and being as busy as he his (the dude takes like two vacation days a year) I, at the time, didn't expect much. However, I received an email later that day saying the following:
So that was that. Phil will respond within 48 hours. Not "Phil might respond within 48 hours" or "Phil said he hates your question so forget about it," but a simple and direct "Phil will respond within 48 hours." As you may expect, I was more than a little excited at the prospect of receiving that email, to the point where I was counting down the hours two days later.
The email has yet to come.
Today is July 26th. ETA on the Phil Steele email was July 2nd. Considering it was the week of a holiday, I shrugged it off and and gave him another week. Nothing. I checked the website, including the newly updated questions and answers from other college football fans around the web. Nothing. I waited another week and checked it again. Nothing. Heck, I even checked the my regular mail to see if maybe he sent it via the Post Office. Nothing. And now, 24 days after the answer to the greatest college football question on the planet was due to arrive, the latest question and answer segment reveals a familiar tune. Nothing.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Navy Will Beat a Bowl-Bound Team: This may not be as big of a deal as it sounds. After all, the Midshipmen bested the East Carolina Pirates (7-6, PapaJohns.com Bowl last year) in a 28-23 game to begin the year last year. One of the most frequent criticisms by "big media" sources (not to mention fans of the Air Force Academy) of Navy's recent run of success has been that Coach Johnson and his squad haven't beaten quality teams. We can argue this point until the cows come home, but the 2007 season will provide several challenges by teams which have shown the ability to go to Bowl games in the recent past, as well as teams which figure to be competitive in 2007. Rutgers, Ball State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Northern Illinois all have good chances to go bowling by season's end if you ask me, and if Navy is to be successfully this year they're going to have to take at least one of these games. Keep in mind the Midshipmen have not played Ball State, NIU, or Pitt under Coach Johnson, giving the natural order of the triple option a HUGE advantage over the opponent's defense. The game against Pittsburgh screams upset!
SB Reggie Campbell: "Sub 4.44"
SB Shun White: 4.46
FB Eric Kettani: 4.53
CB Ram Vela: 4.54
OLB Jordan Eddington: 4.69
If you want to discuss these, drop a line below. Otherwise adjust the speed rating on NCAA 08 accordingly.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The face of Coach Johnson in this picture can only be described as a "dastardly snicker." I mean, that's the kind of face a six year old kid makes when he's just taken a cookie out of the cookie jar without mommy's permission. The fact that it's coming against Fisher DeBerry at last year's game only contributes to the awesomeness which is Paul Johnson.
Phelix over at The Bird Dog has a good run-down of the Mountain West conference media day in respect to the Air Force Academy. As you can expect, it's more mystery and intrigue surrounding an offensive gameplan that may or may not work, an offense Phelix calls "great plan for the Xbox." Speaking of the old 'BOX, anyone with NCAA 08 check out the Air Force playbook yet? If you have, drop me a line and let us know how it looks.
More tomorrow. That is all.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Today's Countdown features Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney, who despite putting up numbers that would seem to indicate Service Academy immortality, has never won against the Midshipmen despite being a three year starter. He'll have one last crack at it during the last weekend of September, but as it stands right now, his time is running out.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
As for the the previous poll on the "signature" win, 24% of respondents said that Paul Johnson has yet to win a "signature game" during his time at the Naval Academy. 19% of respondents said that Navy's win over 25th ranked Air Force in 2003 would qualify as Johnson's signature win at the Academy.
I'll have more content up during the week, including a continuation of the positional previews we've been running through.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Nick Henderson: Good looking sophomore who has ideal height (6'4). Showed some ability in the spring, and could be in line to start in 2008.
Troy Goss: Goss is still listed as a QB, but I'm projected him to move back to WR in fall camp and settle into the three deep. Was a capable blocker in mop-up duty last season.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Navy preview is available hyah, while you can also access the Notre Dame and Army previews at ESPN's college football page. This is a definite must see for fans, as the people at Blue Ribbon always produce one of, if not the best, preseason previews out there. (But Adam, wait, I thought you were an unabashed Phil Steele fanatic? Well I am, but Blue Ribbon gives you more of a "look and feel" of the team, as opposed to Phil's reliance on numbers and just a general bombardment of information. I like to think of the two previews as compliments.)
There are a couple interesting points of note from the preview, and fans of Coach Johnson (which means all of us) will enjoy the coy reference to his interesting sense of humor at the beginning. There is also an interesting mention of sophomore Nate Frazier being a potential NFL prospect down the road, a point which seems a little premature seeing that Frazier has yet to register in any statistical category except "plays." There is also a nice quote by Clint Sovie in the linebacker section talking about how Sovie is transitioning from being the "new guy" in the unit to the experienced and insightful veteran. Very good stuff.
Blue Ribbon doesn't really go out of their way in the prediction department, but like every preseason preview out there seems content to pencil in the Midshipmen with a winning season and an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl. Sounds good to me.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Note: I usually try to keep this blog classy and PG rated, but obviously a few of these group exhibit, uh, some of the stronger passions of college football fans. Keep in mind all these groups are actual facebook groups (you can;'t make stuff up as good as this), and I'm not endorsing any of them. So basically, I don't want to get the CFR treatment and have a million screaming 'Bama fans telling me how much of an idiot I am.
Akron: Akron will be national champs: Cause Gary "Pride of Colerain" II
Alabama: Alabama Football is the main reason why I drink...
Arizona State: I (Strongly dislike) Rudy Carpenter
Arkansas: Houston Nutt wont let me play football so im telling my momma
Army: Army Football Owns You
Auburn: The Tommy Tuberville Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good
Baylor: Baylor uses facebook to recruit people to attend home football games.
Boise State: Chris Myers ruined Ian Johnson's marriage proposal
BYU: 33-31 + 85-62= THRASHING UTAH = BYU MWC CHAMPS!
Cal: If I were an oak tree I'd die for Cal Football.
Central Michigan: If this group hits 1,500, I will streak at the WMU vs. CMU football game!
Clemson: Boycott SportsCenter for Their Incredulous Reporting of Clemson Football
Colorado: Go Play Intramurals Brutha.....
UConn: Connecticut, it's almost a rectangle (not actually about football)
Duke: Duke Football (I'm feeling a win this year!)
East Carolina: Dowdy-Ficklen Fanatics
Eastern Michigan: I'm glad i'm NOT a Michigan State football fan
Florida: Guns Don't Kill People, Tim Tebow Does
Florida International: Dis is 4 all the Hurricane fans that think FIU started and loss the fight
Florida State: FSU dropped Jeff Bowden like the IAU dropped Pluto
Fresno State: Reggie Bush is an alien disguised as an inexplicably good football player
Navy: Making Tackles: Greg Sudderth can't do it (started by teammate and friend Greg Thrasher, who seems to spend way too much time on the Internet)
Notre Dame: I Would Let Tom Zbikowski Punch Me in the Face
Oklahoma: I want Rhett Bomar's old job at Big Red Sports/Imports
Penn State: I will give JoePa any body part so he can walk the sidelines
Pitt: Fans of Dave Wannstedts mustache ( the Wannstache)
Purdue: Destination Curtis Painter: 5000 Yards!!!!
Rutgers: Rutgers Football is the only thing going for NJ
South Carolina: Steve Spurrier was a dick...now he's a Cock!
South Florida: Pat White? Brian Brohm? F that, Matt Grothe!
Texas: Colt McCoy drinks a 1/2 gallon of milk a day AND SAVED A MAN'S LIFE.
Texas A&M: Mark Dodge: The Unsung Hero
Texas Tech: I could have gone to Texas Tech...but I already have a high school diploma.
Tenneesse: Down with the big orange pumpkin
USC: Its not USC I hate.. its more Pete Carroll
Vanderbilt: Fumbles, Bumbles, Stumbles: THIS Is Vanderbilt Football!
Virginia Tech: "Enter Sandman" is the BEST college football entrance.
Wake Forest: UNC fans have nothing better to do than make hate-wake facebook groups
Washington: The Opponent's Special Teams Are Actually "Special", The Huskies Still Lost
West Virginia: Pat White TV Growl = best ESPN moment ever...
Wisconsin: WISCONSIN FOOTBALL--- WIN OR LOSE, WE STILL BOOZE
Wyoming: Karsten Sween For Heisman 2007, 2008, 2009
Saturday, July 07, 2007
"Reggie Campbell is a great football player. He can play any place in the country, there's no question. You can ask 117 teams that would love to have Campbell on their team."
I know part of that is just being respectful of the opponent, but Coach Kragthorpe's point is simple, and that is that Reggie Campbell is just a damn good football player in every aspect of the game. Not only is he a fantastic rusher and pass receiver, but the guy has been solid on kickoff (and the occasional punt) returns and even does an amazing job covering punts as a gunner. He is also an unheralded blocker who seems to come out of nowhere to cut guys down on the open field. Heck, the only think I think I haven't seen Reggie do is throw a pass, and you never know what Coach Johnson has up his sleeve. I don't know if I've ever enjoyed watching a football player on the collegiate level any more than Reggie, and 2007 should be his biggest year yet.
Photo of Reggie Campbell from Defenselink.mil. Photo of Zerbin Singleton courtesy of Navysports.com. Photos of Shun White, Bobby Doyle, and Greg Shinego from my collection.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Today we continue our preview of the 2007 Navy football team, taking a look at one of the positions that makes Navy's offense unique among Division I college teams. While the fullback position has been reduced to a lead blocking role if not altogether abandoned for an extra wide receiver, in Paul Johnson's triple option the fullback still thrives as the main ball carrier. Here's the rundown on this year's three-deep:
Adam Ballard: The heir apparent to Kyle Eckel, when Ballard has been healthy he's been an unstoppable force up the middle for Navy over the last two seasons. After rushing for 668 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2005, Ballard figured to be a sure 1000 yard rusher last season and probably would have been had he not missed the majority of several games with various injuries. He nevertheless managed to rush for 792 yards and three touchdown on 5.1 yards a carry. At 6'1, 223 he has the size and strength to break arm tackles and flat out bulldoze the occasional defensive back, while he sports good speed and vision which have paved the way for several long runs in the past. More than anything else, he's a reliable back who takes care of the football and advances the ball, rarely losing yardage and always keeping opposing defenses honest. I talked to him three weeks ago and he says that he's recovered and ready to go from a broken right fibula he suffered against Army, so expect him to be 100% going into the opener. An interesting statistic to note is that Navy has never lost a game when Ballard has rumbled for over 100 yards. His unique combination of strength and athleticism make him an ideal fullback in Paul Johnson's offense I look for him to have a big year in 2007 and finally eclipse the 1000 yard rushing mark in a single season.
Eric Kettani: Navy fans have been ecstatic about the ascent of junior from Kirkland, Ohio, and with good reason. While he only ran 229 yards and a touchdown last season, it's been the nature of his yards which have really attracted attention. He's one of the most physically gifted Navy players on the roster, running a sub 4.6/40 while owning a bench press max close to 400 power. But even with these workout warrior type numbers, it's his ability to see the field and find the hole that really makes him a good runner. Eric also possesses good hips and great balance, traits which make him all the more difficult to tackle. He had an awesome spring and while he doesn't have the experience or numbers of Ballard, his athleticism may force the coaching staff to utilize him on a more frequent basis in 207.
Kevin Campbell: Talented player who looks to continue the recent tradition of Navy fullbacks. He won't see much, if any time behind the likes of Ballard and Kettani this season, but could be a key figure going into 2008.
Overall: This looks like the best group of fullbacks under Coach Johnson, and certainly one of the better groups in the modern era at Navy. Ballard is a flat out beast who has the experience, talent, and battering ram mindset you want in a starting fullback, while Eric Kettani may be the closest thing to a pro style tailback on the roster. A young but promising group of sophomores round out this bunch, making it not only very good, but very deep.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Toughest game: at Rutgers, Sept. 7
Also, I'm adding a new blog to the blogroll. I've just come across the Mountain West Conference Podcast/Blog, which is an awesome site that features one of my favorite college football conferences. Be sure to check out their Air Force review podcast.
I'll have a Fullback preview up tomorrow in continuation of our Ultimate Navy Preview.
That is all.