2009 Navy Preview - Offense
Navy RB Ricky Dobbs
Navy RB Ricky Dobbs
Posted Jun 18, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Navy Midshipmen Offense

Navy Midshipmen

Preview 2009 - Offense

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What you need to know: After becoming the first team in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing three years in a row, Navy tacked on a fourth straight rushing title by averaging 292 yards per game. The line is in place to keep the production going, and Ricky Dobbs is an experienced quarterback ready to step in and be the next star for the ground game, but the backfield has to replace all the top runners. Shun White and fullback Eric Kettani are gone, and there aren't any sure-things ready to take their place. While the ground game might take a minor step back, by Navy's standards, the passing game will be better with Dobbs under center. He has a live arm and is the most polished passer the program has had in years.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ricky Dobbs
9-16, 212 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ricky Dobbs
106 carries, 495 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Mario Washington
3 catches, 56 yds

Star of the offense: Junior QB Ricky Dobbs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore FB Alexander Teich
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Mario Washington
Best pro prospect: Sophomore C Brady DeMell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Kaheaku-Enhada, 2) FB Eric Kettani, 3) QB/RB Bryant
Strength of the offense: Running backs, quarterbacks
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth, receivers


Projected Starter: The Ricky Dobbs era finally gets rolling and the junior is ready. At 6-1 and 198 pounds, he's a bit bigger than Navy quarterbacks of the past, and he has a far, far better arm than anyone under center in Annapolis in the last decade. While he's a solid passer who can push the ball down the field, he's still the typical Navy option runner who can take off and make big things happen at any time. He has a little bit of starting experience, getting the call in the win over Northern Illinois, and saw extensive time in six games highlighted by a 224-yard, four touchdown rushing day against SMU. He completed 9-of-16 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown with an interception on the year, while finishing third on the team in rushing with 495 yards and eight scores even though he saw limited time.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Kriss Proctor isn't a bad passer, but he doesn't have the arm of Dobbs and will be more of a runner as the No. 2 man in the mix. He battled for the job this offseason and has a decent hold on the job showing good decision-making ability and nice quickness. A star high school point guard, he sees the field well and is able to dish the ball off consistently.

6-1, 187-pound sophomore Kameron Smith will be the third man in the mix early on, but he's a good enough athlete to be used in a variety of ways. If he's not seeing time at quarterback, he could be used as a runner with the toughness to run inside and the quickness to hit the home run when he gets outside.

Watch Out For ... more passing
. There's always talk about more passing from the Navy offense, but that might actually happen this year with Dobbs taking over. There won't be too much of a departure from what works, but now the attack can do more.
It's Navy. You know exactly what you're going to get out of the quarterbacks with a system that finds the right fit at quarterback, a developmental system that allows the new guys time to get the timing and the offense down, and the ensuing production that means the quarterback will always be in a position to put up big rushing numbers.
The backups. Yes, it's Navy, and the offense will march on if Proctor or Smith have to take over, but they still need time and seasoning. Dobbs went down with a minor ankle injury this spring and it sent waves of panic over the coaching staff. He's fine, and he needs to stay healthy.
Outlook: No, Kaipo-Noa
Kaheaku-Enhada didn't start out his career pushing Roger Staubach for a job, it just seems that way. He's gone now after a long and solid run, but Dobbs should be more than fine while adding some semblance of a vertical element to the mix. The backups have promise, but they need game action.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Step one will be to find someone to take over at one of the Slot Back spots for Shun White, the team's leading rusher who was a flash of lightning averaging 8.3 yards per carry. Sophomore Marcus Curry will get a long look with good toughness and a nice speed burst. He's not as fast as White, but at 5-11 and 200 pounds he can pound a bit.

Taking over one of the other Slot Back jobs will be senior Bobby Doyle, a star on special teams over the course of his career and a part-time runner gaining 169 yards and a touchdown in his limited time. While he didn't see many carries, he made the most of them averaging 10.6 yards per run, and he can also be used as a receiver catching two passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. The 5-11, 204-pounder is a decent blocker who'll do anything to make a play. He's always making something happen on special teams.

The biggest loss in the backfield could be at fullback where bruiser Eric Kettani is gone. Sophomore Alexander Teich has been solid in practices, but he's only 6-0 and 212 pounds and failed to bring the power that Kettani did. However, he's a far better all-around athlete with more speed. If he can power his way through the line, he'll be gone.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Cory Finnerty is a speedster who'll be working behind Marcus Curry. The 5-10, 190-pounder started the first seven games of last year but only finished with 71 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He's a good blocker and can be used as a receiver with four grabs for 37 yards.

Playing in a rotation with Bobby Doyle will be Aaron Santiago, a 5-8, 167-pound jitterbug quick back from Hawaii who can cut on a dime and has good potential. He won't do anything up the middle, but he should have a huge average per carry when he gets the ball on the outside on the move.

Bringing a big more size to the fullback equation will be 6-1, 217-pound Vince Murray, a tough junior who is more of a pure fullback than Alexander Teich. He's a bit of a bruiser with a tough running style. He'll do all the dirty work, but he won't crank out the big runs like Teich.

Watch Out For ... Navy to not finish No. 1 in the nation in rushing for the first time in five years. The program hasn't been any worse than third in rushing in seven years and it'll probably be in the top three yet again, but there's too much of a drop-off in talent to lead the country again. 
Curry. He has to be the home-run hitter of the bunch. While he won't be Shun White as far as breakaway speed, he should tear off some huge dashes.
Experience. There isn't any. White and Eric Kettani were the 1-2 rushing punch from the running back slots accounting for close to 2,100 of the team's 3,801 rushing yards. The quarterbacks took care of most of the rest.
Outlook: The running game will keep on doing its thing because of the system and because of the type of player the program cranks out in the backfield, but there's a big talent dip from last year and a chasm compared to two years ago. The talent isn't there, but the production will be solid; that's what the rating is based on.
Rating: 7


Projected Starters: There should be more production coming from the receivers this year with Mario Washington likely to be the new deep threat. At 6-0 and 193 pounds he's a smallish speedster who can stretch the field. He only caught three passes, but he made big things happen averaging 18.7 yards per grab and now should be a big-play target with Ricky Dobbs able to bomb away.

5-10, 176-pound junior Mike Schupp will step in at receiver after catching one pass for 14 yards. While he's not all that big, he's a tough blocker who can spring big plays down the field. Extremely smart and a good route runner, he'll get a few passes a game thrown his way.

Projected Top Reserves: Greg Jones will finally get a little big of work after being a practice-squad player over the first three years. A high school quarterback, as well as an occasional receiver, he's a quick 5-10 and 182 pounds working as a potential deep threat behind Washington.

At 6-4 and 208 pounds, senior Nick Henderson has the best size of any of the receiver prospects. He hasn't done much yet, he has yet to catch a pass, but with his size, experience, and toughness, he could be used like a tight end, or as close to one as Navy would get.

Watch Out For ... Washington. He's a legitimate deep threat who'd make an interesting No. 3 target on a top passing team. He'll get his chances to make big plays as the offense will try to throw him one deep ball per game.
Blocking and quickness. Being a Navy receiver is sort of like being the closer for the Washington Nationals; you're not going to be used much and you have to take advantage when you get the chance. In the meantime, the Midshipmen receivers have to be able to block. They're all quick and they should be able to get open if the offense ever decides to use the forward pass.
Production. There's almost no returning production across the board with Tyree Barnes gone. Barnes caught 20 passes, the rest of the team caught 26 with the running backs getting many of those.
Outlook: For what Navy wants to do, there might be more production than usual with a passer like Ricky Dobbs under center. If Washington can be close to as good as Barnes, the corps will do its job.
Rating: 3.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Playing left tackle doesn't mean the same at Navy as it does at other places, pass protection isn't at a premium, but Jeff Battipaglia can do it. The 6-4, 260-pounder started every game as a sophomore and should be the star of the line over the next two years. While he's not huge, he's great on the move and is fantastic at springing the big play.

Returning to his starting spot at right guard is senior Curtis Bass, a 6-1, 266-pound veteran is strong enough to blast open holes for the power running game and isn't bad when he has to move. If he's not the team's strongest weight room performer, he's in the top three and will be the one the team works behind for the hard yards.

6-3, 260-pound junior Matt Molloy took over the starting right tackle job halfway through last year and was excellent. One of the team's toughest players, he's a talented all-around blocker who's one of the best on the team at finishing blocks. He has the perfect combination of size, attitude, and athleticism for the Navy offense, and he should be a fixture for the next two years.

The leader of the line should be Osei Asante, a 6-1, 264-pound senior who has been a versatile reserve over the last two years. He'll start out at left guard but he could move to center if needed. He saw enough time last year to be ready to shine now that he's one of the key blockers. He'll be a rock.

Ricky Moore turned out to be a solid starting center after moving over from the defensive side, and now it'll be up to sophomore Brady DeMell to step in and produce. At 6-3 and 286 pounds he's one of the team's biggest linemen and he has to be consistent in his line call. While he's big, he's a good athlete who'll be allowed to grow into the job over the next three seasons.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Austin Miike got four starts at right tackle last year and is in the hunt for the staring job on the left side. He's most likely going to be one of the most important backups with the ability to play either tackle spot or move to guard if absolutely needed. He's 6-3 and 265 pounds with good finishing ability when blocking for the ground game.

Senior Andy Lark is a bowling ball of a blocker at 6-0 and 267 pounds and now knows what he's doing. He made ten tackles in 2007 as a nose tackle before moving over to the offensive side where he saw time as a backup in every game. He can play either guard spot and will start out working behind Asante on the left side.

Watch Out For ... the battle at center. DeMell is a big body who needs to the time to grow into the starting job, but he might be needed at guard because of his size. Junior Patrick Snow is a 6-1, 252-pound athlete who doesn't have any real experience, but he can get to the next level.
Tackle. There's a ton of excitement surrounding the future on the outside with Battiaglia and Molloy two nice veterans who should be fantastic over the next two years. They're the perfect fits for the attack.
Veteran reserves. This is always a big issue for Navy, and this year more than ever it'll take some time before the inexperienced backups can step in and produce. There will be major problems if there are injuries early on.
Outlook: The Navy offensive line is about timing and precision, and this group should have it with two excellent tackles, a nice veteran guard in Bass, and a leader in Asante ready to step in and shine at left guard. The run blocking, as always, will be excellent, and it'll have to be even better with all the new faces in the backfield.
Rating: 5.5