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2008 Independent Lookbacks/Recaps
Army QB Chip Bowden
Army QB Chip Bowden
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 15, 2009


Taking a look back at every Independent team's 2008 season.


2008 Independent Recaps

2009 Pages
Army | Navy | Notre Dame

2008 Pages
Army | Navy | Notre Dame

- 2007 Independent Lookback/Recaps | 2008 Independent Lookaheads


 - 2008 Independent Lookbacks/Recaps

Army

CFN Preseason Prediction: 1-11    Final Record: 3-9

Recap
: The offense changed up to a Navy-like rushing attack, and it struggled mightily early on scoring just 20 points in the first three games despite playing just Temple, New Hampshire, and Akron. All three games were losses, and those were followed up by a tough 21-17 loss to Texas A&M. And then the thing actually worked as the offense blew up with wins over Tulane and Eastern Michigan before losing to Buffalo in a 27-24 heartbreaker. While a nice win over Louisiana Tech might have given the season hope, losing the final four games of the season, including a 34-0 spanking by Navy, ended things on a down note and ended the Army head coaching tenure of Stan Brock.

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Collin Mooney
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Frank Scappaticci

Biggest Surprise: Collin Mooney and the running game. The senior fullback became the centerpiece of the offense coming through with a brilliant midseason stretch of 588 yards and six touchdowns over three games. He finished the season with 1,339 yards and eight scores, but only scored in three games. The running game actually worked, going over 200 yards in eight games, over 300 yards three times, and blew by Rice for 461 yards and four scores … in a loss.

Biggest Disappointment: The Black Knights weren’t able to build on a strong midseason. After winning three of four games, with the one loss coming in overtime to Buffalo, Army appeared to turn a corner as a program. There was actually talk of a possible bowl appearance with a little bit of luck. And then came the finishing kick with losses to Air Force, Rice, Rutgers and Navy, losing the final two games by a combined score of 64-3.

Looking Ahead: New head coach Rich Ellerson is a good one. He comes over from Cal Poly where his offenses were among the best in the FCS, but he’ll have to find a few key players good enough to run his attack. Collin Mooney is gone, as is the interior of the line, but nine starters return on defense to hope for a big turnaround early on.

Navy

CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5   Final Record: 8-5

Recap
: There was some concern that the coaching change meant a return to the mediocre for a Navy program that thrived under Paul Johnson, who left for Georgia Tech. After a 1-2 start, with losses to Ball State and Duke, Navy needed to come up with a win, and it got three against Rutgers, Wake Forest, and Air Force, all bowl bound teams, before losing to Pitt. Another nice run with four wins in five games, with the one loss coming to Notre Dame, sealed a spot in the EagleBank Bowl against Wake Forest. Beating Northern Illinois and Army by a combined score of 50-0 to close out the regular season turned out to be the high point of the year as the season closed out with a 29-19 loss to Wake Forest.

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Shun White
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Ross Pospisil

Biggest Surprise: The biggest surprise was that there were no surprises. The one slight shocker was how the defense dominated the final two games against Northern Illinois and Army teams desperate for wins. It was another year, another winning season for Navy, and another bowl appearance. This has become old hat for the program, but this season was different as it had to overcome the loss of head coach Paul Johnson. It was business as usual for the ground game as it finished No. 1 in the nation, again, as head coach Ken Niumataolo proved he could handle the gig.

Biggest Disappointment: The defense against Wake Forest. After making such great strides as the season went on, the Midshipmen struggled against the Demon Deacons in the bowl game. Wake QB Riley Skinner completed all 11 of his passes, while the running game rumbled for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Even so, Navy was in the game late but 15 Wake Forest points in the fourth pulled out the win.

Looking Ahead: Niumataolo was able to win with Johnson’s players, and now he’ll have to deal with some turnover on both sides of the ball. That’s nothing new for a Navy program used to plugging the holes without a problem, but there’s a lot of lost production in the offensive backfield and at cornerback. This will be another strong team that’ll do what it needs to do to get to another bowl game, even if it’ll have to sweat a little bit.  

Notre Dame

CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5    Final Record: 7-6

Recap
: Just when it seemed like Notre Dame would be ushering in a new coaching era, Charlie Weis was kept around and his team came up with a 49-21 bombing of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl to close out a strange, disappointing season. The Irish were far better than 2007, doing just enough to lead the way to a 5-2 start. However, it was a mirage as wins over name teams like Michigan, Purdue, and Washington turned out to be no big deal. A four overtime loss to Pitt was acceptable, but a 24-23 collapse against a woeful Syracuse team wasn’t. Struggling to get a first down against USC in a 38-3 loss put Weis all but kicked out the door, but to the shock of many, he was given a reprieve. And then came the Jimmy Clausen 22-of-26, 401-yard, five touchdown performance against Hawaii to potentially set the tone for 2009.

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Jimmy Clausen
Defensive Player of the Year: FS David Bruton

Biggest Surprise: Charlie Weis is still the head coach. He could’ve been canned late in the year and almost no one would’ve been surprised or disappointed. However, it might not have been fair. This is his program now, and just when his recruiting classes are starting mature, this is when the payoff is supposed to come. Getting a super-recruit like LB Manti Te’o from Hawaii this year showed that the potential is there to bring in the top-shelf talent, but it’s BCS-or-Bust (or at least the team needs to come really, really close) or there will be a change next year.

Biggest Disappointment: The losses to Pitt and Syracuse. The Irish got away with wins against San Diego State and Navy, needing to rally to beat the Aztecs and needing to hang on to beat Navy, but the team came through when pushed in those games. On the flip side, the defense couldn’t hang on against the two Big East teams on the schedule with each scoring in the final minute of regulation. Had the Irish won those two games, it would’ve finished a solid 8-4 before the bowl, and Weis would be secure as the head man.

Looking Ahead: Notre Dame will certainly be in the spotlight, at least more than usual. With the pressure on to finally produce at the high level it was at when Weis first came aboard, this is supposed to be the year when Jimmy Clausen, his tremendous young receivers, and the offense explode after just getting by over the last few years. There’s good depth, an upgrade of talent compared to two seasons ago, and the right coaching mix. Weis is going to be the offensive coordinator again, and he should help make Clausen finally shine. This will be interesting one way or another.