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Navy Preview 2006
Navy Midshipmen
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Navy has been a cute story over the last four years under head coach Paul Johnson winning two straight bowl games, owning Army, and creating a juggernaut of a running game. Now, after winning 26 games over the last three years, everything should come together in what could be among the best Navy teams since the 1963 squad that went to the Cotton Bowl.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

18 starters return including four on an offensive line that should be strong, three in a hard-nosed linebacking corps, four in the secondary, and three in a backfield that should form a breathtaking combination of speed and power. There are a few concerns like replacing quarterback Lamar Owens and getting more production from the defense, but experience and good coaching should overcome most of the problems.

So just how good is this team? Few if any of the returning starters would find a spot in the mix on most top 25 to 50 teams, the lines are woefully undersized, as expected considering the recruiting restrictions, and then there's the biggest question; has this team actually beaten anyone under Johnson's reign?

Head coach: Paul Johnson
5th year at Navy: 28-21
10th year overall: 90-31
Returning Lettermen: 38
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Navy Players
1. LB Tyler Tidwell, Sr.
2. FB Adam Ballard, Jr.
3. LB Rob Caldwell, Sr.
4. OG Antron Harper, Jr.
5. LB David Mahoney, Jr.
FS DuJuan Price, Sr.
7. OG Zach Gallion, Sr.
8. WR/KR Jason Tomlinson, Sr.
CB Keenan Little, Sr.
CB Jeremy McGown, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: coming

9/2 East Carolina
9/9 Massachusetts
9/16 at Stanford
9/23 Tulsa
9/30 at Connecticut
10/7 at Air Force
10/14 Rutgers
10/28 Notre Dame
11/4 at Duke
11/11 at Eastern Michigan
11/18 Temple
12/2 vs. Army

 2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 8-4

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Maryland L 23-20
9/10 Stanford L 41-38
10/1 at Duke W 28-21
10/8 Air Force W 27-24
10/15 Kent State W 34-31
10/22 at Rice W 41-9
10/29 at Rutgers L 31-21
11/5 Tulane W 49-21
11/12 at Notre Dame L 42-21
11/19 Temple W 38-17
12/3 Army W 42-23
12/22 Poinsettia Bowl
Colorado St W 51-30

Wins are wins are wins, and there certainly can't be any complaints considering the program won a total of three games, with two coming against Army, from 2000 to 2002, but the best win under Johnson has been against New Mexico in the 2004 Emerald Bowl. Of the 28 wins over the last four years, only that win over the Lobos came against a team that finished with a winning record. You can only beat who's on your schedule, and Navy hasn't doe too much to show what it can do against the better teams only winning two of its last 11 games against teams that finished with winning records.

For example, last year, Navy lost to four of the decent teams it faced (Maryland, Stanford, Rutgers and Notre Dame), so it's hard to expect everyone to jump up and down over Navy as a growing national power. With that said, there will be chances this year to turn the corner with interesting games against Tulsa, Connecticut, Rutgers and Notre Dame, and the possibility exists for a ten-win season. This team is good enough to expect big things from, and Johnson has shown that he can outcoach anyone. Get ready for a fun season.

The Schedule: Compared to most teams going to bowls this year, it's a flat-out joke with only three games against teams that went to bowl games last year and only one game against a team, Notre Dame, that can dare to dream of the BCS. A team as experienced as Navy is has to beat East Carolina, UMass, at Duke, at Eastern Michigan, Temple and Army without blinking, and is good enough to win at least two of the five games against at Stanford, Tulsa, at Connecticut, at Air Force and Rutgers. Notre Dame is the big game coming late in October, and Navy gets two weeks off to prepare for the showdown.

Best Offensive Player: Junior FB Adam Ballard. Was he really that good or was he just able to be really, really good against three run defenses (Temple, Army and Colorado State) that would get blown over by a light breeze? Navy fans are hoping he's the second coming of former Midshipmen star Kyle Eckel, but it would be good enough if he provides a steady punch up the gut to open things up on the outside.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Tyler Tidwell. Rob Caldwell came up with a whopping 140 tackles last year finishing second in the nation in tackles per game, but Tidwell is the best player on the defense with speed on the outside and tremendous pass rushing skills.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Brian Hampton. Nine starters return on a defense that wasn't horrible last year, and eight starters return to the tremendous rushing offense. All the big dreams and all the hopes for a huge season will quickly go down the drain if Hampton can't be an effective ringleader.

The season will be a success if ... Navy wins ten games. The Notre Dame game is the only one the Midshipmen can't win, so there's no reason not to think ten wins can't be attainable if everything breaks right. The bar is set higher for this year than it has been in over forty years.

Key game: Oct. 14 vs. Rutgers. Of course the Notre Dame game is big, but the date with the Scarlet Knights coming up the game before, and right after a two-game road stretch against UConn and Air Force, is important for the team's confidence. Beating Rutgers would show that Navy might be for real.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Rushing touchdowns: Navy 45 - Opponents 19
- Punt return average: Navy 8.9 yards per return - Opponents 4.9 yards per return
- Third down conversion percentage: Navy 70 of 157 (45%) - Opponents 76 of 170 (45%)

The Last Time Navy …
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Poinsettia Bowl v. Colorado State)
…missed a bowl game…2002
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Tulsa)
…was shutout…2002 (UConn)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Colorado State)
…went undefeated…1926
…won a conference title…Never
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Kyle Eckel)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…Never
…had a first-round draft choice…Never

Related Stories
Navy Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Navy Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Navy Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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