NAVY FOOTBALL 2008 Olde Poolie’s Prognosis August 23, 2008

The “Era of Paul Johnson” is over. After six great years whereby Paul Johnson accomplished more with less talent than any other coach; Navy will start with a new coach. Athletic Director Chet Gladchuck did not hesitate to name long-time Johnson assistant Ken Niumatalolo as Navy’s new head coach. Johnson was announced as the new coach of Georgia Tech on December 7 and the next day, Gladchuck named Niumatalolo (42 years old) as Navy’s new coach. With the naming of Niumatalolo, most of the assistant coaches opted to stay at the Naval Academy. Paul did persuade three assistants to join him at Ga. Tech. Niumatalolo played quarterback at Hawaii while Johnson was the offensive coordinator there and has coached under PJ for 11 years. Ivan Jasper, formerly the quarterback coach, also played and coached under Johnson. He has been promoted to offensive coordinator. The continuity of the coaching staff ensures that the Midshipmen will continue to use the triple-option offense that was so successful under Paul Johnson.

There are some definite questions as to Navy’s 2008 football season. Can the “revised” coaching staff continue the winning ways? Can Navy’s offense repeat as one of, if not, the top ground gainer in 2008? Some good players graduated and the coaching staff must find adequate replacements. This year’s schedule is not easy. Every team on the schedule has the potential to beat the Midshipmen. Most of the teams - like Duke, Wake Forest, SMU, Air Force, Temple, Notre Dame and Army will be improved. The Midshipmen have to play every game, in fact every play, with complete intensity to have a winning season.

Offense. Ivan Jasper will be calling the plays. It starts up front and Navy returns only two offensive linemen who started last year. A tackle, 295 lb Ricky Moore, has been moved to center. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada returns as the starting quarterback. Senior Jerod Bryant is the back-up but has also been working at slot-back. The coaches like his running and want to get the ball in his hands. Soph. Ricky Dobbs is the third QB in the mix but lacks experience. There are experienced wide receivers. Eric Kettani (233 lbs) returns at FB. Shun White returns at one slot-back. There are a number of talented, and experienced, backs competing for the back-up slot-back and FB positions. If the offensive line comes together - the offense should grind out good yardage.

Defense. Last year, Navy’s defense ranked just about last in every category in Div. 1. Olde Poolie believes that the defense will be much improved in 2008. Jr. Nate Frazier (nose-tackle) and LE Michael Walsh both started last year. Clint Sovie (ILB) and Jeff Deliz (Rover) were both hurt in the second game last year and missed the rest of the season. Both are healthy. Because of injuries D/C Buddy Green played a bunch of young guys in the defensive secondary last year. They return with valuable experience. Good experience at the line-backer positions also.

Kicking. Matt Harmon returns as the place-kicker. Freshman Jon Teague will kick-off. Sophs. Kyle Delahooke and Joe Buckley are competing for the punter. I think Navy punted less than any other school last year. Niumatalolo has some speedy runners that will be the punt return and kick-off return men.

Navy has sold over 24,000 season tickets for 2008 - a new record.

Opponents and comments. (Last year’s record)

Aug. 30 Towson (3-8) (Located north of Baltimore). Anxious to impress at Annapolis. Midshipmen should win by three TDs.
Sept. 5 at Ball State [Fri.] (7-6) Returns lots of lettermen. Lost to Nebraska by 1 pt. last year. Will be a tough game in Muncie, Indiana.
Sept. 13 at Duke (1-11). New coach. Unknown. But gave Navy fits last year (43-46).
Sept. 20 Rutgers (8-5) Will be tough. Rutgers will be favored.
Sept. 27 at Wake Forest (9-4) Picked No. 2 in ACC. Will be hard to win in Winston-Salem
Oct. 4 at Air Force (9-4) Only returns 3 offensive starters. Will be pumped to beat Navy.
Oct. 18 Pittsburgh (5-7) HOMECOMING. Ranked as high as 25 in pre-season. Beat W. Va in Morgantown last year. Toss-up
Oct. 25 SMU (1-11) New coach June Jones (Hawaii). Will throw a lot. Navy should win..
Nov. 1 Temple (4-8) will be improved. Navy should win.

Nov. 15 Notre Dame (3-9) (Balt.) Can the Midshipmen repeat? Maybe?
Nov. 25 At No. Illinois (2-10) (Tues.Nite) Navy should win but it won’t be easy.

Dec. 6 Army (3-9) (Phil.) Army is switching to multi-option offense and will be improved and hungry.


2008 Navy Schedule

Aug. 30 Towson 3:30 pm (CSN)
Sept. 5 at Ball State (Fri.) 7 pm (ESPN)
Sept. 13 at Duke 12:00 pm
Sept. 20 Rutgers 3:30 (CSN)
Sept. 27 at Wake Forest TBA
Oct. 4 at Air Force 4:00 pm
Oct. 18 Pittsburgh 3:30 pm (CSN)
Oct. 25 SMU 3:30 pm (CSN)
Nov. 1 Temple 3:30 (CSN)
Nov. 15 Notre Dame (Balt.) 12:00 Noon (CBS)
Nov. 25 at Northern Illinois (Tues) 7 pm (ESPN2)
Dec. 6 Army (Phil.) 12:00 Noon (CBS)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Years ago, the Muncie, IN, school was known as Ball State Teachers College. My, how times have changed. The WNAV web site has been vastly improved this year. I forgot the game was on Saturday, but able to watch a rerun yesterday in its entirety.