2008 CFN Navy Preview
Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada
Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada
Posted May 9, 2008

There might be a new head coach and several new players in key spots, but Navy should still be Navy with Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada leading the nation's best rushing attack. Can the team keep on rolling without Paul Johnson at the helm? Check out the CFN Navy Preview.

Navy Midshipmen

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Navy Preview | 2008 Navy Offense
- 2008 Navy Defense | 2008 Navy Depth Chart
2007 CFN Navy Preview | 2006 CFN Navy Preview 

Don't ... touch ... anything.

What Paul Johnson was able to do at Navy was nothing short of miraculous. This was a program that did a whole bunch of nothing for a long, long time, and then it became a regular on the bowl circuit. Now it's up to new head man Ken Niumatalolo to keep the train rolling.

Head coach: Ken Niumatalolo
1st year: 0-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 11, Def. 17, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Navy Players
1. QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Sr.
2. CB Rashawn King, Sr.
3. FB Eric Kettani, Sr.
4. QB/RB Jarod Bryant, Sr.
5. FS Wyatt Middleton, Soph.
6. NG Nate Frazier, Jr.
7. RB Shun White, Sr.
8. OG Anthony Gaskins, Sr.
9. LB Clint Sovie, Jr.
10. S Jeff Deliz, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Towson
Sept. 5 at Ball State
Sept. 13 at Duke
Sept. 20 Rutgers
Sept. 27 at Wake Forest
Oct. 4 at Air Force
Oct. 18 Pitt
Oct. 25 SMU
Nov. 1 Temple
Nov. 15 Notre Dame (Balt.)
Nov. 25 at Northern Illinois
Dec. 6 Army (Philadelphia)

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 46-43
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

It's not like the program can get any better. There are always going to be limitations when it comes to recruiting and the type of athletes who'll come into Annapolis, it's not like Terrelle Pryor had Navy on his short list, and the team will never have the talent to get to a BCS game. Even so, winning consistently, beating Army, and going to a bowl makes everyone happy, and if a win against Notre Dame is thrown into the mix every generation or so, all the better.

So now it's up to
Niumatalolo to make sure the nation's best running attack three years going continues to be its dominant self. Everyone knows the fastball is coming, but can anyone hit it? Not on a regular basis, and it has been that type of precision, military-like, that has allowed Navy to run this attack over and over again and succeed despite having marginal athletes with most not good enough to play at any other D-I school.

So while every new coach wants to change things up a bit,
Niumatalolo will stick with the basics. First down: run. Down 30: run. Two-minute drill: run. In a shootout with a high-octane passing team: run. Run, run, run, and run some more, hope the defense full of undersized try-hards can hold things together just long enough to not get blasted, and then run it again.

This year's team should be worse on offense but better on defense. That's not to say the ground game won't be effective, it should be almost as good as ever with several good parts to the backfield returning, but it isn't as deep and it isn't as talented. The defense suffered some major injuries early last year, and now all the returning experience should make for a more consistent, more productive year.

Everything is in place to go to a sixth straight bowl game, beat Army for a seventh straight season, and keep intact what Johnson had put in place. However, it's
Niumatalolo's team now, and he has prove it. Anything less than a bowl season will be a major problem going forward.

What to watch to watch for on offense: Jarod Bryant.
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is the best and most experienced quarterback option, but Bryant isn't far behind, if at all, and could still push for the starting job this fall. Even though he probably won't get it, Bryant is too good to keep off the field with the type of speed and athleticism that could've landed him in the SEC. He'll line up as a slot back, a quarterback, and wherever needed to get him involved.

What to watch to watch for on defense: Improvement in the back eight. The last thing last year's defense needed was a few key injuries early on, and that's exactly what happened when Clint Sovie, arguably the team's most athletic and productive linebacker, got knocked out for the year in game two with a broken ankle. Add to that the loss of tackling-machine safety Jeff Deliz with a foot problem, and a defense that could ill-afford to lose playmakers was without two key ones. Now they're back, and with CB Rashawn King, FS Wyatt Middleton, and decent players everywhere else, the back eight should be far better.

The team will be far better if … there's some semblance of a pass rush. There was no pass rush whatsoever, quarterbacks like Joe Flacco of Delaware and Giovanni Vizza of North Texas went ballistic, and the pass efficiency defense was the worst in America. Navy's defense has to get off the field as soon as possible, and that'll mean more third down stops from its good, but beleaguered secondary.

The Schedule: Starting out against Towson is a nice preseason game, but what might appear on paper to be an easy early victory at Ball State isn't going to be a plus, while going to Duke and Northern Illinois won't be layups. The biggest problem will be the dates with Ball State, Rutgers, Pitt, and SMU, with good receivers and potentially top passing games that could light up the Midshipmen like a Christmas tree. A run of four road trips in a five game stretch will be tough early on meaning there can't be slips against SMU or Temple over the second half.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. He'll have to battle with Jarod Bryant to keep the job, but he improved his passing from his sophomore to junior seasons and ran the ground game more efficiently. He's a big-play runner who's great around the goal line, and while he'll never be a great passer, he's efficient and he'll hit the big play here and there.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Rashawn King. A good-sized corner who tackles like a safety
, he has the speed, the size, and the skills to be a lock-down No. 1 coverman, but he has to do far more when the ball is in the air. He's a great tackler, but he only picked off one pass and broke up two.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Michael Walsh. If there's no pass rush, the secondary is going to struggle again. There wasn't any pressure into the backfield last year, and the secondary got picked apart to death. Now it'll be up to Walsh, a speedy veteran at one end, to start hitting quarterbacks. Junior Matt Nechack is a big, promising option on the other side.

The season will be a success if ... the Midshipmen get to a bowl. The teams that had down years last season, like Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, and Pitt, will all be better and can't be counted on as wins again. However, the running game should still be good enough to beat Towson, SMU, Temple and Army, meaning there will need to be just two other wins to get back to a bowl. Anything less than a 13th game will be a major disappointment with the new regime trying to get off the ground.

Key game: Sept. 5 at Ball State. Ball State, with its high-octane offense led by QB Nate Davis, is more than good enough to put up huge numbers on the board if the Midshipmen secondary isn't better. This will be a great early test for the Navy defense, and if it comes away with the win, it'll mean things have changed from last year and this should be another good season.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Rushing yards per game: Navy 348.8 yards – Opponents 175.8 yards
- Passing yards per game: Opponents 263.4 yards – Navy 95.3 yards
- Passing TDs: Opponents 32 – Navy 9; Rushing TDs: Navy 53 – Opponents 28


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