Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know: Navy
led the nation in rushing in 2005, led the nation in rushing in
2006, and will lead the nation in rushing in 2007. What's the
difference? The ground game will be terrific as always, but now
it'll be truly special with the best combination of backfield
talent and experience head coach Paul Johnson has ever had.
There won't be any passing game, but it won't matter with a
ground attack that can crank out a big run from anywhere on the
field. The big concern will be the line with no experience among
the backups whatsoever and a shaky starting five if left tackle
Josh Meek's injured knee isn't healthy.
Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada
23-48, 384 yds, 5 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Adam Ballard
154 carries, 792 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Reggie Campbell
13 catches, 244 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior FB Adam Ballard
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OG
Ben Gabbard and junior OG Anthony Gaskins
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Tyree Barnes
Best pro prospect: Ballard
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Ballard, 2) OG Antron
Harper, 3) QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada
Strength of the offense: Running backs, quarterbacks
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth, receivers
Projected Starter: Brain Hampton went down midway though
the season, Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada picked up the slack
and carried the team the rest of the way going 4-2 as a starter
without missing a beat. The junior isn't quite the runner than
Hampton was, but he's a better overall athlete and speedy enough
to break off long runs at any time. He finished with 507 rushing
yards and ten touchdowns while completing 48% of his passes for
384 yards and five scores with only one interception. If he
happens to get knocked out of the starting role, he could end up
seeing time at receiver.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Jarod Bryant
will likely step into the number two role and be used more in
passing situations. With the most accurate arm on the team, he's
a good backup option who'll be given every chance this fall to
win the starting job. How good an athlete is he? He could've
been a defensive back at Auburn.
Unlike most Navy quarterbacks, the 6-2, 206-pound Troy Goss
is a big passer, but that doesn't mean he doesn't run the
ball. Likely to move back to receiver, where he played in eight
games last year without catching a pass, the senior has the
speed to go along with more power than Kaheaku-Enhada.
Watch Out For ... Kaheaku-Enhada to run for 20
touchdowns ... if he's the starter. Now that he knows what he's
doing and has a half a year of starting experience, he'll run
the attack even more efficiently. Bryant might be almost as good
a runner as
Kaheaku-Enhada, but with a better
Strength: Quickness. As always, the Navy quarterbacks can all
run with enough speed to be moved to receiver or even running
back if needed.
Weakness: Passing. As always, the Navy quarterbacks couldn't hit
water if they were drowning. Forget about mounting any sort of a
consistent passing attack with this group, but as long as
Kaheaku-Enhada can throw efficiently
and come up with the one big pass here and there when the
opportunity presents itself, the offense will work.
Outlook: Navy continues to be a factory for small,
quick, talented quarterbacks.
Kaheaku-Enhada is such a good
athlete that he might take the position to another level with
his speed and talents. Bryant is an excellent backup who'll see
time throughout the year, if he doesn't take over the starting
job. Goss will likely end up playing
receiver early on. The rating is based on what Navy's quarterbacks do in
Projected Starters: While senior Reggie Campbell is
only 5-6 and 165 pounds, when he's on, he's one of the
most electrifying backs in America. Ridiculously strong and a
sprinter on the Navy track team, Campbell has rushed for 1,268
career yards and 12 touchdowns averaging 7.5 yards per crack.
While he'll disappear from the offense at times and hardly ever
gets double digit carries, he's an extraordinary home run hitter
who can do nothing all game long before blowing up for a long
score. He's also a great receiver finishing second on the team
with 13 catches for 244 yards and two scores.
While Campbell is
the speed, 6-1, 236-pound senior Adam Ballard is the
power. The tough-as-nails inside runner finished as the team's
leading rusher with 792 yards and three touchdowns despite
missing the bowl game with a broken leg suffered against Army.
He has the speed to tear off big runs when he gets in the clear
(he took off for 81 yards against Connecticut), and he always
gets the tough yards when needed averaging 5.57 yards per carry.
Returning to his spot as the one of the team's starting slot
backs is senior Zebin Singleton, who's only 5-8 and 164
pounds, but it one of the team's toughest blockers and great at
springing big runs from other players. With tremendous speed,
he's great at getting down the field to make short runs longer.
While he only ran for 191 yards and a touchdown, he average 6.8
yards per carry highlighted by a 71-yard day against Boston
Projected Top Reserves: Playing behind Singleton
will be junior Shun White, who has even better wheels and
at 5-9 186 pounds is about 20 pounds heavier. He'll share time
with Campbell and is unleashed once in a while when the offense
is looking for a home run. He only ran the ball 48 times, but he
tore off 12 yards a crack with five touchdowns highlighted by a
116-yard day against Boston College.
Backing up Campbell will
be junior Greg Shinego, who'll mostly be a special teamer
with White getting most of the backup work.
With Ballard coming
back form a broken leg, 233-pound junior Eric Kettani
might see more playing time. While not the runner Ballard is,
he's a good blocker who's good at powering the ball for four
yards a crack rushing for 229 yards and a touchdown last season.
Watch Out For ... this to be the best backfield
yet in the Paul Johnson era. Ballard, Campbell, White and
Singleton bring a blend of experience power, speed, and
jaw-dropping running ability that should make the attack hum
like never before.
Strength: Speed. Forgetting how fast the slot backs are, Ballard
can move when he gets into the open. Just ask Boston College how
fast the running game is (even without Ballard).
Weakness: Backup fullback. Last year the offense could rely on
Matt Hall to step in and carry the load. Kettani is unproven and
isn't near the talent Ballard is.
Outlook: If you liked the nation's number one
rushing attack before, you're going to love the production from
this year's group of backs. Campbell, Ballard and White seem
like they've been around forever, and now they'll use all their
experience to crank out big play after big play. Getting the
backups more work will be vital to hit the ground running next
Projected Starters: Trying to replace leading receiver
Jason Tomlinson as the number one target will be senior O.J.
Washington, who only has four career catches for 58 yards
and a touchdown, but has been around long enough to know what
he's doing. A great downfield blocker with excellent speed, his
role will be to make the one big catch a game when the defense
is caught cheating up against the run.
On the other side will be
junior Tyree Barnes, a big 6-2, 188-pound target who's
finally healthy after having problems with a knee injury all
last season. He finished third on the team with six catches for
105 yards and two touchdowns highlighted by a 31-yard scoring
grab against Boston College.
Projected Top Reserves: Navy doesn't use a tight
end, but 6-4, 239-pound junior Curtis Sharp might as well
be one. He's not going to catch many passes, and if he does
they'll be the short range variety, but he'll be a good blocker
6-2, 207-pound senior Greg Sudderth is a
former defensive back with way too much speed and athleticism
not to have the ball in his hands. He'll back up Washington.
Watch Out For ... the receiving corps to do what
it always does. Losing Tomlinson should hurt, but he only caught
16 passes. Washington should fill the void just fine.
Strength: Blocking. If you're a Navy receiver, you can hit
someone. More than anything else, the receivers have to spring
the backs on downfield blocks making short runs long ones. This
crew can do that.
Weakness: Catching the football. The offense only threw the ball
51 times last year. The receivers aren't going to get much work
because of the nature of the offense, but also because they're
not star D-I receivers by any stretch.
Outlook: As always, the effectiveness of the Navy
receiving corps isn't in the number of catches, it's in the
timely nature they come. As long as Washington and Barnes can
make one big play a game, that's all that matters.
Projected Starters: Just two starters return to the
offensive line, but there's still plenty of experience to work with. The
one sure-thing at a former spot will be 255-pound junior Andrew
McGinn returning to right tackle. While he's light, he's almost ten
pounds heavier than last year after he took over the starting job
halfway through the season.
He's not going to knock anyone on their can,
but he's great on the move. 272-pound senior Antron Harper is the
other returning starter and the team's best blocker by far. He started
every game at right guard, got bigger, and now will move to center
taking over for James Rossi. He's one of the team's strongest players
and is a fantastic technician.
The other tackle spot will be handled by
274-pound senior Josh Meek, who started was the starter over the
first past of the year before tearing his ACL and missing the final five
games. Fortunately, the injury happened just early enough so he should
be ready by fall.
The guard spots will be the concern early on. 281-pound junior
Anthony Gaskins was a reserve in every game last season and now will
take over for Zach Gallion at left guard. 6-4, 297-pound senior Ben
Gabbard is one of the team's biggest linemen, and now he has big
shoes to fill replacing Harper at right guard. A veteran backup with 25
games of experience, he should be fine in time, even if there's a
drop-off in production from Harper.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Paul Bridgers
is an athletic 271 pounds, but he hasn't been able to see much of
the field playing in just three games. Now he'll have to be a key
reserve behind Meek on the left side. He represents the entirety of the
experience among the reserves.
6-4, 271-pound junior Chad Peterson
will play behind Gaskins at left guard, while 275-pound sophomore
Curtis Bass will be groomed for the future at right guard. 6-5,
272-pound junior Mike Von Bargen is a bigger option than McGinn
at right tackle.
Watch Out For ... the line to do what it always
does at Navy, but it might take a while before it's as productive as
last year's starting five. There's way too much turnover to be
razor-sharp right away.
Strength: Harper. With all the question marks on the line,
having a talented veteran like Harper quarterbacking the front at center
will ease through the transition.
Weakness: Depth. There isn't any. The starters are a question
mark and need seasoning, so forget about there being any reliability
among the backups.
Outlook: The Navy offensive line is about timing
and precision, and it's going to be a little while before it turns into
a killer. It doesn't have to knock lines all over the place; it has to
just get in the way of defenders long enough for the runners to slip on
by. This group should be able to do that. Harper, Meek and McGinn are
good veterans to revolve around, but there will be problems if Meek's
knee isn't quite right.