2007 Navy Midshipmen

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Navy Midshipmen Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Navy Midshipmen

Recap: In what would turn out to be his final season in Annapolis, head coach Paul Johnson delivered what he always has for the Middies, a victory over Army, a Commander-in-Chief's trophy, and a December bowl game.  As an added bonus in 2007, Navy finally stopped the bleeding against Notre Dame, beating the Irish for the first time in 44 tries.  The Midshipmen needed every yard from its top-ranked triple-option ground game in order to offset a broken defense that yielded more than 40 points in seven of 13 games.           

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Irv Spencer

Biggest Surprise: No matter how feeble Notre Dame was last season, you still pinched yourself after Navy walked out of South Bend with a thrilling triple-overtime victory on Nov. 3.  Not since 1963 had the Middies gotten the best of the Irish, the longest streak of futility in the nation.      

Biggest Disappointment: Did the Midshipmen get caught looking ahead to their much-anticipated showdown with the Irish?  You bet.  On Oct. 27, the same Navy squad that had beaten Pittsburgh and Air Force earlier in the year lost 59-52 to Delaware of the FCS, making Blue Hen QB Joe Flacco look as if he belonged in the Heisman race.   

Looking Ahead: Naturally, Johnson will be missed at the academy, but don't expect wholesale changes from Ken Niumatalolo, a long-time assistant at the school, who ensures a pretty smooth transition.  The triple-option will stay, as will Kaheaku-Enhada and FB Eric Kettani, two of the key components of last year's prolific running attack.          

- 2007 Navy Preview
2006 Navy Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 8-

Aug. 31 at Temple W 30-19
Sept. 7 at Rutgers L 41-24
Sept. 15
Ball State L 34-31 OT
Sept. 22 Duke W 4
Sept. 29 Air Force W 31-20
Oct. 10 at Pitt W 48-45 2OT
Oct. 20 Wake Forest L 44-24
Oct. 27
Delaware L 59-42
Nov. 3 at N. Dame W 46-44 3OT
Nov. 10
at North Texas W 74-62
Nov. 17 Northern Illinois W 35-24
Dec. 1 Army W 38-3
Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 20 Utah L 35-32

Dec. 1
Navy 38 ... Army 3
Navy dominated throughout with Reggie Campbell running for a 12-yard score and answering Army's only score, a 28-yard Owen Tolson second quarter field goal, with a 98-yard return for a touchdown. Zerbin Singleton started off the scoring with a 38-yard run late in the first quarter, and Shun White and Jarod Bryant each ran for one-yard scores. Army only converted one of 12 third down chances and had the ball for a mere 4:06 in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Navy RB Reggie Campbell ran five times for 47 yards and a touchdown, caught a pass for nine yards, returned three punts for 73 yards, and returned a kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing:
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 2-5, 7 yds
Rushing: Adam Ballard, 13-56. Receiving: Reggie Campbell, 1-9
Army - Passing: Carson Williams, 12-21, 117 yds
Tony Dace, 28-104. Receiving: Corey Anderson, 3-32

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Ho hum, another year, another win over Navy. The offense was fine, but it wasn't up to the normal Navy crisp standards. However, the defense came up with its best game of the year, especially through the air. The secondary shut down Jeremy Trimble and made Carson Williams misfire again and again on key plays, and most importantly, it got off the field in a hurry. On a four-game winning streak to close out the year with wins over Notre Dame and Army, and another trip to a bowl game, this is yet another great season for Paul Johnson and his program.

Nov. 17
Navy 35 ... Northern Illinois 24
Navy ran for 359 yards with Zerbin Singleton scoring from one and 26 yards out in the first quarter and from 12 yards away in the fourth to seal the win. In place of an injured
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Jarod Bryant ran for 139 yards with a one-yard score. Northern Illinois was able to stay in the game with two Ryan Morris touchdown passes to Matt Simon coming from 46 and 24 yards out, but the offense failed to score late with a missed field goal and with Navy able to run out the clock. Alex Kube made 15 tackles for the Huskies, while Ross Pospisil came up with 20 stops for the Midshipmen.
Player of the game: Navy QB Jarod Bryant completed 3 of 6 passes for 60 yards and ran 27 times for 139 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Northern Illinois - Passing: Ryan Morris, 21-35, 206 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Justin Anderson, 39-140, 1 TD. Receiving: Matt Simon, 5-100, 2 TD
Navy - Passing: Jarod Bryant, 3-6, 60 yds
Jarod Bryant, 27-139, 1 TD. Receiving: Zerbin Singleton, 1-37

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The
offense wasn't quite as smooth without Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada running it, but it did enough to beat Northern Illinois for the third win in a row. The defense that's been picked clean by every passing game with a pulse was decent, and came through when it absolutely had to when the Huskies were rallying. Now everyone gets two weeks off to rest up for Army, and in the meantime work on stopping the suddenly solid Black Knight passing game.

Nov. 10
Navy 74 ... North Texas 62
In one of the wildest games in college football history, the two teams set a D-I record with 136 points with 1,315 yards of total offense. North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza threw eight touchdown passes including five to Casey Fitzgerald from nine, nine, 24, 29 and 17 yards out and a 75-yarder to Sam Dibrell, but Navy was able to roll up 572 yards of rushing offense to keep up. Down 49-31, Navy scored 27 straight points to take control of the game helped by a 21-yard Reggie Campbell touchdown run and a 66-yard Zerbin Singleton dash, but it wasn't until Reggie Campbell took a kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown did the Midshipmen finally take control. Navy averaged ten yards per carry.
Player of the game: In a losing cause, North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza completed 40 of 50 passes for 478 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran 13 times for 93 yards.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 4-5, 108 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Shun White, 8-131, 1 TD. Receiving: Tyree Barns, 3-61, 1 TD
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 40-50, 478 yds, 8 TD, 2 INT
Giovanni Vizza, 13-93. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 13-134, 5 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Navy pass defense might be struggling, but yeesh. North Texas was able to bomb away at will on the beleaguered Navy secondary, but a win is a win, and now the team is going to the Poinsettia Bowl after finishing up the year with Northern Illinois and Army. The running game never controlled the game, but it was able to match the Mean Green with several home runs, and finally settled things down a bit late. Seven different Midshipmen ran for 50 yards or more.

Nov. 3
Navy 46 ... Notre Dame 44 3OT
In the third overtime, Notre Dame's Travis Thomas ran for a five-yard score, but after a pass interference call on the two-point conversion, the Irish's second attempt, a Thomas run, was stuffed, and Navy broke the 43-game losing streak to the men from South Bend. The Irish had an apparent shot to win it in the final minute of regulation, but chose to go for it on fourth and eight on the 24 rather than try the field goal, but Navy came up with a sack. Eric Kettani ran for two scores, including a one-yarder in the first overtime, Joey Bullen nailed a 32-yard field goal in the second, and Reggie Campbell caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the third, along with a two-point conversion catch. Thomas and James Aldridge carried the Irish running game for  235 yards, with Thomas running for three short scores, while Evan Sharpley and Duval Kamara hooked up for two touchdowns in the see-saw game.

Player of the game: Navy S Wyatt Middleton made 14 tackles with a tackle for loss.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing:
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 6-5, 81 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Eric Kettani, 20-70, 2 TD. Receiving: O.J. Washington, 2-19
Notre Dame - Passing: Evan Sharpley, 17-27, 140 yds, 2 TD
James Aldridge, 32-125. Receiving: Duval Kamara, 5-44, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It wasn't a perfect Navy game, the running game was merely average, but beating Notre Dame is as close to perfection as it gets no matter how it happened. The defense came up with a scrappy performance, keeping the Notre Dame passing game from coming up with too many big plays a week after Delaware went crazy for 434 yards. Now the key will be to not let down. Navy can beat Notre Dame, but it could also clunk and lose to North Texas next week. If all goes according to plan, the Midshipmen blow through the weak final three games, at North Texas, Northern Illinois, and Army, and go 8-4.

Oct. 27
Delaware 59 ... Navy 52
The two teams combined for 1,087 yards of total offense with Navy running for 342 and Delaware throwing for 434. The two teams traded huge shots all game long with Joe Flaco throwing four touchdown passes for Delaware and Omar Cuff running for four scores. His 37-yard dash with 2:02 remaining put the Blue Hens up 59-49. Navy was able to come up with a 29-yard field goal with 29 seconds remaining, but failed toe get the onside kick. Navy ran for seven scores with Adam Ballard tearing off a 55-yard dash and Eric Kettani and
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada each scoring twice.
Player of the game: Delaware QB Joe Flaco completed 30 of 41 passes for 434 yards and four touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Jarod Bryant, 8-11, 126 yds
Rushing: Adam Ballard, 9-94, 1 TD. Receiving: Zerbin Singleton, 2-61
Delaware - Passing: Joe Flaco, 30-41, 434 yds, 4 TD
Omar Cuff, 28-141, 4 TD. Receiving: Kervin Michaud, 8-96, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... This wasn't exactly how the team wanted to go into its big week against Notre Dame. The Navy secondary has been awful all season long, and this week it took things to another level of bad with Delaware being able to do whatever it wanted to. The problem now might be at quarterback, where Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was yanked for Jarod Bryant when the offense needed to start moving the ball quicker. The running game isn't controlling the clock like it needs to, and the defense isn't able to pick up the slack.

Oct. 20
Wake Forest 44 ... Navy 24
Kenneth Moore
caught 15 passes with a 13-yard touchdown catch to start the scoring, and a 22-yard touchdown to end the scoring. Along the way, the Demon Deacons took advantage of three Navy turnovers with a fumble recovery for a score as part of a 30-7 run. Navy ran for 328 yards, and got two Shun White touchdown runs and a one-yard score from Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Player of the game: Wake Forest WR Kenneth Moore caught 15 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and ran once for five yards.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Jarod Bryant, 4-9, 39 yds
Rushing: Eric Kettani, 14-75. Receiving: Greg Sudderth, 2-18
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 22-28, 213 yds, 2 TD
Josh Adams, 27-131, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 15-181, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The running game got its yards against Wake Forest, but it didn't control the clock or the game like it needed to when the defense started struggling. No pass rush whatsoever continues to get its secondary killed, but the biggest issue is offensive consistency. Navy isn't winning the time of possession battle, and the D isn't doing its part. Wake Forest was able to convert ten of 14 third down attempts.

Oct. 10
Navy 48 ... Pitt 45 2OT
Down three in the second overtime on the Navy two, Pitt chose to go for it on fourth down, and missed, as Pat Bostick's throw on a fade pattern got broken up. In a wild game, Navy had a chance to win in regulation, but Joey Bullen's 49-yard kick fell way short as time expired. Bostick ran for a one-yard score to put Pitt up in the first overtime, and Navy responded on its first play with a Reggie Campbell 25-yard touchdown catch. Bullen nailed a 29-yard field goal in the second overtime. LeSean McCoy ran for three touchdowns for the Panthers, while Navy got three Campbell scores, along with short touchdown runs from Adam Ballard, Shun White and
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada in the see-saw battle. The two teams combined for 558 rushing yards.
Player of the game: Navy QB Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada ran 25 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, and completed nine of 12 passes for 166 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Pitt - Passing: Pat Bostick, 20-28, 191 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 32-165, 3 TD. Receiving: Oderick Turner, 6-74, 1 TD
Navy - Passing: Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 9-12, 166 yds, 2 TD
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 25-122, 1 TD. Receiving: Tyree Barnes, 3-58

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Navy will always be able to run on most teams, but against Pitt, it was the passing of
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada that made the big difference. He only threw it 12 times, but when the team needed to move the ball quickly, he was able to find his targets and deliver, just like this was a normal attack. Of course, it was all set up by the running game, which Pitt was completely unable to deal with, thanks to Kaheaku-Enhada making good decisions on the outside, and Eric Kettani and Adam Ballard pounding away well up the middle. This was an important win, for several reasons, but mostly, with Wake Forest and Notre Dame ahead, it was important to make everyone start fearing the passing game more. 

Sept. 29
Navy 31 ... Air Force 20
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada tore off fourth quarter touchdown runs from two and 78 yards out in the fourth quarter as Navy pulled away from Air Force late. Air Force outgained Navy 474 yards to 381, but missed on several scoring chances. QB Shaun Carney had a big day throwing the ball, while Chad Hall got the Falcon touchdowns on runs of 16 and five yards. Air Force's Ryan Harrison miss a 41-yard field goal and got a late 32 yarder blocked, while Jim Ollis lost a fumble on a late drive and earlier, was stopped on fourth and one from the Navy four.
Player of the game: Navy QB Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was 4-of-7 for 79 yards, and ran 15 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Air Force - Passing: Shaun Carney, 18-23, 237 yds
Rushing: Jim Ollis, 15-73. Receiving: Chad Hall, 8-108
Navy - Passing: Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 4-7, 79 yds
Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 15-101, 2 TDs. Receiving: OJ Washington, 4-79

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Navy was able to get by Air Force, but the typical Midshipmen formula still isn't working, and it's going to prove costly down the road. Navy has to win the time of possession battle, and it has to win the running yards total by a huge margin. Air Force was able to move the ball way too easily, but fortunately, there aren't any teams left on the schedule, outside of possibly North Texas, that throws particularly well.

Sept. 22
Navy 46 ... Duke 43
Joey Bullen nailed a 44-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to complete a Navy comeback. After Eron Riley's fourth touchdown catch of the game, coming on a 69-yard play late in the third quarter, the Midshipmen owned the fourth quarter with a 25-yard Bullen field goal and a five-yard Jarod Bryant touchdown catch. In a wild first quarter, Riley caught a 76-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, answered by Navy with a 44-yard O.J. Washington touchdown catch, answered by a 35-yard Riley touchdown on the next play from scrimmage. The two teams combined for 1,046 yards of total offense with Navy running for 304 and Duke passing for 428.
Player of the game: Duke WR Eron Riley caught six passes for 235 yards and four touchdown receptions.
Stat Leaders: Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 23-36, 428 yds, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Re'quan Boyette, 7-42, 1 TD. Receiving: Jomar Wright, 7-89
Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 11-16, 217 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Eric Kettani, 14-71, 2 TDs. Receiving: Zerbin Singleton, 3-48
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Navy has to do something, anything to keep opposing offenses off the field, because the secondary isn't stopping anyone. Usually, the time of possession, when it's in Navy's favor, means the ground game is dominating, but against Duke, it also meant quick strikes from the Blue Devil offense. However, in the fourth quarter, when Jarod Bryant stepped in for Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, the offense started to move and it finally gave the D some rest, hanging on to the ball for ten minutes. This isn't going to be the last wild game Navy is involved in.

Sept. 15
Ball State 34 ... Navy 31 OT
After two big Navy mistakes, Jake Hogue nailed a 24-yard field goal attempt to give Ball State the thrilling win. Brandon Crawford, a 31-year-old Marine, blocked a 32-yard Navy field goal attempt to force the game into overtime, and on Navy's possession, Jarod Bryant lost a fumble on its first play. The two teams traded scores all game long, with Nate Davis throwing three touchdown passes and running for a fourth, while Navy's running game went wild. Helped by an 80-yard touchdown dash from
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who also added a one-yard scoring run, and a 71-yard run from Eric Kettani, Navy tore off 537 rushing yards. Ball State's MiQuale Lewis ran for 161 yards and helped tie the game with a 12-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth.
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis completed 19 of 33 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran three times for 22 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 19-33, 277 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: MiQuale Lewis, 27-161. Receiving: Dante Love, 6-91, 1 TD
Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 3-7, 51 yds
Eric Kettani, 9-126, 2 TD. Receiving: Shun White, 2-45

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Navy ran the ball against Ball State better than it has in years. The option was working to perfection, there were big dashes along with good drives, and 537 yards of production. But again, the time of possession wasn't on its side, and the defense couldn't handle the balance of Ball State. It was almost as if the offense scored too quickly late, with Eric Kettani's 71-yard touchdown dash coming off an eight play Cardinal drive, and just before a nine play scoring drive. This D has to be off the field for extended stretches late in games.

Sept. 7
Rutgers 41 ... Navy 24
Ray Rice became Rutgers' all-time leading rusher as he ripped off 175 yards to go along with three touchdowns in a tough fight with the Midshipmen. Navy stayed alive into the fourth quarter, but misfired on two key chances with an interception thrown into the end zone and a stuffed drive when it had a shot to change the momentum. Navy got a short touchdown run and a scoring pass from QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but Rice always kept Rutgers ahead. The Heisman candidate ran for a four-yard score in the first quarter, scored on a 22-yard pass play in the second, and finally put things out of reach with a two-yard run in the fourth.
Player of the game: Rutgers RB Ray Rice ran 37 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 40 yards and a core
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 5-12, 35 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Eric Kettani, 9-48. Receiving: Greg Sudderth, 2-20
Rutgers - Passing: Mike Teel, 14-19, 266 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Ray Rice, 37-175, 2 TD. Receiving: Tiquan Underwood,  6-104
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Three interceptions against Rutgers, a second straight game losing the time of possession, and yet another loss against a very good team. Navy's biggest issue, and it kept the Temple game from being a blowout, was an inability to take advantage of every opportunity. The Midshipmen would've needed a near-perfect game to beat the Scarlet Knights, but it could've threatened more had there not been the three picks and had the offense been better on third downs. Give the way overmatched defense credit for hanging tough for three quarters.

Aug. 31
Navy 30 ... Temple 19
Navy got pushed a bit, but the running game, and the kicking of Matt Harmon, came through. Harmon connected on three field goals for the final nine Midshipmen points as the Temple defense held tough over the final 35 minutes. The Midshipmen got two short touchdown runs from Adam Ballard and a 44-yard touchdown dash from Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but the defense had to hold on as the Owls got two Adam DiMichele touchdown passes including a 23-yard strike with just over four minutes to play. Navy was able to run off almost three minutes to finally put it away.
Player of the game: Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada completed three of seven passes for 78 yards and ran 15 times for 102 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Kent State - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 21-29, 199 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Travis Shelton, 3-37. Receiving: Kevin Armstrong, 5-45
Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 3-7, 78 yds
Shun White, 8-122. Receiving: Shun White, 1-37
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Navy attack bogged down too often in the second half against Temple, but it was bailed out by a great day from PK Matt Harmon who nailed all three of his field goal attempts. The ground game has to be far, far better on third downs next week at Rutgers and has to control the time of possession after Temple won that battle this week. A bigger concern has to be the pass defense that allowed Adam DiMichele to connect on any short pass he wanted. While the Midshipmen came up with two picks, things have to tighten up in a hurry before next week.

Aug. 31 – at Temple
Offense: There was a little bit of improvement; the offense averaged 10.92 points per game after averaging 9.73 in 2005. There's plenty of experience and a major infusion of talent at running back and receiver, but can any of them play? The attack will rely on several true freshmen all over the place while praying for a major, major improvement on the offensive line. The quarterback situation is solid with Adam DiMichele and Vaughn Charlton each good enough to start after seeing plenty of time last season. Whatever happens, the offense will average more than a nation's worst 215.67 yards per game.
Defense: The good: The D improved giving up nine fewer yards and four fewer points per game than in 2005. The bad: The Owls were 117th in the nation in total defense and 118th in scoring D. The 2008 version should be tremendous once all the freshmen and sophomores are crusty veterans, but for now, there's good competition at almost every spot with no sure-thing starter. The defensive line should be far better with an instant infusion of talent, while the back seven has potential, especially at linebacker, to make a big jump in production. It would be nice if a true shut-down corner could quickly emerge with the hope that JUCO transfer Tommie Williams will be that guy. Don't expect miracles, but the overall numbers should improve.

Sept. 7 – at Rutgers
Offense: Although Rutgers is more than content to pound the ball between the tackles 30 times a game with All-America running back Ray Rice, it wouldn't mind a little more offensive balance this year.  Whether that happens depends on the development of junior quarterback Mike Teel who struggled badly last year, but did play his best ball at the end of the year and has a speedy group of receivers needed to author a rebound.  While question marks exist on the interior of the offensive line, the tackle tandem of seniors Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah is one of the best in the country.
Defense: For Greg Schiano and his Rutgers defense, it's all about creating pressure and turnovers with a variety of different looks to confuse opposing offenses.  Everything came together last year for a unit that had 31 takeaways and allowed just 252 yards and 14 points a game, but five starters need to be replaced.  Senior defensive tackle Eric Foster is a ticking time bomb that exploded on quarterbacks in 2006, en route to All-America recognition.  He's the physical and spiritual leader of a front seven that's noticeably less experienced than last year.  Provided sophomore Devin McCourty can handle the corner spot opposite twin brother Jason, the secondary will rock with the return of all-league safeties, Courtney Greene and Ron Girault.

Sept. 15 - Ball State
Offense: The offense grew into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.
Defense: Awful for the last two seasons, the defense started to get a little better as last year went on and should make even bigger strides with plenty of experience returning. Six starters are back, and most of the new starters have seen enough time to be ready to hit the ground running. The 3-4 is good at getting into the backfield, but there haven't been enough sacks and not nearly enough consistent production against power running teams. The pass defense has been non-existent for the last two seasons. Corners Trey Lewis and Trey Buice have been around, and can hit, but if they don't cover better, the Cardinals won't be able to take the next step.

Sept. 22 - Duke
Offense: Eleven starters return to an offense that lived through the growing pains of a youth movement in an attempt to take a giant leap forward. New offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, who comes over from Notre Dame, should help make quarterback Thaddeus Lewis more consistent. Helping the overall cause even more is a veteran line that needs to be far better after doing next to nothing well throughout last year. It'll be tailback by committee with several different options to see carries, while the overall strength will be at receiver with several young, big, good-looking targets for Lewis to use to push the ball deeper.
Defense: The defense is still not going to be a rock, but there's promise with several good young players to revolve around. Top prospects Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk are rising stars on the line, while Patrick Bailey is a playmaker who'll be one of the ACC's better pass rushers. Michael Tauiliili is a playmaker at middle linebacker, but the outside linebackers are question marks. Safeties Chris Davis and Adrian Aye-Darko are good, and they'll need to be with major concerns at corner.

Sept. 29 - Air Force
Offense: For what seems like the 19th year in a row, Air Force is going to make an attempt to be more diversified and add some passing to the mix. This time, under new offensive coordinator Tim Horton, it might actually happen. Slowly. Running the ball will still be the team's bread-and-butter, but there will be some shotgun, some spread, and a mish-mosh of other offenses to try to get thing moving. Shaun Carney is a good, veteran quarterback to handle all the changes, but he doesn't have much to work with. The receiving corps needs work before it can become a threat, the backfield will be fine in the triple-option, but could struggle in a traditional set, and the offensive line needs to undergo major changes.
Air Force hasn't played defense in about three years and it'll take a major overhaul and a fantastic coaching job by new coordinator Tim DeRuyter to change things up. There's no size, not enough speed, and little in the way of experienced reserves. There has to be some semblance of a pass rush, and the hope will be for the speedy outside linebackers in the 3-4 to generate it. Far more has to be done against the pass. Now for the positives. Drew Fowler is one of the Mountain West's best linebackers and safety Bobby Giannini is a tackling machine.

Oct. 10 – at Pitt
Offense: The graduation of Tyler Palko leaves a gaping hole on the Panther offense that'll be filled by either junior Bill Stull or hot-shot rookie Pat Bostick.  Whoever gets the ball will enjoy an outstanding supporting cast that includes junior running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation and the program's best front wall since Dave Wannstedt arrived.  Wannstedt and Matt Cavanaugh want to establish a more physical ground game, but if the new hurler is up to the challenge, the ensuing balance will make this a very dangerous offense.   
Defense: Last year's defense had big names, like H.B. Blades and Darrelle Revis, with poor results.  This year's defense is devoid of stars, but might wind up being statistically better.  The key will be stopping the run, something that vexed the Panthers throughout the second half of the 2006 season.  The difference this fall will be a defensive line that'll be much deeper than last year, and capable of creating inside-outside pressure with junior tackle Gus Mustakas and senior end Joe Clermond.  Although replacing Revis won't be a snap, the secondary is busting with potential from future all-Big East players, like sophomores Aaron Berry and Elijah Fields.

Oct. 20 - Wake Forest
Offense: Wake Forest will never come out and outbomb anyone, but it'll run effectively behind a veteran offensive line, get the timely passes when needed, and won't screw up. The attack only averaged 21.6 points per game and was 96th in the nation in offense, but there were only 15 giveaways. QB Riley Skinner is back after helping the offense lead the ACC in passing efficiency, but everything will revolve around the ground game with several good runners and four starters returning up front. The receiving corps will be an issue needing to move 2006's leading rusher, Kenneth Moore, back to his natural receiver position.
Defense: The D could be even better than last year when it was solid at bending but rarely breaking finishing 12th in the nation in scoring defense. There's not a Jon Abbate to rely on, and a few key defensive backs need to be replaced, but there's plenty of experience everywhere and lots of speed and athleticism in the secondary. There needs to be more pass rush from the defensive front and there could stand to be fewer big plays allowed against the pass, but the overall production should be solid.

Oct. 27 - Delaware

Nov. 3 – at Notre Dame
Offense: Yeah, Charlie Weis is a great offensive coach, but there's some serious rebuilding needing to be done. There are good prospects, but there are several major concerns and no proven production. Can the line be better despite losing three starters? Will the skill players be remotely close to as good as the Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and Darius Walker foursome of last year? Are the quarterbacks ready? The quarterbacks appear to be fine, the running backs will be solid in a combination, and the receivers are fast and decent. The line will be a plus by the end of the year, but it'll be a problem early on.
Defense: Charlie Weis is trying to improve a defense that was fine against the mediocre, but lousy when it came to stopping the better offenses. Gone is defensive coordinator Rick Minter, and in comes Corwin Brown, who installed a 3-4 scheme to try to generate more big plays and get more speed and athleticism on the field. The line will be the issue early on as two steady starters are needed to help out Trevor Laws. Maurice Crum leads a promising linebacking corps that should shine in the new defense. The big problem could again be the secondary. It has experience, but it won't get as much help from the pass rush, like it did last year, and needs the young corner prospects to push the unspectacular veterans for time.

Nov. 10 – at North Texas
Offense: The offense hasn't moved the ball in two years finishing 117th in the nation last season in yards and 115th in scoring. The look of the attack will change dramatically as new head coach Todd Dodge will incorporate his spread attack in an attempt to get something going. The backfield is solid with RB Jamario Thomas leading the way and a slew of veteran, yet mediocre quarterbacks returning. The receiving corps will need a while to jell with all the talent in the incoming freshman class, while the line will be a major problem early on.
Defense: The defense improved dramatically after making a drastic move to the 3-4. Now it'll go back to a traditional 4-3 and hope the overall experience and depth will pay off with more big plays after forcing just 14 turnovers. The linebackers will be solid with the return of Maurice Holman, Brandon Monroe and Derek Mendoza, while Aaron Weathers anchors a secondary that should be better in time. Generating a pass rush from the front four is a must, but Jeremiah Chapman will be a good end to work around.

Nov. 17 - Northern Illinois
Offense: New offensive coordinator Roy Wittke will put his stamp on the attack early on with more passing plays, more variety, and more funky motions and formations. That'll all mean more from the passing game, and while it wasn't ignored last year, it was mostly used when Garrett Wolfe was either tired or shut down. Six starters return, but this is still a young group with only two seniors on the depth chart. The line was a problem this spring, but it's very big with the potential to be great ... next year. There will be a steady rotation of backs, led mostly by Montell Clanton and Justin Anderson, and more passes spread around, with Britt Davis the number one target. Dan Nicholson has to be a steady leader of the show.
Defense: The NIU defense is steady with several good, sound players, but for all the quickness and all the athleticism, there weren't nearly enough big plays, not enough production from the secondary, and a good, but not great, year against the run. While the corners will be better, expect more of the same from the front seven; for good and bad. End Larry English and tackle Craig Rusch will be regulars in the backfield. This won't be the nation's 90th ranked defense again, and it'll do a good job of bending, but not breaking.

Dec. 1 - Army
Offense: Last year, Army used a veteran offensive line to work the running game behind while the passing game struggled. Now it has to be the other way around. The backfield, while banged up in spring ball, is solid, the line will be a work in progress. The passing game needs to improve hoping for top-prospect Carson Williams to turn into the leader and playmaker everyone's expecting him to become, or else David Pevoto has to take over the reins and be consistent. No matter who's under center, the interceptions have to slow down. Jeremy Trimble leads a potentially strong receiving corps.
The defense has spent most of its time trying to survive. Now it has to start making big plays in all areas after coming up with just 11 sacks, four interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Everyone at every spot can tackle, motor and toughness is never a problem, talent is always the issue. There's good experience and size up front, Caleb Campbell, when he returns from a knee injury, will be one of the nation's most productive safeties leading a decent secondary, and the linebacking corps, in time, will put up plenty of big tackling numbers once new starters Brian Chmura and Frank Scappaticci get comfortable. Overall, the defense has to do a better job of dictating the action instead of letting things happen and trying to make the play.


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