Friday, August 31, 2007

Second Half Live Blog

Welcome back to our coverage of Navy-Temple. We'll get rolling just as soon as the action picks up.

9:26- Navy will get the ball first half, that is if Golden doesn't try for the onsides (which he might.)

9:28- Promising drive killed by a Ballard fumble (fighting for extra yards.) All I can say is that our O owns these guys, but we've got to hold onto the ball.

9:30- [comment redacted]

9:32- You want to know the two biggest difference between last year's defense and this year's? A) Coming off of blocks (We don't in 2007.) B) Stripping the football (we don't in 2007). 24-13 Mids.

9:39- Our home slice Eric Kettani gets a carry. I'm sure he enjoys me calling him that.

9:40- Why am I watching mascots fight and not temple's defense getting destroyed? Coverage please ESPNU!

9:41- They are killing us when we run the freeze option. It's just setting up slow.

9:45 Tyree Barnes just made a sick catch that was called back for interference. Dumb call, but we owe them a few I guess.

9:47- The Refs are officially screwing us this quarter.

9:49- All due apologies to our older fans, but if I see another commercial for the "help I've fallen and I can't get up button" I'm gonna scream.

9:53- We're getting killed by the run.

9:55- Oh, so that's why you only rush two. Ketric Buffin with an interception! HOOZAH!

10:01- Id' like to take this time to officially redact my comment about hating football. I was just kidding. I told you this would be an awkward and erratic live blog.

10:08- The option is starting to ware Temple down. The cramp monster is out on the field.

10:10- There have been about two plays run within the last 15 minutes. I've been reduced to throwing a racket ball against my wall.

10:13- Wow, we've just moved back twenty yards in like three seconds.

10:15- Why on God's good earth would you review a play when their is a holding penalty?

10:17- Is Golden trying to ice Harmon? Phelix was right, this guy is weird.

10:23- Wyatt Middleton just straight up trucked a dude. That's the second time tonight Temple has tried to throw try some trickeration on a kickoff.

10:25- Do we have other linebackers besides Irv in this game. All the damn screen passes are driving me crazy.

10:27- Give Golden and DiMichele credit. One's calling a good game and the other is executing it.
10:29- Incidental face masks should die.

10:32- I redact my comment about redacting my comment that I hate football.

10:34- I :heart: special teams.

10:38- Time for a New Mexico.

10:44- This is it. 4th and inches...

10:45- I'm sending Matt Harmon a steak for Christmas.

10: 50- Well, we win, and I have to drive an hour back from D.C. tonight, so I'll have a a review tomorrow.

Oh yea, 100!

First Half Live Blog

7:30- FUHBALL!!!

7:32- Beth Mowins and Dave Diez-Infante are calling the game. I've seriously never heard of either, although Infante seems to know what he's talking about.

7:35- Looks like a decent sized crowd, although a lot of empty seats in the upper reserve sections. Good to see Staubach and Bellino do the coin toss.

7:40-Navy "D" holds for a three and out, but a booming punt and a Buffin clip are going to start us back in our own end.

7:42- I called the first play, but the pass was batted down at the line.

7:44- On a crucial third and ten Kaipo his Shun White for a big gain down the field. Temple's secondary was in another state.

7:51- TOUCHDOWN NAVY! Ballard and the offense make it look easy.

7:51- Let's see how Temple responds. They had a three and out to start the game and just got walked all over on defense. If the offense can't get anything going here it could be a long night for Golden's ball club.

8:01- That was an interesting series. Temple has some talented players on offense and their O-line seems to be improved from last season, but they keep self-destructing with penalties. Golden was likely going to go for it on 4th and inches until a false start forced him to punt.

8:05- Kaipo is freaking awesome. After hitting reggie for a nice twenty yard completion, he takes a 44 yard run to the house. Greg Sudderth has an good block, and Kaipo shows a little high stepping at the end. Coach Johnson gave him a grin and then hit him on the head.

8:15- Temple is making some offensive progress. As I said before they have the ability to move the football, which coupled with Golden's win-or-die personality give Navy some problems. Temple is doing a good job taking what Navy gives them, which is what you have to do against a Coach Buddy Green defense.

8:25- Temple does get three points off of the aforementioned drive. DiMichele is really impressing me, but had to sit out two plays (one of them was a sack) because of an injury. Navy needs to come out firing here to kill any momentum.

8:33- Johnson goes for it on 4th and 2 and Adam Ballard just gets the first down. Holy Cow that was close. Not sure on the spot, we caught a break there.

8:35- Damn. Turnover. Missed block. Big hit. damn.

8:37- The announcers our huge Temple homers. And our defense is slow. 14-10.

8:42- Alright, no screwing around. Coach Johnson is going to let Shun and Reggie sonic the hedgehog it up. Adam needs to get north-south.

8:47- Adam Ballard is so cool. Touchdown Mids. 21-10. Now let's play some defense, dammit.

8:50- There should honestly be a five-yard late hit variety. Unless your trying to kill someone, these are the dumbest penalties.

8:54- Big Nate is getting some great penetration but has been held a couple of times. I like.

8:53- Adam DiMichele should play for Navy. Kid has some serious athletic ability.

8:58- Shun White explodes peoples' helmets.

9:05- Halftime, baby, halftime. Mids up 24-10.

Some halftime thoughts:

Temple looks better than last year, as expected. Golden's guys (in particular DiMichele) showed a lot of resilience to bounce back after going down 14-0. Temple's offensive line looks head and shoulders above where it was last year, but Navy's offense looks well advanced for the first game and should be able to continue after the half. Aside from the missed blocks that lead to the Zerbin Singleton fumble, the offense has executed for the most part. DiMichele is an ATHLETE, the guy has already eluded what looked like two or three sure sacks and has made some plays in the open field. Navy's defenders need to stay disciplined and take better angles. Temple has had some bad luck this game but I don't think it would make up for the fourteen points Navy leads by. Kaipo is getting some great pass protection and is throwing the ball well for the most part. The new kickoff rule has had absolutely no effect, although hats off to Navy's special teams, which have done a fine job.


This is the official game-day open thread/live blogging thread. I'm not planning on making this an over-the-top live blog that's updated every twenty seconds, but I still like the idea of getting thoughts in during commercials and other breaks. If nothing else, the transcripts are usually pretty funny to read afterwards. So, if you have any thoughts, comments, or concerns, this is the place to leave them. I'll check in later this afternoon and leave some notes.

12:35- In case anyone is interested in my week one picks, you can head over to Saturday Sounds Offs and check out the Big Board. So far I'm 2-0, correctly picking Tulsa and Oregon State last night. Tonight I'm projecting Ty and his Huskies to beat Syracuse.

12:46- I still don't have definite plans for where I' watching this game tonight, but I'll figure something out. Right now I have to get my lovely mug shot for ROTC, so I won't be back until 3:30ish.

1:50- Only member of the platoon with a navy shirt on in his picture. Yes, I planned it that way. I just decided not to head up to the game (can't get out early enough), so I'll be watching it on ESPN U.

3:47- We're now inside four hours until game time. If you anxiously waiting without anything to do until kickoff, be sure to check out The fine folks over there have put together a pick 'em pitting Bruce Feldmen against a collection of bloggers and average Joe's. You can check out my picks hyah.

6:25- Well, we're approaching an hour left to go. If your heading up to Philly you should of left three hours ago. If not, well, kick back and relax and enjoy the action.

7:00- We're a half hour away and it's time for the prediction of Navy's first offensive play. For those of you who watched the UConn game last year, let's just say that if the execution is there, expect a similar result. Temple, on the other hand, will run a reverse on the first kickoff they receive. No really, they will.

7:15- Who the hell is Beth Mullins?

The people at ESPN can't say Kaipo's name. How sad is that? I mean it's not like he's some kid they pulled off the jv, he did start six games last season...

7:26- The people at ESPNU obviously have no perspective outside of the SEC.

7:30- We're about to get started, moving over the the 1st Half Thread...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

CFN Predicts Navy Victory has finally said goodbye to the pointless offseason rankings and got some serious and meaningful contact cranked up, including their weekly "Fearless predictions" for all FBS teams.

CFN predicts a 34-17 Navy victory in tomorrow night's opener, a prediction which corresponds to what many navy fans are projecting.

Take a wild guess what Navy will do? With a nice mix of inside and outside runs, the Midshipmen will hold on to the ball for close to 40 minutes and will never let Temple get any sort of rhythm. Temple won't be embarrassed and will show potential in the loss.

I'll keep you updated on any other previews and projections I see throughout the day. If you've seen any I've yet to cover, feel free to drop us a line.

EDIT: blogger Greg Amsinger picks the Midshipmen to handily defeat Temple 42-13. He also likes Army over Akron by a touchdown.

My Question on College Football Live

Go there now.

EDIT: Ok, so here's the story. I've been a bum all day and have been watching this 25 hour pregame show ESPN has been running. Just before 1600 hours I was dozing off while reading an email from my MS professor when all of a sudden I hear Rece Davis say something along the lines of "is this the year Navy beats Notre Dame." Lou Holtz proceeded to say something dumb that I've since forgotten, but I'm pretty sure this was in reference to a question I sent in earlier today to the show. Not that it matters what Lou Holtz thinks, I just thought it was cool.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Preview: Navy at Temple

Here it is. The final preview before tomorrow night's game. Be sure to tune into Pitch Right tomorrow night for what figures to be a somewhat awkward and clumsy live blogging session. Until then, enjoy the below, and be sure to get your vote in on our "Who Wins?" poll on the sidebar.

Navy Offense Vs. Temple Defense

Analysis: Navy is going to move the ball, that's a given. The Midshipmen return almost all their skill players from last season and a revamped line which has earned some high praise this offseason. We've been hearing a lot about Temple's "new and improved" defense over the past couple of weeks but it remains to be seen what, if any, improvements were made over the offseason. I tend to think that Temple's defensive line will have some success up the middle, but I really question the ability of Temple's linebackers and defensive backs to cover their assignments against Navy's speedy offense. Despite the fact that Navy's offense may need some time to to shake off the rust coupled with the trend that defense usually dominates openers, I look for the a veteran and athletic Navy offense to overcome whatever improvements Temple has made defensively.

Edge: Navy

Temple Offense vs. Navy Defense

Analysis: Temple should be able to move the ball, and their offense should manage to score more points than the six they managed last season, but I just don't see DiMichele and com pony having the same advantages over the defense that Navy's offense has. We've all made our predictions about Navy's defense, and I think the most reasonable thing to expect is that they will bend early but should do what's necessary for the team to win. I don't buy the idea that Temple's offensive line will be that much better than last year's version, and I actually expect Navy to get to the quarterback two or three times in the course of the game. At this point I'd be more surprised to see the defense perform surprisingly horrible than surprisingly well. The biggest question is going to be can Adam DiMichele show up and see the field, and if he can will he be able to get the ball to his talented group of wide receivers? Because Buddy Green will be on the watch against the big play, Temple is going to have to earn their points, and I think that's much easier said than done.

Edge: Draw


Analysis: Temple's home field advantage isn't that substantial even if 60,00+ do show up (in and of itself a big if.) Temple has the odd and perhaps fortunate luck of playing Navy twice in a row, a factor which should give the team extra determination to come into the game firing. Both teams are more or less healthy, with Navy only missing third string fullback and future badass Kevin Campbell. One thing that is worth noting is while Navy may not be as experienced as Temple on the defensive side of the ball, Navy's roster and two-deep is much more upperclassman-heavy than Temple's.

Edge: Draw


Analysis: This should be a no-brainer, and it is. Al Golden may be a charismatic guy who can rebuild this Temple team into a winner, but on the field Paul Johnson is the master. If Navy struggles early, look for his adjustments to help the Midshipmen pull away after halftime.

Edge: Navy

The Final Verdict

I think most Navy fans are looking at this game with cautious optimism, and considering how much better Temple may be, that may be a good way to look at it. It's probably unrealistic to expect Navy to come out with guns blazing and everything clicking, but it's also unrealistic to expect Temple to come out that way too. I think we're going to see a situation where Navy scores on their first series, but ends up having some growing pains in the first half. I've been an optimist on our defense all offseason and I'm not about to change that opinion, and considering just how poorly Temple's offense played at the end of last season I just can't conceive that big of an improvement. After some sloppy play early the Mids buckle down and dominate the second half. Navy wins, 34-21.

Wednesday Media Coverage

Local Articles

Big Things From A Small Package (Christian Swezey, Washington Post): A closer look at Navy inside linebacker Clint Sovie.

Exclusive with Coach Paul Johnson (Ron Snyder, Baltimore Examiner):

Harper At Center Of Navy Offense (Ron Snyder, Baltimore Examiner)

Bill Wagner's Blog: Already has two very good posts up, this is fast becoming a daily must-read.

Broadneck Grad Earns Starting Role For Mids (Bill Wagner, Annapolis Capital): Good article on Big Ben Gabbard and his new on-the-field attitude.

Cliff Notes...Bill Wagner has a blog! Proceed there immediately...Here's a little secret for those of you in the D.C. area without ESPNU. As far as I can tell, most D.C. universities carry all five ESPN stations including ESPN U, so, if you're out of options for viewing this game, I'd recommend paying a visit to your local dining hall...Navy picks up a single vote in the blogpoll, coming in at #23 of the ballot of Straight Bangin'. We're willing to overlook his highly questionable political and musical beliefs for the rest for the day based upon this vote...The Washington Post ranks the Midshipmen as the fifth best non-bcs team in the country coming into the season...Pat over at the Blue-Gray Sky has his linebacker review up. Navy comes in last, but don't take it too hard. That's all for now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Final Preseason BlogPoll

1Southern Cal--
2West Virginia 1
3LSU 3
4Wisconsin 1
5Michigan 1
6Texas 4
8Penn State 3
9Louisville 1
10Texas A&M 1
11Virginia Tech 1
12UCLA 1
13Oklahoma 1
14Hawaii 1
15California 1
16TCU 1
17Nebraska 4
18Missouri 1
19Oregon 5
20Arkansas 2
21Wake Forest 3
22Ohio State 4
23Boise State 3
24South Florida 1
25Rutgers 1

Dropped Out: Iowa (#25).
This is pretty self-explanatory. I have no idea why I dropped Iowa out, I just did. Let me know if you have any major issues with these positions.

Tuesday's Temple Thoughts

Say What?!?

"I think they're going to come out and punch us in the mouth."

Here's the deal. I know Temple is not to be taken likely. I'm not an idiot. I know that Al Golden has done a relatively good job in recruiting (they ain't Rutgers yet, and their not even at Duke-status), and I know he's infused a new confidence and energy into the program. Yet, by the same token, I also know that Coach Johnson is an expert at getting his teams prepared to play and at filling his team's with the fear of God. This isn't the first time he or one of his player's have talked up an opponent, and it won't be the last.

But just how good is Temple, and is it all talk on Navy's part, or is there legitimate concern? This is the central question, but unfortunately there just is no easy answer, at least not at this point. The easiest way to put is that Temple has potential, but considering that hopes springs eternal, everyone has potential! You may have noticed that Mike Gibson over at Temple Football Forever answered some questions of mine the other day, and actually predicted a Temple upset of the Midshipmen. He's reasoning is simple. Since Temple has had the benefit of the entire offseason to gear up for this game, and since Golden and his staff have upped their recruiting, Temple is now in a favorable position to beat Navy come Friday. There is certainly validity in both of these points, but, as we've seen before, to get caught up within these arguments is to ignore this game from Navy's perspective.

Enter, Paul Johnson.

The one thing I love about Johnson is he let's other coaches and programs frame the game. He takes it one at time and always has his team focused come game day. While Al Golden has spent the last few weeks trying to talk his team up (as he rightly should) and instill within them a degree of winning confidence, Johnson has stayed mostly mum as far as a scouting reports go, and has adapted his same old same "we'll see" attitude. Johnson doesn't usually show his cards, but perhaps in a rare move of overt confidence, let slip this little number:

There will be some wrinkles, but I have a pretty good idea of what they are going to do and I'm sure they have a real good idea of what we are going to do. They seem to think they do anyway.

Maybe I'm interpreting this incorrectly, but I think Johnson may be sending a strong but subtle reminder that there are two sides to this game, and that he's done a little game planning of his own (duh, I know.) He also seems to be sending a message to the media that Temple's supposed advantage (that being the time of the offseason to gameplan) may not be as big as Temple's fans or players may think. When you think about it, this makes sense. Over the past several years Navy has played opponents in openers just as good, and in many cases better, than Temple, and still managed to score points on them despite the ability of that team to spend substantial time preparing for the option. The simple fact is that extra time helps, but only up to a point, as getting reps against the scout team can never fully equate to getting reps against the genuine article. Johnson, ever the confident coach he is, knows that just because a team thinks they have "pitch tendencies" down doesn't mean they are going to stop the offense. Every year teams claim to have dissected the offense, only to see Johnson make the proper adjustments to exploit their plans. Behold:

It doesn't matter how many they put in the box with what we do, the more the merrier.

This quote comes from the same presser, and comes after a question about putting the ball up if the defense stacks the line. This is a very encouraging quote because it confirms Johnson's belief that as long as the team executes, he and his offense can do whatever they want, whether it be through the air or on the ground.

That's why I'm not too worried about Temple. It's Paul Johnson's nature not to talk up his own team, and it's his nature not to unleash the full potential of his coaching genius until after the game has started. Yet even as he talks another team up, you can see the confidence he has in his system. The best way to describe it is when you know your opponent has a good hand, but underneath that poker face you know that you have something better. The only issue then becomes getting the most out of that hand, and using it in it's full capacity. Temple may come out swinging. They may even connect on a few jabs. But when it's all said and done, I look for a very disciplined and very focused Navy team to score the final knockout.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pitch Right's First Annual All-Badass Team

About a month ago I started throwing around the idea of coming up with an All-American team. Yet after seeing virtually the same team picked by every preseason magazine and preview, the idea kind of lost some steam. That is until a few days ago, when an email from one of our readers, Justin, alerted me to the incredibly physical play of Army’s fullback Mike Viti. I’ve long been an admirer of Viti’s play, so much so that in a recent preview of Army I used to word “badass” to describe him. Amazingly, “badass” is not yet in the dictionary, but I did manage to scour the Internet for a good three minutes before I found a definition. From wikipedia:

“Badass” is also a term used in English language slang to refer to people who are considered to be tough. However unlike terms like “ruffian”, badass is usually used affectionately. Usually synonymous with tough guy. When used as an adjective, it means something so good it tramples the competition.

It hit me like an Epiphany, or at the very least a marginally relevant revelation (hooah for alliteration.) An All Badass team, combining some of the most talked about but also some of the most overlooked "grinders" in all of college football, based on on the field performance and the undefinable quality of "badassness." I'll admit that I don't have a hand;e on every college football player, so if you think someones deserving of this highly prestigious honer, let me know and I'll be sure to acknowledge them. So, with that I give you my first annual All-Badass Team:

QB: Stephen McGee, Texas A&M: You get crushed by a Longhorn defender. You get right back up and get in their face. You take the next play for a touchdown. That’s badass for you.

RB: Ian Johnson, Boise State: Played an entire game with a partially collapsed lung. Also crochets beanies for his teammates. Oh yea, and he’s a pretty damn good football player.

FB: Mike Viti, Army: The man, the myth, the legend. Could probably end terrorism single-handily if he was not playing football. Honorable mention goes to Adam Ballard, who has the ability to destroy linebackers whenever he touches the ball.

WR: Jarrett Dillard, Rice: I'll be honest, I don't know if the soft spoken and humble Dillard could really qualify as a "badass," but the guy just does everything right. In a climate where we're constantly hearing about size and forty times, Dillard brings it back to basics and reminds us of the true hallmarks of a great wide receiver. I'm talking about hands, field presence, and body control, qualities to which Dillard is second to none.

WR: Dicky Lyons Jr, Kentucky: The now infamous video has been removed, but you can read the fallout. "I'm Dicky Fing Lyons Jr. and I can do what I want." Probably a jerk in real life, but we're willing to overlook that for the sake of this team.

WR Marcus Monk, Arkansas: Sick combination of size and speed. He averaged 19.2 ypc with eleven touchdowns last season.

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri: A physical tight end who caught nine balls for touchdowns last season.

RT Michael Oher, Mississippi: Technically he's a left tackle, but I had to get Long in here so for the sake or argument I'm moving Michael to the right side. Ever since reading the Blind Side I can't get over the fact that he used to pick up defensive ends and carry them downfield in high school.

RG Chilo Rachel, USC: Yes he has a weird and gender defying name, but he's one of the top linemen in the PAC-10. Mostly though, he has a weird and gender defying name.

C Antron Harper, Navy: Homerism? Considering he's never played a game at center on the college level, probably, but he's a master technician with incredible strength for his size. Paul Johnson once said he'd play Antron and four cones for his offensive line.

LG Matthew Brim, Wake Forest: Customary mention representing all offensive lineman who play who STEED LABOTZKE.

LT Jake Long, Michigan: There ain't a lot I can say about Jake Long, except that he was a first team All American last year and bears the physical on-the field presence of the incredible hulk.
DE Tommy Blake: One of the most disruptive players to ever play in the MWC, Blake gears up with fellow Horned Frog Chase Ortiz to form the best defensive end combo in the entire country.

DT Eric Foster, Rutgers: Because he plays for Rutgers I must inevitably hate Foster, and although I'm not a fan of this nonsense being played over ESPN in excess of 500 times, he's a damn good football player and the heart and soul of Rutgers' revamped defense.

DT Jason Jones, Eastern Michigan: Jones is one of those great players who plays on a really, really bad team. Incredibly athletic for his 6'5 frame, he relies on explosive force to cause havoc in the backfield (4 sack, 14.5 tfl) rather than excessive bulk (fatitude.)

DE: Chris Long, Virginia: Commands double teams and is arguably one of the most feared pass rushers in the country, we like Long here because his dad was a solid badass in his hay day.

LB: J Leman, Illinois: Anyone with the audacity to wear an American flag tie while sporting a mullet in their official photo is the genuine article in my book. Plus he kills people on the field.

LB Mark Dodge, Texas A&M: Former member of the Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment, also hits people with violent force.

LB Bo Ruud, Nebraska: The name alone screams the destructive capability of a star wars bounty hunter. It also helps that he's one of the most dynamic linebackers in the Big 12.

CB Julius Stinson, Wyoming: Stinson doesn't get the attention he deserves because he plays in Laramie, but he's one of the best corners in the nation against the run and brings the wood whenever he steps onto the field.

CB Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin: Being a badass at the cornerback position means being stout against the run and not shying away from contact, two qualities Ikegwuonu certainly has.

FS: Marty Tadman, Boise State: Completely covered in God-fearing tattoos. Gave up his drug addiction and became a devout Christian, which is completely badass if you ask me.

SS: Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame: How can you not have Zbikowski here? Not only does he sport a badass Mohawk, but he has literally KO’d people in the ring.

Suggestions, additions? Let me know.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Afternoon Media Watch

Press Briefings:

August 23rd: Coach Johnson discusses the new Superintendent, the new kickoff rule, and the loss of Ryan Burke at center (quit the team.)

August 24th: Coach Johnson tells Christian Swezey that 72 players will dress for Temple, and that plebe wide receiver Mario Washington has left both the team and the Academy (apparently he changed his mind.)

August 25th: Coach Johnson addresses questions about Friday's scrimmage, the possibility of using Zerb Singleton as a kick returner, and which plebe's will make the trip to Philadelphia.

Newspaper Articles:

Mids Busy Covering All Bases (Annapolis Capital): Bill Wagner gives us his scrimmage report from Friday.

Can Navy Give Johnson No. 100? (Baltimore Examiner): Wait, since when does Gary Lambrecht write for the examiner?

Taylors More Than An Average Joe And Joey (Washington Post): Christian Swezey gets the inside story on the juniors who share the same name.

Policy Shift Leaves The Brigade At Home (Washington Examiner): All I can say is that with six days until Temple I'm not going to touch this again.

Navy Linebackers Must Step Forward (Annapolis Capital): For the record I've been calling them "the Matt's" for weeks now.

Cliff Notes: Navy held a situational scrimmage on Friday in which the scout team predictably got clobbered...Plebe wideout Mario Washington apparently quit the team and the Academy only to come back the next day...David Ausiello has a good article in which he finds an unlikely ally for those who wish to see Midshipmen at the Temple game...Navy center Antron Harper has been named to the preseason watch list for the prestigious Lombardi Award, which is given annually to the nation's best offensive lineman...River Hill (Md) linebacker Jonathan Hill recently spoke with about his commitment. Hill plays for a very strong program in HoCo (Howard County, where I'm from) and runs in the low to mid 4.5s.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New Poll

I've had a crazy day and a half here, but I've got a new poll to tickle your fancy. The question is as simple as can be, and I don't anticipate a whole lot of parody in the responses. It's simple, Will Navy beat Temple next Friday? Poll closes 2ish next Friday, so be sure to get your vote in.

Also, Eric over at SaturdaySoundOffs is doing a little blogger Q&A that I'm participating in. It'll be out sometime within the next day, so be sure to head over there to check it out.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Word on the New Administration

EDIT: David Ausiello has a good article over at that runs down some the changes and covers the "official" response from the Academy in regards to support for athletics. I'd recommend reading this if any of the below is news to you.

There is not a lot I can say about the ongoing changes that VADM and new Superintendent Jeffrey Fowler has made at the Academy. As frequent readers know I did not attend the Naval Academy, and have never served in the Navy in any capacity. This, admittedly, makes me a little wary of passing judgement upon administrative decisions and, as my West Point friends say, "navy stuff."

All that being said, it would be pointless for me to ignore these questions altogether. As I pointed out in my last scrimmage debrief, there is a general concern on the count of the players concerning these changes and how they relate to athletics, particularly Brigade support and the question of Army week. As Coach Johnson pointed out the other night on WBAL, there are only expected to be 200 Midshipmen in attendance for the temple game, a figure which does not reflect well when you consider the by-products of Navy's success on the gridiron; most notably increased attention for the Academy and it's athletic programs. There is also growing concern that these decisions may be precursors to other attempts to reduce the role of athletics at the Academy, although to be fair many of these concerns are still rooted in rumors. I won't lie, these new changes certainly concern me, and I only hope that the new Superintendent can understand just how important Navy's recent success across the athletic spectrum has been. But more than anything else, I hope that he does what's in the best interest of the Brigade, the Navy, and the country itself, and finds an appropriate course of action that benifits each.

For those of you looking for a more thorough review of these changes and an opinion from both a graduate and navy sports fan, I highly recommend heading over to the Bird Dog and taking a look at Phelix's post entitled "Self-Inflicted Wounds." There is also some very good discussion in the comment section of the post, so be sure to give that a perusal as well. As far as the rest of the week goes here, I can't make any promises with regards to posting. With school starting up again I have to pack up all my stuff and get moved in tomorrow and Friday, and depending on how much crap I'm required to do over the weekend, I may or may not be able to finish up some posts I've had in the works for awhile. I'll definitely try to chime in if I get the chance, but it may just be passing along stuff I've read on the Internet.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Adam Ballard Getting Pro Looks

Bill Wagner has a real good article today on Navy fullback Adam Ballard and his business-like approach to the offseason. While Ballard's attendance at 30 of the 36 conditioning sessions is impressive and his muscle gain is certainly noteworthy, the most interesting part of the article comes near the end, when Coach Johnson confirms that pro scouts have been at the Naval Academy to take a look at Ballard.

All of this was prompted by Monday's press briefing after practice, in which Wagner asked a number of questions ranging from how Adam compares to former fullback Kyle Eckel to whether or not he has similar pro potential. Johnson maintained that the two backs were "just different" but both could play in the professional ranks if they found the right team. The unfortunate part of that scenario is that the fullback position is a dying one in the NFL, especially for players who are more equipped to be a feature ballcarrier as opposed to a lead blocker.

I know all of this talk is premature and perhaps even unfair to Adam to speculate about, but I think that if Kyle could get a shot, Adam deserves one as well (if that is in fact what he wants.) Personally, I think that Adam is a better player than Kyle was. I know the numbers may not compare (at least at this point) but part of that is circumstantial. Kyle played in an offense that was much more centered around him, while Adam has had to split carries with playmakers like Reggie Campbell, Shun White, and a trio of very good running quarterbacks (Owens, Hampton, Enhada.) That's not to take anything away from guys like Candeto or Polanco or Eric Roberts,, but as far as carries go, Adam just hasn't gotten as many. In addition, Adam was banged up last season, and missed all or a significant part of four games (BC, Temple, Army, EMU.) When you look at the two backs physically, I think Adam comes across as the better athlete as well. He's faster than Kyle was, and stronger as well. He doesn't run with the same shiftiness that Kyle was able to, although I would consider Adam to probably be the better blocker, which in the grand scheme of things may be more important than running style. It's highly unlikely Adam would be drafted (Kyle wasn't) with a looming service commitment, but I think he stands a good chance of being picked up as a free agent and earning an invitation to an NFL camp.
As for any of this actually developing, who knows. I've been fortunate enough to be able to talk with Adam a few times over the summer, and I know that he's as focused as he's ever been on both the upcoming season and his service commitment after graduation. Still, he'll have a chance to impress scouts during the annual East West Shrine Game, which he was chosen to participate in after the Bowl season is complete. Whatever happens as far Adam's pro prospects go, I certainly wish him the best of luck, and can't wait to see him have what figures to be a monster season in 2007.

More Scouting News: Coach Johnson also mentioned that two pro scouts were recently at the Academy to watch senior linebacker Irv Spencer, who coincidentally also has a badaas beard.

New Depth Chart

Courtesy of, here are some notable changes...
  • Zerbin Singleton is once again listed as the "starting slotback" opposite Reggie Campbell. You may recall that Shun White earned the starting spot on last week's depth chart, a point which really doesn't matter because all three guys are going to play a lot of snaps anyway.
  • DE Casey Herbert is off the team, basically giving the right end job junior Michael Walsh, who has had a solid camp.
  • Andrew Lark is second on the depth chart at Nose Guard, which in some capacity confirms that the "looks" test is not totally inapplicable.
  • A couple interestingly placed "ORs" on defense, including one at the outside linebacking position with the Matt's (Humiston, Wimsatt, Nechak.) Matt Nechak has had an outstanding camp and his hard work has earned him a spot up there with Humiston and Wimsatt, but I think the two seniors get the "official" start come Temple. But I wouldn't worry if I were Matt Nechak. He'll likely get his chances to come in and play in 2007, and he has a very promising future ahead of him.
  • Pospisil and Haberer are second at the ILB spots. What can I say, we have a lot of talented sophomores.
  • Joe Taylor, as reported, is on the three deep at outside linebacker.
  • The starting secondary looks to be more or less up and running, although the backups still have to be worked out. If I'd have to guess right now, the "nickleback" would be Blake Carter or maybe even Wyatt Middleton. But then again I'm just a blogger, so what do I know.
  • The punting job is wide open. I'm talking whoever wants it. Kyle, Greg, or Joey. Because Joey has always taken the time to talk with me in the past, I'm hoping he can win it. He's a helluva nice guy and it would be a shame to see him (or Greg, for that matter) spend their senior year on the bench.

That's all for now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

More Bad News for Pitt

Keeping you updated on the latest news from Navy's 2007 opponents; Pittsburgh offensive lineman and much-heralded freshman Chris Jacobson dislocated his kneecap before a scrimmage on Saturday, an injury which will more than likely end his 2007 season. Jacobson was one of the best offensive line prospects coming out of High School last year, and was expected to compete for a starting job in camp.

News out of Denton

Here's some interesting news out of the the University of North Texas, as first year Head Coach Todd Dodge seems to have settled on a quarterback. Word is that Dodge has elected to go with Daniel Meager, who started five games last season, in the opener in Norman. Meager beat out true freshmen Giovanni Vizza for the starting job.

I've gone on record several times these past couple months of saying that North Texas was the "worst" team Navy will play in the upcoming season. This is not a vote of no confidence for Coach Dodge or the offense which he's installing, but I just think when you look at the past two seasons in Denton and factor in the obviouse turnover in staff and system, one has to figure this is a rebuilding year for the Mean Green. Several people have pointed out that Rice underwent a similar shift from a run-first offense to a spread, pass-heavy offense and was successful in doing so, and my only rebuttal to such an argument would be to say that such occurrences happen very, very rarely. Dodge will get this program on the right path. He's a solid recruiter with in-state ties to the high school level, and has more than proven himself as an X's and O's guy at Southlake Carroll. The Mean Green will however struggle this season, and will have to play the Midshipmen during the month of November- a time in which Navy has traditionally been very strong under Paul Johnson.

Paul Johnson Hits the Big 5-0

Sending our best birthday wishes to the best coach in college football as he turns 50 today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Night Media Watch

Official Business:

Paul Johnson's Post Scrimmage Transcript: Johnson tones back some of the excitement over Ricky Dobbs, but gives out some love to Ballard and Kaipo.

Big Media:

Lagging Defense Concerns Midshipmen (Bill Wagner, Annapolis Capital)

BBQ, An Early Navy Kickoff And A Sneak Peak At QB (Corey Masisak, Washington Times)

Mids Defense Experiences Ups And Downs (Corey Masisak, Washington Times)

Navy Defense Shows Signs Of Stinginess (Christian Swezey, Washington Post)

Prior Enlisted Men Add Something To The Team (Bill Wagner, Annapolis Capital)

Cliff Notes:

Jeff Deliz and Rashawn King should both be back within the next week...Paul Johnson was on "Washington Post Live" on Friday night, and I caught the tail end of it. Lots of good things said about him and the program, including the affirmation that the Fridge and Maryland wanted no part of Navy last year...Bill Wagner brings us the unfortunate news that former Navy wide receiver Jason Tomlinson chose not to graduate with the class of 2007, and is now in limbo. He could be made to pay back the full cost of tuition, or he could be forced to serve as an enlisted man in the fleet...Former QB Joe Taylor (not Joey) has been moved to outside linebacker.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Scrimmage Report: 8/18 Edition

Well, I just got back from another great morning down at the stadium, and as promised have the full report of all the action. Official press release from can be found right hyah.

We'll start off with the first team offense, and the very good news that quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is out of his neck brace and managed to play two series'. It's a good thing to, because with Kaipo-Noa in the game the first team offense is almost unstoppable, as demonstrated by the fact that they took the ball right down the field on the first series for an early touchdown. The offensive line clearly got the best of the defensive line early in the game, and Adam Ballard ran extremely well in a style which could only be described as "gashing." Kaipo-Noa did not throw the ball often, but as was the case last week he looked comfortable in the pocket and put the ball right on the money. He clearly has a hold on the number one job. Most of the option plays were keepers or pitches to Zerbin Singleton, who had a fine game. Reggie did not touch the ball and saw limited action, although he did throw some very nice blocks. Shun White had (I believe) one catch but was otherwise not featured today. Ballard was the star for the first team offense, running 11 times for 80 yards, with 79 of those yards coming on the first series.

As for the number one defense, let's just say things improved once Kaipo was out of the lineup and Ballard was no longer the focal point. I was impressed by the defensive line as the the scrimmage wore on, especially as far as getting penetration into the backfield goes. There are still some issues that need to be resolved as far as the inside running game goes, but both Nate Frazier and Chirs Kahur Pitters were able to get into the backfield and cause some disruption. Nate also really impressed me on a screen in which the 285-lb sophomore ran down Eric Kettani after "feeling" the play develop (albeit ten yards downfield.) Pitch Right's pick for "surprise defensive player of the year" Matt Nechak had another solid outing with eight tackles, including two for a loss and a sack, while former basketball star turned safety Corey Johnson looked good in run support with ten tackles. Watching the defense play out there today got me thinking. I know there are some obvious concerns but I like that a lot of guys are getting reps in practice and I like our chances for the season. There is a good deal of sideline to sideline speed our there and in general the pursuit was outstanding. There was certainly some major hitting going, a point established early by Ketric Buffin, who amazes me with his ability to cut down much larger players in the open field. I'm also getting really excited about the linebacker unit, which I've maintained all offseason is still the strength of the defense. Matt Humiston and Michael Walsh look like they are going to be solid players on the outside this year. And speaking of linebackers, we've got some very talented and aggressive backups waiting in the wings, including guys like Tony Haberer and the aforementioned Matt Nechak.

Plebe Ricky Dobbs continued to impress, as he showed off precision accuracy and great elusiveness within the pocket. He threw a bullet to Mike Schupp who made a nice move to get into the endzone late in the scrimmage. Dobbs has been working with the second and the third teams, but for those of you keeping track of the quarterback competition for 2009, I think we've found our favorite. In fact, he may even move to third string before the end of camp. I hate to say this because I know how hard Troy Goss has worked, but I think his catch-22 continues considering how well Dobbs has been playing. As for Troy, well, he did show some real courage running the option today, and looked more aggressive running the football than I've seen in the past. However he and the other backup quarterbacks (including Dobbs) need to show better care in taking care of the football. I don't know what it was today but we seemed to have a lot of trouble on exchanges from center and to the fullback. These are basic tenants of the offense, and seeing the ball on the ground that many times is not encouraging.

Some more random tidbits: T.J. Thiel has quietly emerged as one of the better reserve receivers on this team, and could be putting himself in line for playing time this season... Speaking of wide receivers, plebe Mike Schupp showed off some good hands and athletic ability, although he did blow a blocking assignment on an early end-around...Plebe Wyatt Middleton is an explosive and aggressive player in the defensive secondary, and has great nose for the football... I thought he did an excellent job in run support today... Bobby Doyle took a real shot on the scrimmage and had to be directed off the field, but I sat at his table during lunch and he seemed to indicate he was o.k...Speaking of banged up slotbacks, I ran into our good friend Greg Shinego who thanked me for all the publicity and said he'd be ready for Temple on the 31st...Last week's star Andre Byrd was not in the lineup today, likely due to a problem with his paperwork going through the NCAA Clearinghouse...A fellow I was chatting with behind me during the play asked me if I had already graduated the Academy, to which I responded that I'm just a local fan who attends a nearby University. I bring this up because it's a far cry from when I met's David Ausiello, who pegged me as a freshmen in high school. Both of course are forgiven, as I know it's sometimes difficult to gauge the age of a, uh, vertically challenged individual.

At the Blue-and-Gold cookout after the scrimmage I was able to talk to some players and hear some interesting tidbits. First off I sat across from Nate Frazier at lunch and man let me tell you that guy enjoys his meals (as can be expected.) I don't think I heard more than a few words out of him the entire time. I sat next to Jordan Reagan, who confirmed that Greg Thrasher would be suspended for the first game because he "broke some team rules." Apparently, he's working with the scout team in the meantime. Eric Kettani was also nearby, and we chatted for awhile about the blog, the new Supe, and the fate of Army week. He said that as far as he knew, all the football players signed their "two-for-sevens."

Overall, most of the players did voice their disappointment that movement orders for Midshipmen have been cancelled for several of the away games. Most of the guys understood the need to improve discipline and were fine with several of the measures taken, but they couldn't get over not having a large contingent of Mids in the stands for Temple and Rutgers. In addition, a lot of the guys were worried about Army week, in particular the rumors that it may not exist anymore. I happen to share some of their concerns, and just hope that the Academy can maintain the outstanding support of the football program without having to sacrifice discipline. I'll have more thoughts on this particular matter early next week.

Well, that's about all to it. This scrimmage was not a whole lot different from the last one in what we can take out of it. The number one offense is going to move the ball, that much is apparent, but I think the defense is coming along. It will be really interesting to see how they do against a non-option offense, especially considering all the athletic ability in the linebacking corps and secondary. All in all, there is progress being made and guys working hard to solidify or push for positions, and the team is finally starting to come together.

I'll do my best to answer questions or give my thoughts if anyone has any comments.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Army and Navy Previews Up

As promised, courtesy of

Navy Preview

Army Preview

Both previews are extremely optimistic, so for the doom and gloom types, I apologize, but this is preseason after all.

Mike Tauliliwhatever is Back

It's not that I take any enjoyment in reading about student athletes who risk their future and endanger society by driving impaired while carrying a concealed weapon, but the return of linebacker Mike Tauiliili to Duke was not exactly wlecomed news to me this morning. I understand the need for the legal system to work itself out, but considering the litany of charges brought against him and Duke's recent history with various offenders, I was more than a little surprised to see that Head Coach Ted Roof will allow Tauiliili to play the season after sitting out the opener. From a purely football perspective, this means Duke will get it's best defensive player back for the season, and presumably against Navy, negating the "major" hit clarification I gave the suspension earlier this week. Anyone else think Ted Roof is just tyring to save face and avoid a Zach Asack collapse-of-the-entire year situation?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Zerb! (and other stuff)

Don't get me wrong. Zerb Singleton is one of my favorite players on this Navy team and always a fun guy to talk with, but I was a little surprised to see the latest issue of Sports Illustrated rank him as our "top ballcarrier." It's not that Zerb isn't a fine back, because he certainly is, but I think Adam Ballard, Reggie Campbell, and Shun White might have something to say about who the "top ballcarrier" is by seasons end.

Speaking of explosive backfield combinations, there seems to be a lot of talk around the major media outlets of the top backfields in the country. Not only was it a topic of conversation on ESPN's College Football Live the other day, but it's the topic of a recent article by columnist Cory McCartney. Cory ranks the top ten backfield "duos" in the country, but because he decides to account for all nine of USC's VHT running backs, he's really ranking the entire backfield. I know the Midshipmen don't sport the same kind of talent as the likes of Texas A&M, Clemson, and others, but I think it's worth giving the Mids a mention in rankings like this. After all, Navy is the leading rushing team in the country, and returns three backs who rushed for over 500 yards last season, as well as quarterback Kaipo-Noa. And while Reggie Campbell might not be Mike Goodson and Adam Ballard doesn't get the publicity of a Jorvorskie Lane, I wouldn't underestimate the pure talent of Navy's backfield. After all, Phil Steele ranked the Midshipmen as his #6 backfield in the country, and had I been writing the article I would of given the Midshipmen a similar ranking.
And before I forget, we have a new poll on the side bar asking whether or not you (the fan) would want to see a series against the Maryland Terrapins in the near future. Be sure to get your votes in before it closes out next Thursday. That is all.
(Picture by

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday Media Watch

Navy Football Articles:

Apparently we're "Mulling" a Conference Move (Baltimore Examiner): Um, yikes...

Wagner Article on Plebes Moving on Up (Crabwrapper): Nothing knew here, although Wagner seems to confirm that Thrasher will be suspended for the opener.

Wagner Article on "D" (Crabwrapper): Basically a summery of what's going on with the defense these days.

Freshmen Are Bright Spots In Scrimmage (Washington Times): Self-explanatory.

Blog Posts I Like:

Evolution of an Offense (Blue-Gray Sky): Incredibly insightful post about Notre Dame's need to change the offense this year based on different packages in the offense. Michael's conclusion? The Irish will be running more looks with two-tight ends and more looks with two backs in the backfield.

Top 10 Running Backs in the Country (Heisman Pundit): Heisman Pundit has been churning out some great content in a lead up to the season as of late, be sure to check this out.

Kyle's Preseason Top 25 (Dawg Sports): An SEC perspective for you.

Lee Corso Drops an F-Bomb, or does he? (EDSBS): I first saw this on the Fan House, but there is an interesting discussion going on at EDSBS about whether or not it was Lee Corse who inexplicably drops an F-bomb in a college game day report two or three years back.

Predicting the Mountain West (Block U): Sean predicts the records of every team in the conference, and tells us why he thinks his Utes will play Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Revisiting Notre Dame's Spring Questions (Rakes of Mallow): Rob checks in on Notre Dame camp.

Phil's Weekly Notes ( Very insightful at usual.

Anything on Saturday Sound Offs: Somebody give Eric a medal. He's been relentless in his previews of all 120 FBS teams.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PJ's Monday Presser

"What's wrong with Kaipo. He has a neck brace on."
-Bill Wagner

"Hell, he hurt his neck. Why do you think he would be wearing a neck brace if he didn't hurt his neck? "

-Paul Johnson

The good news is that he will be ok (stinger), but needless to say the above certainly caught me by surprise when I checked into this afternoon. Par usual, Paul Johnson's matter-of-fact style in golden.

Coach Johnson also addressed the issue of punter with Wagner and Masisak, saying that returning starter Greg Veteto and plebe Kyle Delahooke are "about even." He went on to say that none of the punters have shown the consistency he's looking for, and reiterated that the position is "wide open."

Now comes the interesting part. After more or less discussing the all to apparent fact that the secondary is banged up and Coach Green is seemingly plugging in a different guy everyday, Coach Johnson let slip that senior cornerback Greg Thrasher "may be"" suspended for the first game of the year. Johnson said that their was a "football related" problem with Thrasher, which by my calculations means A) He flat out stinks or B) He broke some kind of a team rule. I don't like speculating into these kinds of things but considering the relative youth in the unit and Thrasher's prior performance in '05, I wouldn't be going too far out on a limb to say it was not choice "A." We'll have to see, I've always liked Greg and with everything going on with injuries I'd like to see him in there come Temple, although I know guys like Blake Carter and Ram Vela have shown promise in camp.

All and all, not the most uplifting of pressers, although Coach Johnson did say that all the "banged up" players in the secondary should be back within the next 2-3 days, including Jeff Deliz and *hopefully* Rashawn King. After all the injuries last year, I don't think Johnson and the staff are willing to take any risks with these guys in camp, and as long as the team is ready for Temple, that's a good thing.

Countdown to Kickoff: Jeff Deliz Edition

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blog Poll Top 25: I Love the Big 24 Edition

1Southern Cal 25
2Texas 24
3West Virginia 23
4Michigan 22
5Wisconsin 21
6LSU 20
7Florida 19
8Louisville 18
9Texas A&M 17
10Virginia Tech 16
11Penn State 15
12Oklahoma 14
13UCLA 13
14Oregon 12
15Hawaii 11
16California 10
17TCU 9
18Ohio State 8
19Missouri 7
20Boise State 6
21Nebraska 5
22Arkansas 4
23South Florida 3
24Wake Forest 2
25Iowa 1

Dropped Out: None
On the Cusp: Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Rutgers, Oregon, Georgia Tech
Teams I Intentionally Screwed: Oregon State

Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes: I was really trying to find a way not to have Southern Cal as the number one team in the country, but considering I have no love for the other possible choices (Texas, LSU, West Virginia) I swallowed my pride and put what really is hands down the best team in the land...Obviously, my poll is heavy when it comes to Big 12 and Big 10 teams, or as I like to say, Big 24 teams (even though combined they only have 23 teams,) partially out of hopeless bias against the SEC and Pac 10, but also because I think we're seeing a resurgence in the two conferences...The two big surprises off the bat may be Wisconsin at #5 and Texas A&M at #9, neither of which I plan on apologizing for nor changing when we're asked to to type up another poll next week. Wisconsin is the most underrated team in the entire country with 16 returning starters and Michigan has to come through Madison this season. Yea, they do lose Stocco but so what, LSU lost Russell and Oklahoma doesn't even have a quarterback and you don't see people dropping them out of the Top 10. I like Tyler Donovan at QB and what may be the most underrated WR group in the country. As far as A&M goes all anyone wants to talk about is the loss to Cal in the Bowl game. Never mind the fifteen returning starters this year including the best backfield (McGee, Goodson, Lane) and offensive line combination in the entire country, as well a defense which has steadily improved and looks poised to mirror Aggie defenses of the past. I would not be at all surprised if COoch Fran's group rolled into Norman undefeated on November 3rd...Speaking of those two teams, what do they have in common? Offensive lines! My thinking has really progressed over the past year, and unlike the folks over at ESPN who always insist on exaggerating the 40 times of skill positions players and referencing statistics compiled against easy non-conference foes, I prefer to to stick with the basics. If you have a solid O-Line that can open up holes in the running game and capable wide receivers then you my friend are going to succeed as a football team (that is unless you don't play defense, See Purdue)...Speaking of team's with good O-Line's, OMG Adam how could you not have Rutgers in your Top 25? Well, because I don't. Brian has gone ahead and asked us bloggers to make a case for one team which is overrated and one which is underrated. I've already decided on going with Rutgers as my overrated program, and have narrowed my underrated program down to Wake Forest or Texas A&M. Stay tuned for both those write ups later this week...

Any questions, comments, or angry rebuttals can be addressed in the comment box below. Since we have to come up with a revised Top 25 next week, I'm open to any and all criticisms.