2009 Season Preview
NAVY POSITION BREAKDOWN
Quarterbacks: Junior Ricky Dobbs, one of three Navy quarterbacks to start a game last season, is a more accomplished passer than his predecessors, and Navy coaches have said they will take advantage of that. He completed 9 of 16 passes for 212 yards and rushed for 495 yards in eight games. His backups have little to no collegiate experience.
Fullbacks: Sophomore Alexander Teich, who had seven carries for 24 yards last year, will be the workhorse. At 6 feet and 212 pounds, he's not as big as previous Navy fullbacks, but he is faster and more athletic. Backups Vince Murray and Jordan Eddington, a converted linebacker, have yet to record a varsity carry.
Slotbacks: Unlike the previous three seasons, Navy does not have a speedy, star slotback. Instead, they have dependable seniors Bobby Doyle and Cory Finnerty and a slew of young, athletic players. Sophomore Marcus Curry had a strong spring, and freshman Gee Gee Greene was impressive during preseason.
Wide Receivers: The Midshipmen hope to have more of a passing game this season, but they have an inexperienced receiving corps. Juniors Mario Washington and Mike Schupp combined for four catches last season.
Offensive Line: T Jeff Battipaglia, T Matt Molloy and G Curtis Bass are returning starters, and G Osei Asante, the offensive captain, appeared in 13 games as a reserve. Navy does not have a center with varsity experience at the position, and Bass may start the season there.
Defensive Line: NG Nate Frazier's dismissal leaves a big hole, but Navy is strong at defensive end. Sophomore Jabaree Tuani and senior Matt Nechak combined for 17(1/2 ( tackles for a loss, and senior Mike Walsh (10(1/2 ( tackles for a loss in 2007) is back after missing most of last season with an injury.
Linebackers: This is a deep and talented group, with five players who have starting experience. Senior Ross Pospisil, the defensive team captain, led Navy with 106 tackles and forced key turnovers in wins over Rutgers, Wake Forest and Temple. Fifth-year senior Clint Sovie, who has played in 40 games, moved from inside to outside linebacker.
Defensive Backs: Juniors Wyatt Middleton (rover), Emmett Merchant (free safety) and Kevin Edwards (cornerback) are best friends, which hopefully will bolster a unit where communication and trust is paramount. Senior Blake Carter, a special teams standout, has started 11 games in his career.
Kicker-Punter: Navy has a dependable punter in junior Kyle Delahooke (41.6 yards per punt in 2008), but is unsettled at place kicker. Sophomore Jon Teague and junior Joe Buckley - neither of whom has attempted a field goal in a game - competed for the job in the preseason.
Kick Returner: The Midshipmen received few big plays from its return game last season. Greene and Finnerty are slated to return kickoffs; neither has filled that role before. Washington averaged 6.2 yards per punt return in 2008.
-- Camille Powell
This Navy Safety's Parents Played Down Competition Among Four Athletic Children
Game to Watch
vs. Air Force, Oct. 3
Army-Navy is the marquee rivalry, but Air Force-Navy has been the better matchup lately, with five of the past six games - all won by the Midshipmen - being decided by a touchdown or less. Those victories led to six straight Commander-in-Chief's trophies for the Midshipmen, which ties the record set by Air Force from 1997 to 2002. The Falcons have not won at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since 1997.
Jabaree Tuani, DE
Tuani became the first Navy freshman to start on the defensive line in a decade and was terrific, leading the team in tackles for loss (nine) and tying for the team lead in forced fumbles (three). He was named the ECAC rookie of the year over players from BCS schools. He was dominant during preseason practices but will have to adjust to added attention from opponents following the dismissal of nose guard Nate Frazier.
Pack Your Bags For...
Houston. Navy faces one of its toughest schedules in recent seasons, starting with a trip to Ohio State, one of eight opponents that played in a bowl game last season. Still, the Midshipmen have enough experience to reach seven wins and book their spot in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 31. Navy began its current streak of consecutive bowl appearances in 2003 with a trip to Reliant Stadium for what was then known as the Houston Bowl.
|Sept. 5||at Ohio State|
|Sept. 12||La. Tech|
|Sept. 19||at Pittsburgh|
|Sept. 26||W. Kentucky|
|Oct. 3||Air Force|
|Oct. 10||at Rice|
|Oct. 17||at SMU|
|Oct. 24||Wake Forest|
|Nov. 7||at Notre Dame|
|Nov. 28||at Hawaii|
|Dec. 12||vs. Army|