What you need to know ...
Nine starters return to a defense wasn't all that horrible
even if it didn't stop anyone
cold. The secondary has to make
more plays against efficient passing games, but has the speed to
be better. The linebacking corps is full of playmaking tacklers
highlighted by 140-stop man Rob Caldwell and on the inside and
the even more talented Tyler Tidwell on the outside. The
defensive front three has no size, but defensive
coordinator Buddy Green always gets production out of his line.
Rob Caldwell, 140
Tyler Tidwell, 10
Interceptions: Keenan Little, Greg Thrasher, 2
Star of the defense: Senior LB Tyler Tidwell
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior NG
Unsung star on the rise: Senior LB Joe Cylc
Best pro prospect: Caldwell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Tidwell, 2) LB Rob
Caldwell, 3) LB David Mahoney
Strength of the defense: Experience, linebackers
Weakness of the defense:
Size, especially up front
The woefully undersized line will always have problems
with big, strong offensive lines, but this is an experienced front three
that should be able to get into the backfield and will use its quickness
to try to hold up against the run. The job is to not get pummeled and
hope for the linebacking corps to clean things up. Andrew Tattersall,
Tye Adams and
John Chan should be good pass rushers on the outside, while Larry Cylc,
David Wright and Ricky Moore have to form a solid
rotation on the nose.
The key to the unit: Get a good rotation going early to keep
everyone fresh against the run.
Defensive Line Rating: 5
- DE Tye Adams, Sr. - 13 tackles, 1 sack
Even though he's only 228 pounds, Adams will see a little time at tackle
as well as end. He's one of the faster players on the defensive front
seven. He'll combine with Andrew Tatersall on the left side and should grow
into a dangerous pass rusher.
- NG David Wright, Sr. - 2 tackles
Navy needs bulk on the line and has to hope for the 261-pound Wright to provide it. He doesn't have the experience of Larry Cylc,
but he came out of spring ball as the starter in the middle.
- DE John Chan, Sr. - 53 tackles, 6 sacks, 4.5 TFL
More of a big, strong outside linebacker than a defensive end, the 6-1,
246-pound Chan was a strong defender last year with a consistent season
highlighted by a ten tackle game against Air Force. He's quick enough to
get around most tackles and has to be accounted for on pure passing
downs, but he's not a dominant pass rusher. He takes advantage of his
chances to make big plays.
- NG Larry Cylc, Sr. - 28 tackles
The bigger brother of linebacker Joe Cylc, Larry bulked up to 280 pounds
and should be even better against the run. He's a strong defender on the nose and has good lateral quickness. Now
he has to get into the backfield and generate a little bit of pressure.
- DE Andrew Tattersall, Sr. - 15 tackles, 4 sacks
At 6-4 and 249 pounds, he has a long frame and reach along with
quickness on the edge. He spent last year as a reserve, but he still
made an impact highlighted by a three sack game against Rutgers. He'll
get the long look early this season on the left side.
Over 300 tackles of production returns among the starters
with Tyler Tidwell and David Mahoney the stars of the show. This is an active, experienced
group of defenders who'll wreak havoc all season long. Rob Caldwell is coming off a
phenomenal 140 tackle season, but Tidwell is the best player. On the down side, there's
little depth, but that's never been a problem for the Midshipmen over the
years. While this might be a tough corps, it gets pounded on by the
bigger offensive lines.
The key to the unit: Quickly developing a little bit
of depth to form some sort of a rotation and hope for the top playmakers
to stay healthy.
Linebacker Rating: 6.5
- David Mahoney, Jr. - 76 tackles, 8 sacks, 16 TFL, 1
interception, 4 broken up passes
At 5-9 and 216 pounds, he's not all that big, but he's a rock of a
defender with 209 career tackles, 14 sacks, and 30 tackles for loss. He
uses his speed on the outside to always be around the ball, and he's one
of the team's smartest and most dangerous pass rushers on the outside.
- Clint Sovie, Soph. - 6 tackles
One of the surprises of spring ball, the 196-pound sophomore showed off
his speed and range on the inside beating out Joe Cylc and Irv Spencer
for the starting job. He's not nearly as big as those two, but he can
- Rob Caldwell, Sr. - 140 tackles, 2 sacks, 7.5 TFL, 2 broken up
Caldwell was supposed to be a good defender once he took over the
full-time role, but he wasn't expected to be machine with a whopping 140
tackles including 21 against Air Force, 14 against Notre Dame and 14
against Colorado State. He had nine double-digit tackling games and
is a lock to have several more as the main man in the middle. He might
not be huge at 6-0 and 222 pounds, but he's lineman strong.
- Tyler Tidwell, Sr. - 67 tackles, 10 sacks, 19 TFL, 2 broken up
passes, 3 forced fumbles
With his speed and athleticism, Tidwell is an unstoppable pass rushing
force. He might be a safety-sized 6-2 and 216 pounds, but he's a rock
against the run and has impeccable timing when he's sent into the
backfield. His 12 tackles and three sacks against Colorado State earned
him Poinsettia Bowl Defensive MVP honors finishing the second half of
his season with nine sacks in the final seven games.
- Joe Cylc, Sr. - 28 tackles, 1 broken up pass
A strong backup last year, now it'll be up to the 229-pound senior to
push for time on the inside for Jake Biles, who made 109 stops last year.
Cylc is a strong player with good enough speed to make more of an impact
in the backfield.
- Keith Lisante, Jr. - 4 tackles
At 6-2 and 229 pounds, he has the size to go along with the talent to be
the team's best linebacker. He didn't do anything over the second half
of last year after seeing a little bit of action early, and now he'll
move from the inside to the outside playing behind David Mahoney.
- Matt Wimsatt, Jr. - 5 tackles
The 222-pound junior offers a bit more size on the outside than Tyler
Tidwell, but he's not the same athlete or playmaker. At least not yet.
He saw a little bit of time last year, and now he'll find more time in
the mix on both outside positions.
The secondary is one of the team's strengths with experience and talent, but it's not a huge group and it struggled over
the second half of last year allowing 11 touchdown passes over the final
four games. It had even more problems against accurate passers giving up
plenty of short to midrange plays. Even so, there's a lot to get excited
about with versatile players like Jeremy McGown, Ketric Buffin and
DuJuan Price forming a strong nucleus, and Keenan Little one of the
tougher corners around.
The key to the unit: Find the right combination early
on and hope for some of the inexperienced reserves to make a big impact.
Secondary Rating: 6
- CB Jeremy McGown, Sr. - 63 tackles, 4 broken up passes,
McGown has done a little bit of everything coming to Navy as a
quarterback, and 153 tackles later, will leave as a top defensive back.
He'll move around from corner to safety to take advantage of his
tackling ability and athleticism, but he'll start out at left corner. As
one of the team's fastest players, he's too useful against opposing
number one receivers. He's also a decent kick returner.
- Rover Ketric Buffin, Soph. - 19 tackles, 1 interception
Buffin will move around as needed in the secondary. He's only 5-7 and
158 pounds, but he'll try his hand at strong safety and could go to
corner if Jeremy McGown moves to safety. Buffin plays bigger than his
size and isn't afraid to provide some pop against the run.
- FS DuJuan Price. Sr. - 62 tackles, 1 interceptions, 3 broken up
Price had some big shoes to fill replacing star safety Josh Smith, and
he came through with a good junior season. Now he's expected to be a
star of the defense as one of the team's best all-around athletes. He's
not blazing fast, but he's very, very quick and with a leaping ability
to make him play even bigger.
- CB Keenan Little, Sr. - 73 tackles, 2 interceptions, 8 broken
Little is one of the team's most talented defenders and one of the best
tacklers in the secondary. The 5-11 and 194-pound senior can play corner
or safety with tremendous strength and decent speed. He saved his biggest game
for Army making ten stops.
- CB Greg Thrasher, Jr. - 43 tackles, 2
interceptions, 3 broken up passes
If he's not the team's fastest player, he's number two. Thrasher will
combine with Keenan Little at right corner and will get several starts.
He's only 5-8, but he's tough and uses his speed to make big plays. He
tackles well for his size.
- CB Rashawn King, Soph. - 8 tackles
One of the team's bigger corner options, King will see time in the
rotation on the left side and could see a few starts if Jeremy McGown
and Greg Thrasher see time elsewhere in the secondary. He got a start
last year against Air Force and made four stops.
- Rover Greg Sudderth, Jr. - 13 tackles
A big, strong, fast defender at 6-2 and 200 pounds, he'll find a spot
somewhere in the secondary when he returns to the team after suffering a
shoulder injury last year. He has the talent to take over a starting
role early on if he's 100%.
- FS Clay Carter, Sr. - 11 tackles
Carter will be the main backup behind DuJuan Price adding more size to
the mix. At 6-4 and 208 pounds, he'll provide more pop than Price.
The return game needs a bigger boost after averaging
20.3 yards on kickoff returns and 8.1 yards on punt returns. Reggie
Campbell will handle most of the kickoff returns, while speedy receiver
Jason Tomlinson will once against handle the punt returns. The coverage
units are impressive, especially on punts. Joey Bullen is a rock-solid
field goal kicker from inside the 40, while Greg Veteto should be fine
The key to the unit: Getting a bit more on the
returns, more blast on the punts, and more effectiveness from PK Joey
Bullen on deep kicks.
Special Teams Rating: 6.5
- PK Joey Bullen, Jr. - 9-12 FGs, 52-53 extra points
Field goal kicking went from a negative in 2004 to a positive in 2005
with Bullen taking over the job. He has a good leg and proved he can
come through in the clutch hitting a game-winning kick against Air
Force. However, that 46-yard boot to beat the Falcons was his only made
field goal from beyond 40 yards.
- P Greg Veteto, Jr.
It'll be up to the junior to take over for Eric Shuey, who
averaged a mediocre 38.4 yards per kick last year. However, Navy's punt
coverage unit is so good that it won't take much for Veteto to be