Sports

2011 College Football Preview: Navy Midshipmen

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2010 Season Breakdown

Final record (overall, conference): 9-4, N/A
Bowl game: Poinsettia Bowl (L, 35-14 vs. San Diego State)
Final ranking (AP, Coaches’): NR, NR
Conference finish: N/A
Offensive rank: 38th
Defensive rank: 75th

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2010 Individual Statistics Leaders

Rushing: Ricky Dobbs, 967 yards, 14 TD
Passing: Ricky Dobbs, 1,527 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT
Receiving: Greg Jones, 662 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Tyler Simmons, 131 tackles
Sacks: Billy Yarborough, 6 sacks
Interceptions: Six tied with 1 INT

2011 Schedule (all games Saturday unless noted)
*denotes conference game

September 3 vs. Delaware [3:30 PM ET]
September 10 @ Western Kentucky [7:00 PM ET]
September 17 @ South Carolina [6:00 PM ET, ESPN2]
October 1 vs. Air Force [3:30 PM ET]
October 8 vs. Southern Miss [3:30 PM ET]
October 15 @ Rutgers
October 22 vs. East Carolina [3:30 PM ET]
October 29 @ Notre Dame [3:30 PM ET]
November 5 vs. Troy [3:30 PM ET]
November 12 @ Southern Methodist
November 19 @ San Jose State [4:00 PM ET]
December 10 vs. Army [2:30 PM ET]

Key Matchups

September 17 @ South Carolina: After matchups against Delaware and Western Kentucky, the Midshipmen will be put to the test against the favorites to win the SEC East.

October 1 vs. Air Force: The Falcons could be the Mountain West’s surprise team and the next non-AQ darlings.

October 29 @ Notre Dame: These teams will meet in Dublin for the 2012 opener, but for now they’ll have to settle for a key midseason matchup in South Bend.

December 10 vs. Army: Navy has owned this matchup over the past decade. As is tradition, it will be the only college game of the weekend.

Key Departed Players

Ricky Dobbs, QB; Greg Jones, WR; Jeff Battipaglia, OT; Billy Yarborough, DL; Tyler Simmons, LB; Aaron McCauley, LB; Jerry Hauburger, LB; Kevin Edwards, CB; Wyatt Middleton, S

Key Returning Players

Alexander Teich, FB; Gee Gee Greene, RB; Jabaree Tuani, DE; Kwesi Mitchell, CB

Offensive Overview

The offense returns a very deep backfield led by fullback Alexander Teich and slotback Gee Gee Greene, but loses star quarterback Ricky Dobbs—who was the Midshipmen’s biggest offensive weapon a year ago. However, Kriss Proctor was very good in the spring and the transition to the new quarterback appears to be well on the right track. The offensive line returns intact—minus experienced tackle Jeff Battipagli—after paving the way for the nation’s sixth-ranked rushing offense. Aaron Santiago is expected to be a big part of the rushing game in addition to Teich, Greene and Proctor. Leading receiver Greg Jones is gone, and Brandon Turner is the leader among the returning receivers having caught four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown a year ago.

Defensive Overview

While the offense returns most of the starters from a year ago, the defense has plenty of empty spots to fill. Linebackers Jerry Hauburger graduated and Aaron McCauley left the team, opening spots at the outside linebacker positions. Leading tackler Tyler Simmons needs to be placed on the inside, too. Jarred Shannon and Mason Graham are listed as the starters on the outside, while co-starters are listed at both inside spots. Up front, Jabaree Tuani returns after recording 5.5 sacks a year ago, and Josh Dowling-Fitzpatrick is listed at the other end spot where he would step in for Billy Yarborough. Like the linebacker corps, the secondary is an area with some question marks, too. Tra’ves Bush received good reviews in the spring as he looks to replace Wyatt Middleton at Rover. The competition to replace cornerback Kevin Edwards continues, while Kwesi Mitchell is the only returning starter in the secondary.

Beat Writer’s Take

I’ve asked beat writers and alumni from around the country to give their take on the local team heading into the 2011 season. The following is an excerpt from a preview written in the spring by Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital. It appears here with permission from the author. 

“On the surface, Navy had another successful season in 2010. The Midshipmen won nine games, knocked off Notre Dame for the second straight year, defeated archrival Army for the ninth straight season and appeared in the Poinsettia Bowl.

“Navy has now put together eight straight winning seasons capped by bowl berths. That is easily the longest such stretch in the modern history of a program that began way back in 1879.

“However, there was one major blemish on Navy’s ledger a year ago. The Midshipmen lost to Air Force for the first time since 2003, and thus had to relinquish control of the coveted Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Navy held that piece of hardware that represents service academy dominance for a record seven straight years.

“On April 18, the day Air Force visited the White House for the formal presentation of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, Navy was conducting its last padded practice of spring camp. Fullback and offensive team captain Alexander Teich addressed the team before practice and said the Mids must rededicate themselves to reclaiming the CIC.

“‘Winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is the number one goal of our program. It’s hard to consider 2010 a success considering we allowed Air Force to take that away,’ Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ‘We are determined to get back something valuable that we lost. We have to raise the bar and work even harder to get that trophy back.’

“Navy graduated record-setting quarterback Ricky Dobbs along with eight starters on defense. However, the Midshipmen have proven over the past decade they can easily replace individual parts and keep the victory machine rolling”

Top Draft Products

Alexander Teich, FB

Season Prediction

Dobbs was considered by some an early Heisman candidate last season and his presence will be missed, but it’s not an insurmountable dagger for this Navy team with bowl-game expectations. Proctor should do well in Navy’s system, and the deep backfield and experienced offensive line should help the transition. The biggest question marks for the Midshipmen are on the defensive side of the ball where the linebacker corps and secondary will see a lot of turnover. Replacing Middleton at Rover may be the toughest job of all, but some of the younger players have received good reviews in the spring and if they step up during the season, there’s no reason Navy shouldn’t go bowling again.

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