Navy Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Navy Midshipmen
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Navy Midshipmen Preview 2006 - Navy Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Don’t Mess with this Texan – If you’re from Texas, you better be tough as nails.  You better ‘represent’, as the youths say on the street.  Well, Adam Ballard, a junior from Lewisville, does that and then some.  After taking over for the injured Matt Hall at fullback, Ballard ran all over Temple, Army and Colorado State, piling up nearly 500 yards in those three games.  To most of the casual college football fans, the fullback doesn’t have nearly the impact that the fullback does in Paul Johnson’s ‘spread’ option attack.  In fact, the 6’1”, 240 pound bruiser is perhaps the most important ‘cog’ on this entire offensive machine.  Add in the fact that Ballard has surprising speed, he’s that much more important to this offense.  Although he doesn’t have to make the triple option reads like the quarterback does, Ballard’s ability to hit the line of scrimmage full speed, ‘reading’ how and where to find an open running lane, is paramount to the option game’s success.  As such, stopping the fullback is so much more important in this offense, so teams have to find a way to stop Ballard, early.  Take away the inside dive, make it a perimeter game and take your chances putting the pressure on the QB to carry or pitch.  But, even if opposing defenses stop Ballard early, he’ll still get the ball, as he can unleash a pounding for four quarters with 25 carries or so.  If Hall can make it back healthy, the two can form a solid 1-2 combination at fullback, but it’s Ballard that’ll make this offense fly.

2nd and Seven – Tackles ‘R Us – Most of the accolades and hype surrounding the Midshipmen pertain to the offense that has been so productive.  However, this year, the defense has a few things to brag about also, mainly two of its star linebackers – Rob Caldwell and David Mahoney.  Caldwell finished the year 10th in the nation in tackles with a whopping 140 tackles.  Shoot, in the first four games of the year, he had 62 tackles.  Mahoney doesn’t have the quantity of tackles, but the quality is just fine – 16 tackles for a loss and 8 sacks.  The inside-outside dynamic of these two provide not only playmaking abilities, but leadership for this defense.  They’ll need some help from the defensive front to roam to the football free and clear.  But, you know what will happen when they do.

3rd and Three – Mighty Mouse – So, if Reggie Campbell went to Busch Gardens would he be allowed on the adult rides?  Well, the size of this man’s body pales in comparison to his explosiveness and game breaking abilities.  Doubt that?  Just ask Colorado State what they think of him.  If you still doubt him, let’s just say that there are only two men in the history of the Holiday Bowl who scored five touchdowns in that one game – Campbell and some guy named Barry Sanders.  Know him?  Campbell is such a dynamo – a slot pitch option back and a great receiver out of the backfield.  In the aforementioned Holiday Bowl, he put on a show that, arguably, was only matched by Vince Young in the Rose Bowl.  He can’t and won’t match his Holiday Bowl performance every single week, but he may not have to – he already has people’s attention.  Well, his opponents’ attention, anyway.

4th and One – One goes out, another comes in – First it was Craig Candeto.  Then, Aaron Polanco.  Next came Lamar Owens.  One QB leaves and another seamlessly steps into his place.  If you watched the Navy QBs work on their option reads and footwork throughout a Paul Johnson practice, it wouldn’t surprise you why.  So, can Brian Hampton take the keys and drive the sub as the three QBs have that came before him?  If the Midshipmen have bowl dreams again this year, he’d better.  He has a stronger arm than any of the other three, and that could differentiate this offense in 2006.  If he can do that, he’ll leave a larger void than any of the aforementioned Navy QBs when he graduates next spring.

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