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2010 Navy Preview – Offense
Navy OT Jeff Battipaglia
Navy OT Jeff Battipaglia
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 29, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Navy Midshipmen Offense


Navy Midshipmen

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The record-setting string of four straight years leading the nation in rushing came to an end last year as the Midshipmen finished fourth in the nation in rushing. However, after leading the country in 2008 averaging 292 yards per game, it’s not like the production fell off the map averaging 281 yards per outing last year. QB Ricky Dobbs set the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, 27, and now he’s the featured star with a little bit of a Heisman buzz building around him. The backs, as always, are lightning quick, but the loss of Marcus Curry for violating team rules leaves a hole in the backfield. Fortunately, the fullbacks, led by Vince Murray, are fantastic, and the quick, experienced line should once again be great for the ground game (even if the pass protection is abysmal). As always, the passing game will rely on a few big plays here and there, but will still be among the least productive in college football.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ricky Dobbs
56-105, 1,031 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Ricky Dobbs
315 carries, 1,203 yds, 27 TD
Receiving: Mario Washington
9 catches, 165 yds

Star of the offense: Senior QB Ricky Dobbs
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore RB Gee Gee Greene
Unsung star on the rise: Junior C Eric Douglass
Best pro prospect: Dobbs (as a running back)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dobbs, 2) FB Vince Murray, 3) OT Jeff Battipaglia
Strength of the offense: Running Game, Quickness
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Veteran Slotbacks

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Option quarterbacks have never made much noise in the Heisman race, but senior Ricky Dobbs is no ordinary option playmaker. He set the NCAA record for touchdown runs by a quarterback scoring 27 times and running for 1,192 yards with seven 100-yard games, and he even threw a little bit completing 53% of his passes for 1,031 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. Making the season and the stats even more impressive was that he missed the Wake Forest and was limited against Temple with a knee problem. Had he been 100% in those three games, he would’ve been a mortal lock for more than 30 rushing scores.

At 6-1 and 198 pounds he has decent size and the prerequisite quickness for a Navy quarterback, he’s also tough as nails running inside or out, and he can hit the home run from anywhere on the field. With his experience and his skill in running the option (even though offensive coordinator, Ivan Jasper, thinks he could do a better job on his reads), now he has to do more to let others do the work; the fewer shots he has to take, the better. With a terrific arm, he’ll also expand the passing game a little bit and he needs to be more accurate after struggling way too much when he was forced to throw. But any negatives and concerns are nitpicking for a leader and a talent who could go down as the most productive spread-option running quarterback of all-time.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Kriss Proctor is nowhere near the talent that Ricky Dobbs is, but the 6-1, 195-pound veteran was able to step in and lead the way to a win over Wake Forest without attempting a pass. He ran for 89 yards against the Demon Deacons and 52 more against Temple, but three of his five scores came in garbage time against Rice and one of his four passes on the year was picked off. A great runner with a good command of the attack, and after a tremendous offseason, he can once again be a serviceable fill-in when needed.

Former safety Travis Keating was decent in spring all, and while the 6-1, 184-pound sophomore needs a lot of work, he’s a quick enough runner to possibly be decent if thrown to the wolves. He’s not going to throw much, if ever, but in time he could be a good option with his cutting ability and his smarts.

Watch Out For … Proctor to see a little time, even if Hobbs is fine. Proctor improved his passing a little bit, and while he’ll never be a high-octane thrower, he won’t be as miserable as he was last year. Dobbs is the franchise, and the coaching staff doesn’t want him to be worn down.
Strength: Rushing scores. Duh … Navy quarterbacks can run. Dobbs and Proctor combined for 32 scores last year and should have no problem hitting the 30-score mark again. Others will get involved, but the quarterbacks are automatic around the goal line.
Weakness: Passing. Dobbs might have a live arm and he might be a better passer than most Navy quarterbacks, but the air attack only works when it surprises a sleepy and unsuspecting secondary. The Midshipmen QBs completed 53% of their passes last year for just 1,058 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions.
Outlook: Dobbs is a special quarterback who should once again set records if he can stay healthy throughout a full season. But can he shine with all the attention? There will be a Heisman push and he’ll be the focus of plenty of stories this year, making him even more of a target than normal. The team can win with Proctor under center, if needed, but the team will be special with Dobbs.
Unit Rating: 8.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior Vince Murray didn’t take the fullback job by the horns early on, but by the fourth week he became a major part of the attack and eventually became a workhorse with a four-game streak of 100 yards with 175 against Wake Forest and 158 against Notre Dame. At 6-1 and 217 pounds, he’s not a big, bruising fullback but he’s tough, impossible to bring down on first contact, and he’s always moving forward. While all the work wore him down, having problems with a banged up shoulder late in the year, it’ll take something serious to get him off the field.

As a true freshman, slot back Gee Gee Greene got a little bit of work throughout the year finishing with 253 yards on 41 carries highlighted by a 41-yard day against Delaware. At 5-10 and 180 pounds, he’s not big, but he fits the mold of the smallish, cut-on-a-dime quick Navy backs. He might disappear at times, but he’ll have a few big games here and there and he’ll hit his share of home runs getting the ball on the outside.

Junior Aaron Santiago was supposed to be a part of the rotation last year, but he only got a carry for nine yards in the blowout over Rice and he spent most of his time on special teams. The 5-8, 167-pounder from Hawaii will never do anything up the middle, but he’s fast, really fast, sub-4.5 fast, tough, and should get a long look at one of the slot back jobs.

Projected Top Reserves: While he’s not the bruiser that Vince Murray is, junior Alexander Teich is a fast playmaker at fullback running for 376 yards on 70 carries last year. While he’s not huge at 6-0 and 217 pounds, he’s a tough blocker and he’s a terrific all-around athlete who can be used on kickoff returns averaging 27.6 yards per try last year.

Sophomore Bo Snelson is smallish, even by Navy standards, at 5-7 and 180 pounds (and that’s generous), but he was terrific all offseason and has the home-run hitting speed to come up with several huge runs, even if he’s not going to be a consistent producer. He spent most of last year on special teams and only got a carry for nine yards, but now he’ll be a part of the rotation with Gee Gee Greene.

5-7, 153-pound Andre Byrd is among the team’s quickest players, and he’s surprisingly tough for his size. He only played three games last year, and only got a carry for two yards, but he’ll see a role in the offense in his final year playing behind Aaron Santiago in the slot. 

Watch Out For … Greene. If anyone is going to step up in place of Marcus Curry, it’s Greene, who should be a big-play performer whenever he gets the ball in his hands. He might be the team’s third leading rusher behind Ricky Dobbs and Vince Murray.
Strength: Quick backs. Navy is a factory for speed backs with several tailbacks able to work in a rotation and bring quickness and cutting ability. Everyone in the backfield has a seven-yard run in them.
Weakness: Marcus Curry. Suspended for the team for “detrimental conduct” even though he was kept on the team this winter after getting busted for smoking pot, he was the team’s most dangerous running back averaging 7.3 yards per carry, and he tied for the team lead in receiving. While he only caught ten passes, he averaged 28.7 yards per play with three touchdowns.
Outlook: It would’ve been really, really nice to have had Curry in the backfield, but there are plenty of great options, different types of runners, and some great fullbacks to keep the music playing. There’s speed and quickness to burn, but there isn’t a ton of experience. That’s not that big a deal in this offense. The rating is based on expected production more than talent.
Unit Rating: 8

Receivers

Projected Starters: Will Mario Washington be a corner or a wideout? The 6-0, 188-pound senior isn’t necessarily going to be a superstar for a passing game that doesn’t put the ball in the air too often, so there’s a chance he could end up pulling double duty. He caught nine passes for 165 yards while making the biggest impact as a punt returner, but he has the speed to stretch the field and come up with the big play as the team’s most dangerous option.

Mostly a practice squad player throughout his career, senior Greg Jones became a part of the passing game catching six passes for 149 yards and a score, including a key 52-yarder against Notre Dame, and he got a few carries running three times for 34 yards. At 6-0 and 182 pounds, he has relatively decent size, and the former high school quarterback can be used in the backfield as well as a deep threat.

Projected Top Reserves: If and when Mario Washington works at corner, Doug Furman will step in. At 6-3 and 196 pounds, he’s one of the team’s biggest targets and he’s a great athlete who could provide a real, live mismatch. He got on the field last year but didn’t make any plays, missing time with an ankle injury. While he didn’t make any catches, he’s a strong blocker.

A blocker more than a receiver, 5-10, 176-pound senior Mike Schupp came up with six catches for 61 yards, averaging 10.2 yards per carry, and now he’ll work behind Greg Jones. While he doesn’t have anywhere near the speed or the talent of Jones, he’s extremely smart and a good route runner.

Watch Out For … Jones. The more he emerges as a playmaker, the more Washington can be used as a defensive back or in other ways. If he’s not the fastest player on the team, he’s close, and he should be able to average well over 20 yards per catch.
Strength: Yards per catch. The Midshipmen will never come up with a ton of catches, but because of the style of offense and because secondaries cheat up to stop the running game, the opportunities are there to come up with big grabs. Navy receivers, including the backs, only caught 58 passes last year, but they averaged 18.2 yards per play.
Weakness: The offense. When the team can win a game without throwing a pass (13-10 over Wake Forest), that shows the importance of the receivers in the attack. They’re along for the ride.
Outlook: All that matters are the yards per catch. As long as Navy receivers are coming up with one or two big plays a game, and as long as they’re throwing a threat into secondaries, they’re doing their job. They’re all quick and they can all block, and they always take advantage of their opportunities.
Unit Rating: 4

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Back at left tackle is senior Jeff Battipaglia , a 6-5, 256-pound veteran who has started 27 straight games. Good enough to be on the Lombardi Watch List, he’s a great blocker on the move and is as dependable as they come when he has to come up with a big pass block on the few times the offense needs to give the quarterback time. An athlete, he’s terrific and moving to the next level and springing the big play.

With Osei Asante gone at left guard, sophomore Josh Cabral steps in bringing a little bit more time. Extremely physical, the 6-3, 270-pounder will be a road grader for the running game even if he’s not great on the move. Playing next to Battipaglia, he doesn’t have to be perfect, but he’ll be solid.

6-2, 267-pound junior Eric Douglass stepped in late last year and started the final four regular season games. The former nose guard is a good run blocker and is one of the team’s strongest players with tremendous upper body strength. With a little more time, he’s expected to grow into the anchor in the middle over the next two years.

Senior Matt Molloy has been a mainstay on the line for the most of the last two years as a dependable starter at right tackle, and while he’s one of the team’s toughest players, he’s a mediocre pass blocker on the few times the team actually throws. At 6-3 and 260 pounds, he’s not huge and he’s built like a guard, but he’s excellent at finishing off blocks with the attitude and the athleticism for the Navy running game.

A spot starter at guard last year before stepping in at center for the bowl game, junior Brady DeMell is one of the team’s most versatile linemen, along with being the biggest. At 6-3 and 295 pounds, he’s a big load for the interior and is great for the power running game. While he’s not going to be great on the move and he struggles in pass protection, his size is a big plus for the smallish line.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior David Hong has enough experience to step in and start at either guard spot. While Eric Douglass might be the strongest player on the team, Hong might be No. 1A on that list with the ability to push people around for the ground game. He stepped in and started for three games in the middle of last year at right guard, and now the 6-3, 278-pounder will work behind Brady DeMell at right guard.

Bringing a bit more beef at left tackle is junior Ryan Basford , a 6-5, 270-pound former defensive end is just now starting to grow into a role on the line. He’s big and physical, and if he can grow into a solid pass blocker, he’ll see more action in the rotation.

Watch Out For … Douglass to grow into the role at center. He was terrific starting against Notre Dame and he has the strength and the talent to become a key blocker in the middle of the line. He might not be huge, but no one will ever push him around.
Strength: Getting on the move. It’s not that this group will push anyone over, the size just isn’t there, but the synchronicity is a thing of beauty when everything is working right. All it takes is a few wall-off blocks and the right angles for the running game to work, and this ultra-smart, athletic line knows how to spring the big play.
Weakness: Pass protection. It’s not that they don’t try; they’re just not any good at it. The linemen are small, quick, and relatively agile, and they can’t pass block a lick. The Midshipmen quarterbacks attempted 110 passes last year and were sacked 22 times. While some of that was due to technically getting caught in the right spot on a running play, and some of that was due to the quarterbacks waiting so long to let the deep route develop, getting dropped 20% of the time on pass plays is unacceptable.
Outlook: There’s enough starting experience up front, led by two excellent, veteran tackles, to expect more production this year. The interior will be fine with a little bit of time, Battipalgia and Molloy know what they’re doing, and the pieces are there to lead the way for 300 rushing yards per game.
Unit Rating: 6

- 2010 Navy Preview | 2010 Navy Offense
- 2010 Navy Defense | 2010 Navy Depth Chart
- Navy Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006