After going 3-8 last season, Navy has made plenty of changes.
Coach Charlie Weatherbie's staff has undergone a significant shuffle, with a new defensive coordinator, Tim DeRuyter; a new offensive coordinator, Mike Vaught; and a new assistant head coach, former Air Force assistant Sammy Steinmark.
More noticeable to fans, however, will be the change to a defensive alignment with three linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs from a defense that had four linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs.
The switch is designed to take advantage of Navy's smaller, quicker players. Weatherbie hopes the addition of two outside linebackers in place of a tackle and a safety will help the Midshipmen decrease the number of big plays they allow. Last season, they were 107th in Division I-A in total defense.
"It's better suited to the types of players we attract at the academy," said strong safety Jamie Doffermyre, who led the team with 127 tackles last year.
"We have more linebackers than anything else, so it's going to help."
Offensively, Navy seems in good hands with returning quarterback Brian Broadwater, a junior who won the starting job in the middle of last season. For the season, he rushed for 679 yards and five touchdowns and threw for 838 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. The coaches also like sophomore quarterback Brian Madden, who led the junior varsity to a 7-1 record last season.
"I would assume that Madden will see some playing time," Weatherbie said. "He's a young man who showed us some great things this spring."
Fullback is a question mark following the graduations of three players who combined for more than 1,200 yards rushing last season; two sophomores, Marlon Terrell and Raheem Lambert, will compete for playing time there.
Senior John Vareen and sophomore Dre Brittingham figure to get most of the carries at slotback.
Senior center Terrence Anderson will anchor what should be a solid offensive line.
Weatherbie also will add a new offensive wrinkle, occasionally using a tight end -- especially in short-yardage situations.
The Midshipmen will have plenty of chances to pull upsets, as they face five teams that played in bowl games last season. Those five -- Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Air Force, Notre Dame and Tulane -- combined to win 51 of 61 games a year ago.
"We have the opportunity to shock the world," said Doffermyre.
Players to Watch.
QB Brian Broadwater (679 yards rushing 5 TDs; 47 of 98 passing, 838 yards, 7 TDs, 6 INTs)
SB John Vereen (210 yards rushing, 3 TDs)
S Jamie Doffermyre (team-best 127 tackles)
DT Gino Marchetti (37 tackles)
LB Daryl Hill (31 tackles)
P Tray Calisch (40.6 yards per punt)
Top Players Lost.
FB Irv Dingle (668 yards rushing, 6 TDs)
WR Ryan Read (17 receptions, 433 yards, 6 TDs; transferred to Boston College)
S Adam Crecion (77 tackles)
LB Brad Chatlos (54 tackles)
DT Jason Snider (41 tackles)
Sept. 4 Georgia Tech, Noon, HTS
Georgia Tech needs to find replacements at punter, place kicker and kick returner.
Sept. 11 at Kent, 6 p.m., no TV
Kent was winless last season. QB Jose Davis had 32 TD passes in 1997, nine in 1998.
Sept. 18 Boston College, Noon, HTS
Boston College Coach Tom O'Brien might be looking for work if Eagles don't improve.
Sept. 25 at Rice, 8 p.m., no TV
Ranked fifth in the nation in rushing offense (257.2 ypg) but 111th in passing offense (60.6).
Oct. 2 at West Virginia, Noon, no TV
If they get that far, Mountaineers hope to avoid eighth straight bowl loss.
Oct. 9 vs. Air Force at Redskins Stadium, Noon, HTS
Air Force gave up just 13.3 points per game last season, but defense returns just five starters.
Oct. 23 Akron, Noon, no TV
Last season, Akron QB Butchie Washington was first Akron player to pass for more than 1,000 yards in 11 years.
Oct. 30 at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., WRC-4, WBAL-11
Irish QB Jarious Jackson returns from injury, but WRs, RBs lack experience.
Nov. 6 at Rutgers, Time, TV TBA
Rutgers rush defense ranked 110th in the nation at 246 yards per game last season.
Nov. 13 Tulane, Noon, no TV
Last year's 12-0 season is a distant memory, as Green Wave lost head coach, quarterback, eight defensive starters.
Nov. 20 at Hawaii, 11 p.m., no TV
Former NFL coach June Jones will try to enliven Hawaii program that begins with nation's longest losing streak.
Dec. 4 vs. Army at Veterans Staduim, Noon, WUSA-9, WJZ-13
Army led the nation in rushing last season.
COACH: Charlie Weatherbie, fifth season with Navy (24-21; 39-40 in seven seasons overall).
RADIO/TV: WMAL-630, WNAV-1430, WJFK-1300.
WEB SITE: www.navysports.com
GETTING TO THE GAMES: From Route 50, take exit for Rowe Boulevard south. Rowe leads to the stadium on the right.