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Navy Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/20/2008
The College Football is right around the corner and Matt Fargo is deep in study and will once again provide his take on each and every NCAA team. We continue the countdown so keep checking in for more previews!
No. 84 Navy Midshipmen
2007 Record ~ 8-5 SU ~ 5-7 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (4) Defense (8)
Coach Paul Johnson, who led Navy to five consecutive bowl games, has departed to Georgia Tech but that does not mean the Midshipmen are going to change much. The new man in charge is Ken Niumatalolo who served under Johnsonâ€™s regime for 10 years so he knows the ins and outs of what is going on. He actually has a game under his belt as he coached Navy against Utah in the three-point Poinsettia Bowl loss. The Midshipmen may have a new leader but things are going to be the same.
The main cog that drives this engine is the running game. The triple option attack is not going anywhere and it shouldnâ€™t considering Navy became the first team in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing for three straight seasons. Quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada returns to lead the offense and despite only three other starters returning, he is not without weapons. Jarod Bryant has shifted to slot back along with Shun White and fullback Eric Kettani provides a solid trio of backs.
Defensively is where Navy hurt itself last season as it finished the year ranked 99th in total defense, 106th in passing defense and 108th in scoring defense. Giving up 52 points to 1-AA Delaware shows there were definite problems. A large part of the failures had to do with a number of key injuries hitting the defense and a lot of those players will be back this season. Confidence was completely shot last season so a new start is just what the unit needs and it should be much better for it.
Part of the reason that Navy should make it back to a bowl game is that the schedule is not very difficult. It starts with a home game against Towson followed by swing games at Ball St. and Duke. The next four games will be a challenge playing Rutgers, Wake Forest, Air Force and Pittsburgh. The slate ends relatively tame with a game against Notre Dame being the toughest of the final five. In 2007, Navy had its first losing season against the number in four years but it should be able to reverse that this season.