2009 CFN Navy Preview
Navy FB Alexander Teich
Navy FB Alexander Teich
Posted Jun 18, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Navy Midshipmen

Navy Midshipmen

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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- 2009 CFN Navy Preview | 2009 Navy Offense
- 2009 Navy Defense | 2009 Navy Depth Chart
- 2008 Navy Preview |
2007 Navy Preview | 2006 Navy Preview  

Head coach: Ken Niumatalolo
2nd year: 8-6
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 10, Def. 15, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 28
Ten Best Navy Players
1. NG Nate Frazier, Sr.
2. LB Ross Pospisil, Sr.
3. QB Ricky Dobbs, Jr.
4. LB Clint Sovie, Sr.
5. DE Matt Nechak, Sr.
6. O Jeff Battipaglia, Jr.
7. OT Matt Molloy, Jr.
8. DE Jabaree Tuani, Soph.
9. SS Wyatt Middleton, Jr.
10. CB Blake Carter, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 at Ohio State
9/12 Louisiana Tech
9/19 at Pitt
9/26 Western Kentucky
10/3 Air Force
10/10 at Rice
10/17 at SMU
10/24 Wake Forest
10/31 Temple
11/7 at Notre Dame
11/14 Delaware
11/28 at Hawaii
12/12 Army (Phil.)

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record:

Aug. 30 Towson W 41-13
Sept. 5 at Ball State L 35-23
Sept. 13 at Duke L 41-31
Sept. 20 Rutgers W 23-21
Sept. 27 at W Forest W 24-17
Oct. 4 at Air Force W 33-27
Oct. 18 Pitt L 42-21
Oct. 25 SMU W 34-7
Nov. 1 Temple W 33-27 OT
Nov. 15 Notre Dame L 27-21
Nov. 25 at No. Illinois W 16-0
Dec. 6 Army (Phil) W 34-0
EagleBank Bowl
Dec. 20 Wake Forest L 29-19

And now it's the defense's turn.

The Navy offense has been the reason for the tremendous success over the last several years, with the rushing attack the best in the nation four years running. It's impossible to properly simulate the speed and precision of the Midshipmen attack in practices, and it has shown as teams with far superior talent, which is almost everyone on the schedule, always appear shell-shocked when they have to see the machine work up close and personal. And while there will be rushing production, as always, this year, it'll be the defense that has to lead the way to another bowl game.

Navy, like all the service academies, always has lots of turnover and always seems able to plug in the gaps with players, cogs, who can do the same things as the ones before them. Lose one small, quick, running quarterback, replace him with another. Lose one too-small linebacker who makes up for his deficiencies by going 100 miles per hour, dust another off the plebe pile and throw him in. But this year, the holes might be a little too big at running back to patch up, while the defense has more than just carbon-copy players ready to step in. The defense has some real, live, talent.

To understand how amazing Navy's success has been is to realize that all of this is happening with FCS talent. Every year, maybe half the starters would start for another FBS team, and there are only a handful that could start for a BCS conference squad. However, this year's defense has a group of players that can really play. They not only have the full-tilt motors, but they have skills that should make this the best Navy D in years.

Start with Nate Frazier, a 292-pounds nose guard who's the anchor of a run defense that allowed just 135 yards per game. Add in a deep, stunningly decent-sized group of ends to fill out the 3-4 and a linebacking corps with veterans Ross Pospisil and Clint Sovie who can hang around and produce against just about anyone not in the top 20, and all of a sudden, teams that spend all their time worrying about the Navy offense will have to figure out how to move the ball.

Offensively, the line will be solid and QB Ricky Dobbs is a talented veteran, so the production shouldn't slip too much, but there's a major talent drop-off at running back where bruising fullback Eric Kettani and lightning fast slot back Shun White have to be replaced after all but carrying the attack.

In his second years, head coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff should keep the positive run going, and there's a chance for this to be the best Navy team yet since Paul Johnson helped kick it all off. If the running game can be the Navy running game again, Navy could open up even more eyes.

What to watch to watch for on offense: More passing ... at least a little more. Ricky Dobbs is the most talented passer the offense has had in years, and while he's not going to be Sam Bradford winging it around, he has the arm to push the ball deeper and make things happen with the offense that the past several Navy quarterbacks couldn't. Dobbs can run, too, and it's not like the offense is going to stop doing what it does best, but it could be interesting to see if the attack can open things up a bit.

What to watch to watch for on defense: The linebackers. Ross Pospisil led the team with 106 tackles, Clint Sovie made 60 stops, Ram Vela made three sacks and 33 tackles, Tony Haberer made 41 tackles, and Craig Schaefer is a good veteran who appears to be ready to come up with a good year. This group is tough, quick, and will be flying all over the place to not only add more to the pass rush but to be even better against the run.

The team will be far better if … there's some semblance of a pass rush ... again. There hasn't been any pressure into the backfield over the past few years, with last year a particular problem  coming up with just 17 sacks and 61 tackles for loss. For all the good parts of the defense, one of the relative weak points is at corner. The more the ends can provide a little bit of pressure, the more of a break the inconsistent secondary will get.

The Schedule: This could be the toughest slate Navy has dealt with in years. Starting out the season at Ohio State isn't exactly a plus, while Louisiana Tech will be a WAC title contender and Pitt is going to be strong. That's just the first three weeks. There are the winnable dates against teams like Western Kentucky, SMU, Temple, and Delaware that should provide a nice base of wins, but there's a ceiling on how high the team can go with road trips to Notre Dame and Hawaii in December and a home date against Wake Forest. The Army game is pushed off to December 12th after coming back from Hawaii.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Ricky Dobbs. Hearts stopped beating for a second in spring ball when Dobbs went down with an ankle injury. It didn't turn out to be serious, but Niumatalolo showed how much concern he has about his quarterback situation, and his season, when Dobbs went down. Not just a quick runner who'll gain well over 500 yards this year, Dobbs can throw and he should add an extra dimension to the attack.

Best Defensive Player: Senior NG Nate Frazier. If Dobbs is the team's most indispensible player, Frazier is No. 1A. The 292-pound nose guard is the anchor of a great run defense with the talent and strength to hold up against the most physical of running games. Quick into the backfield, as well as a brick wall against the run, Frazier is one of the best defensive tackles the program has ever had.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Alexander Teich. Part of the reason the Navy ground game works so well is because the fullback can soften things up on the inside enough for things to break open wide on the outside. When the fullback is running well, Navy will pound away with him over and over again until a defense can step up and stop it. Teich isn't a bruiser at just 6-0 and 212 pounds, and while he's physical and will try hard, he's not going to be Eric Kettani.

The season will be a success if ... the Midshipmen get to a bowl and pulls off a win over one of the BCS teams. While this might be the best Navy team in years, the record might not be fantastic because of the schedule. Getting to a bowl game is always an accomplishment and it'll never get stale. But along the way, it would be nice to get a win over Wake Forest or Pitt.

Key game: Sept. 12 vs. Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are better than the Midshipmen, but this is a must win for Navy as the sandwich in between road games at Ohio State and Pitt. Lose the home opener, and it'll likely be an 0-3 start with the showdown against Air Force, and road games at Rice and SMU, coming up fast. It's not a stretch to say that a bowl game might be in jeopardy if Navy loses this game.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Rushing yards per game: Navy 292.4 - Opponents 134.8
- Sacks: Navy 17 for 90 yards - Opponents 10 for 56 yards
- Penalties: Opponents 63 for 524 yards - Navy 41 for 348 yards

- 2009 CFN Navy Preview | 2009 Navy Offense
- 2009 Navy Defense | 2009 Navy Depth Chart
- 2008 Navy Preview |
2007 Navy Preview | 2006 Navy Preview