2011 Navy Preview
Navy QB Kriss Proctor
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Navy Midshipmen
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- Army vs. Navy Lookahead
What's going to qualify as a step forward for Navy at this point?
Head coach: Ken Niumatalolo
4th year: 27-14
Off. 20, Def. 16, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 26
Ten Best Navy Players
1. DE Jabaree Tuani, Sr.
2. FB Alexander Teich, Sr.
3. QB Kriss Proctor, Sr.
4. SB Gee Gee Greene, Jr.
5. CB Kwesi Mitchell, Sr.
6. C Brady DeMell, Sr.
7. LB Matt Warrick, Jr.
8. S Tra'ves Bush, Jr.
9. SB Aaron Santiago, Sr.
10. OG John Dowd, Sr.
Sep. 3 Delaware
Sep. 10 at WKU
Sep. 17 at South Carolina
Sep. 24 OPEN DATE
Oct. 1 Air Force
Oct. 8 Southern Miss
Oct. 15 at Rutgers
Oct. 22 East Carolina
Oct. 29 at Notre Dame
Nov. 5 Troy
Nov. 12 at SMU
Nov. 19 at San Jose State
Nov. 26 OPEN DATE
Dec. 3 OPEN DATE
Dec. 10 Army (in Landover)
Since the amazing turnaround in 2003, the program has been a regular in the minor bowl circuit, beating Army has become as much of part of December as Christmas, and beating Notre Dame doesn't even seem out of the ordinary anymore.
Is simply maintaining the status quo going to be enough? How can the Midshipmen start to improve and grow after coming up with 70 victories in eight seasons?
The fact of the matter is that there's a hard ceiling on what Navy can do and what the football program can become. It continues to get overlooked that the success is coming with a slew of players who bust their tails, but probably couldn't get scholarship offers from other FBS schools. Of course there are several very good Midshipman football players who could start for some big-time programs, but because of the recruiting limitations and because of the extremely narrow base of players the coaches can go after, the talented depth doesn't exist and there's little margin for error. If you come to Navy, you become a cog in a very successful system that has worked wonders for the nation's military, and for the football program.
The problem is that Army is getting better. Soon the long winning streak will come to an end – it's going into its tenth season – and then seasons will be judged on a whole new curve. All the recent success has been fun, and getting by Notre Dame three of the last four years has been amazing, but what's next? An invite into a league? More ten-win seasons? Bigger wins in more dominant fashion? It's always common to want to keep improving and to want to keep changing to get better, but it's also alright to admit that yes, beating Army, getting to a bowl game, and being among the nation's leaders in rushing year after year after year is still pretty good.
So on Navy will go, running wild like it always does, bothering good teams who still, inexplicably, take the matchup lightly, and cranking out fun game after fun game. The running attack set a record by leading the nation for four years in a row before falling off a bit over the last two seasons, but not much. There will be more of a focus on the ground game than ever before with Kriss Proctor now the full-time quarterback, and while he showed this offseason that he could throw a little bit, his job is to serve as an option wizard.
The line gets almost all the key pieces back, the running backs have speed on the outside and fullback Alexander Teich to do everything else, and Proctor is a veteran playmaker who knows how to run the attack with frightening precision.
The defense couldn't get into the backfield last season and it doesn't hit the quarterback, but all it has to do is not get flattened. The offense will take care of the time of possession and the tempo of the game, and while the D won't be a brick wall, it just needs to come up a few more big plays and has to step up on third downs.
No, this isn't going to be the best Navy team in the recent run of success, but it'll be good enough to come up with all the big wins needed to get back to a bowl and keep the fun rolling. Can the Midshipmen be good enough to beat Notre Dame again? Is there any chance for an upset at South Carolina? How will the team handle just one home game over the final five games, and all the while knowing that a winning record will mean nothing more than a date in the Military Bowl in D.C.?
The team will handle everything like it always does. With military precision, and in the end, it'll be another terrific year in what might have to be considered, because of the longevity, the greatest era in the history of Navy football.
What to watch for on offense: An even better running game. It's asking a lot to get better after averaging 285 yards per game and cranking out 37 touchdowns, and it'll be tough to do more after losing longtime starting quarterback and leader Ricky Dobbs, who led the team with 967 yards and 14 scores. Dobbs could throw, though, connecting on 55% of his throws for 1,527 yards and 13 touchdowns with six picks. Proctor isn't going to throw like Dobbs, but he's a good runner, he had a strong offseason, and the torch has been passed; it's his offense now. Teich is a bruiser of a fullback who can handle the workload inside, while Gee Gee Greene and Aaron Santiago will crank out yards in chunks on the outside. The receivers might go unnoticed for games at a time, but if the ground attack is working, that's okay.
What to watch for on defense: A massive turnover. After finishing 75th in the nation in total defense, it'll take a few surprises from some new players to hope for any improvement. Eight starters are back on offense, and the attack should be able to rock even with the huge replacement at quarterback. The defense is another story with just three starters back from a disappointing group that didn't do nearly enough on a consistent basis. Jabaree Tuani is a terrific end to work around, but the linebacking corps has to undergo a major overhaul on the outside and is counting on several untested prospects to play roles in the rotation. The secondary also has to hope for some key new players to shine right away, especially at safety with Wyatt Middleton and Kevin Edwards gone.
The team will be far better if … the run defense works. Navy needs to start getting into the backfield on a regular basis and has to start coming up with more big plays, but more than anything else the defense simply has to be decent against the run. In the four losses last season against Maryland (261 yards and two touchdowns), Air Force (292 and two), Duke (142 and three), and San Diego State (279 and three), Navy got hit for ten of the 16 rushing scores it gave up on the year and allowed three of the four biggest rushing totals. Navy was 1-4 when allowing two scores or more, and was 8-0 when allowing one touchdown or fewer. In 2009, Navy was 1-3 when allowing two touchdown runs, and was 9-1 when giving up fewer than two.
The schedule: It's easy early, it's easy late, and tough at times in between. Getting off to a hot start is a must against Delaware and Western Kentucky before going to South Carolina and getting Air Force and Southern Miss at home. Games at Rutgers and Notre Dame will be tough, and then things get interesting. The slate eases up, but the final home game is against Troy on November 5th. The last three games, and four or the last five dates, are on the road, including the Army game after a 21 day layoff. In all, Navy gets just five home games.
Best offensive player: Senior FB Alexander Teich. Just call him the tone-setter. At 6-0 and 217 pounds he's not all that big, but he's physical when he has to be and fast when he gets through the hole. It took the first part of last year to step into the starting role, and then he took off with a 210-yard day against Notre Dame, a 157-yard day against East Carolina, and with ten carries or more in eight of the last nine games. Navy went 7-1 when he ran for 43 yards or more, but he has to show he can get into the end zone more after scoring just five touchdown runs in three games.
Best defensive player: Senior DE Jabaree Tuani. If he's not one of the best all-around defensive linemen in Navy history, he's close. Ultra-consistent, he's strong against the run and has a good burst and first step when asked to get to the quarterback. He finished the year with just 5.5 sacks, but he required everyone's full attention and was great when he got a little room to move. Now he has to get into the backfield on a regular basis while acting like a smallish, 6-1, 265-pound defender against the stronger running teams. Wanted by several big-name schools, he could've played a prominent role on a far bigger stage. Instead he's the star of the Midshipmen defensive front.
Key player to a successful season: Junior FS Jordan Fraser. Wyatt Middleton at the Rover will be the biggest loss in the secondary, but junior Tra'ves Bush knows what he's doing and should be a more-than-solid fill in. The other problem is at free safety where De'Von Richardson is gone after making 51 tackles. Fraser has excellent 6-2, 191-pound size and got a start, but he doesn't have a ton of experience. The upside is there to be terrific, but if the defensive front struggles to get into the backfield again, he has to be a playmaker when the ball is in the air.
The season will be a success if … Navy wins nine games or more for a third straight season. There's a lot of work to be done on defense, and Proctor has to prove he can handle the full-time quarterback job, but the Midshipmen should be good enough to beat Delaware, Western Kentucky, Troy, and San Jose State to form a nice base of wins. As always, coming up with a win over Army is a must, and it would be nice to at least get two wins at home over Air Force, Southern Miss, and East Carolina. Beating Notre Dame, South Carolina, and Rutgers on the road will be tough, but if Navy can pull out a win in one of those three games, and can win a bowl game, a nine-win season is possible.
Key game: Besides the December 10th date against Army, Oct. 1 vs. Air Force. Navy won seven in a row in the series before Air Force came up with a 14-6 thriller last season. The 2011 Falcons should be the stronger than they've been in years, and this should be Troy Calhoun's best team yet. However, Navy has to come up with a win at home after dealing with South Carolina two weeks before. A loss would likely mean a 2-2 start putting the pressure on before facing Southern Miss.
2010 Fun Stats:
- 3rd Quarter Scoring: Navy 107 – Opponents 31
- Penalties: Opponents 69 for 604 yards – Navy 44 for 359 yards
- Time of Possession: Nay 31:24 – Opponents 28:36
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