Previewing 2009 Air Force Opponents: Navy Midshipmen

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Previewing 2009 Air Force Opponents: Navy Midshipmen
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Navy game is the first game in the coveted Commander-in-Chief between the service academies, and Navy has defeated the Air Force six straight times, as well as winning the Commander-in-Chief each of the past six years as well.

As everyone knows, the Midshipmen run a triple option offense, which makes them a very dangerous team when they play schools with better athletes.

The Navy does not have the same players as their ACC and Big East neighbors, but with misdirection plays, and running a unique offense allows the Navy to counter against better athletes for a more level playing field.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo, entering his second year season, looks to build on the success of the former coach (currently at Georgia Tech) and also upon his first year at the Navy.

The offense has, what seems, interchangeable parts, with new Cadets graduating and new ones taking over their place. The biggest question this year is on quarterbacks, because the Navy lost its top two quarterbacks and is being replaced by QB/RB Ricky Dobbs. Below is the leading returning state leaders:

Passing Com% YPG TD INT
Ricky Dobbs 56.3 53 1 1
Rushing Carries Yards Yards Per Carry TD
Cory Finnerty 8 71 8.9 1
Ricky Dobbs 106 498 4.7 8
Bobby Doyle 16 169 10.6 1
Receiving Catches Yards Yards Per Catch TD
Mario Washington 3 56 18.7 0
Mike Schupp 1 14 14 0
School TOTAL Commits Commits Commits Avg Stars Points
1 Utah 25 1 2 14 2.84 886
2 TCU 20 0 4 12 3.00 827
3 BYU 21 0 2 14 2.86 640
4 UNLV 22 0 0 8 2.36 179
5 Wyoming 25 0 0 4 2.16 154
  New Mexico 20 0 0 4 2.20 154
7 Colorado State 21 0 0 5 2.14 85
8 San Diego State 20 0 0 4 2.10 77
9 Air Force 21 0 0 0 1.90 60


These returning numbers are quite low and the mighty Phil Steele created a chart in order of teams with the most offense returning. The Navy returns only 23.2 percent of their offense for the 2009 year, which ranks 118 out of 120.

That also correlates with how experienced this team on offense is in 2009 and is in the bottom ten percent of that category as well. The quarterback position at the Navy is one that needs to be lead by a smart individual who also has speed, like a running back, and they need to throw a little bit. Dobbs is the choice because he has the experience at quarterback and running back as he played both last year.

The running game did lose an overwhelming majority of their offense, and with Dobbs moving to quarterback, the leading returning rusher at running back is Bobby Doyle. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was a three year starter for Navy and while experience is gold at the quarterback position, back in 2005 when the Navy had a first time starting quarterback in Lamar Owens and won eight games.

With Dobbs at the helm, the Navy should not worry too much, because this Navy team has had six winning seasons and knows how to win games. The running game will be joined by a few new comers with slot back Marcus Curry and Alex Teich at fullback.

Just because they are new does not mean they will not put up the typical Navy rushing numbers, which, by the way, if one does not know, is a lot. Now while the passing game is not used too often in the Navy arsenal, it is a potent weapon.

Most teams concentrate on the option which sucks in the safeties, and then Navy will throw the deep ball over the top. If Ricky Dobbs is able to perform the over the top pass, and run the offense with new backs then the Navy offense should be its typical self. The Navy defense is putting most of its speed players on that side of the ball in order to counter the offense.

The 2009 Navy defense depth chart lists five positions as co-starters, now this could be a good thing with both players are too good to make a decision during the spring. Or, it could be that neither player has separated themselves to nail down the starting position.

The 2008 defense was middle of the pack nationally by allowing 346 per game, but that number could increase because the 2009 schedule is a little bit more tougher then the 2008 version. Turnover margin is what makes Navy stand out, 2008 the Midshipmen were plus 15 in the turnover margin and out gained opponents on average 1.15 per game.

While the offense maybe inexperienced the defense is loaded with upper class-man, and in the post-spring three deep only eight of thirty-four are Sophomores.

The defense should be just as good as last year with more experienced team, and all opponents including their season opener against Ohio State should be careful of the Midshipmen.

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