2007 Independent Lookbacks/Recaps
Navy RB Adam Ballard
Navy RB Adam Ballard
Posted Feb 18, 2008

Taking a look back at every Independent team's 2007 season.

2007 Independent Recaps

- 2008 Independent Lookaheads
Army | Navy | Notre Dame

2007 Pages
2007 Independent Season | Army | Navy | Notre Dame

Recap: It’s not as if much was expected from Army this season, but when Navy and Air Force grab bowl bids in the same season, it shines a flood light on the Black Knights’ ineptitude.  The academy dropped its final six games after climbing to 3-3, none more embarrassing than a sixth consecutive loss to the Middies that added an exclamation point to the growing divide between the two rivals.  Although Army’s problems were boundless, an abundance of turnovers and a dreadful run defense were the primary culprits in an 11th losing season in-a-row.

Offensive Player of the Year:
WR Jeremy Trimble

Defensive Player of the Year: S Caleb Campbell

Biggest Surprise: Coming back to beat Tulane, 20-17, in overtime on Oct. 6.  Seemingly headed to a defeat, the Knights went 80 yards in the final 29 seconds of regulation, getting a game-tying, 36-yard touchdown pass from a third-string quarterback as time expired.  It evened Army’s record at 3-3, representing a high point in the season for the program.    

Biggest Disappointment: Failing to make Navy even break a sweat in its 38-3 loss on Dec. 1.  Yeah, bowing to the Middies is becoming a habit around West Point, but managing a measly field goal against a bad defense, and losing by double-digits for the sixth straight year is fast becoming unacceptable.        

Looking Ahead: First-year head coach Stan Brock is open to any and all changes that he can adopt with the constraints of working at a service academy.  The Black Knights might want to consider more use of the triple-option, which has helped Army and Navy bridge the wedge between themselves and deeper opponents. 

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.

Notre Dame
Recap: While most everyone figured Notre Dame would be rebuilding in the post-Brady Quinn era, few expected it to be so painful and profound.  The Irish became a national punch line in 2007 with a historically ugly campaign, losing nine games for the first time in school history, including an unthinkable six straight in South Bend.  The offense, head coach Charlie Weis’ domain, was a particular calamity, averaging a mere 16 points a game, while finishing last nationally in total offense and sacks allowed.           

Offensive Player of the Year: TE John Carlson

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Trevor Laws

Biggest Surprise: Shocking UCLA at the Rose Bowl, 20-6, on Oct. 6.  Yes, the Irish were aided by the Bruins’ lack of healthy quarterbacks, but at the time, Notre Dame was 0-5 and reeling out of control.  Despite managing just 140 total yards, the Irish used seven turnovers and a touchdown from LB Maurice Crum to mercifully break into the win column.    

Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Navy, 46-44, on Nov. 3 in an epic triple-overtime thriller.  Throughout the good times and the bad, handling the Middies had become a given for the Irish for more than four decades.  Until this fall.  Navy went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame before foiling a potential game-tying two-pointer for the long-awaited victory.  For the Irish, the loss was more symbolic than anything else, a sign of just how far the program had plummeted.   

Looking Ahead: At least the Irish will have momentum heading into next year, courtesy of season-ending wins over Duke and Stanford.  Notre Dame played a ton of kids this fall, including true freshman QB Jimmy Clausen, so the program should be in a better position to compete in 2008.  How much better is a question that’ll be answered under a blue and gold microscope.