Navy Coaching vs. North Texas Coaching
I’ve never seen Coach Johnson show as much emotion as he did at the end
of last week’s game. The smiling, jumping, hugging version of Coach
Johnson was a welcome change, especially in conjunction with such a
monumental win. Beating Notre Dame could change the program, but only if
the team can refocus and continue winning. Coach Green spent the game
upstairs in the coach’s box. This was in order to give him a better
view of the field. Coach Johnson announced that Coach Green would
continue coaching for upstairs for the time being.
Todd Dodge is just the second coach in recent memory to make the jump
directly from High School Head Coach to Division I Head Coach. In 1992
and 1993, Coach Dodge was passing game coordinator for North Texas.
Form 2000 till 2006 he was the headman at Southlake Carroll High School.
From 2002 to 2006 he compiled a 79-1 record and won four Texas state
championships. The one loss was by a single point in the 2003 state
championship game. Dodge brings a high-powered passing attack to Denton
as the Mean Green currently rank 12th in the country in passing
averaging 297.9 yards per game.
Navy Offense vs. North Texas Defense
With Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada now the answer to a trivia question, the
next question is “What’s next?” He now must steady this team through a
three game stretch against teams with a combined 5-21 record. Kaipo
finished the Notre Dame thriller with 12 carries for 47 yards and 6 of 8
passing for 81 yards and a touchdown. His final two pass attempts
were the 25-yard touchdown to Reggie Campbell and the two-point
conversion, also to Reggie.
Speaking of Reggie, he finished with 9 carries for 62 yards, but had
several key blocks. His only receptions were the final two players of
the game. Fullback Eric Kettani led the team with 20 carries for 70
yards and 2 touchdowns. His lone reception was on the first play of the
first overtime, which helped setup a Navy touchdown. Both Shun White and
Zerbin Singleton had touchdowns.
The offensive line held up well against a much bigger opponent. Paul Bridgers made his second career start and will stay at the top of the
depth chart. With wide receiver Greg Sudderth out for the year with a
broken right ankle, juniors T.J. Thiel and Curtis Sharp will need to step
The Mean Green defense is much maligned. They currently rank 107th in
rushing defense (209.4 yards per game), 112th in pass defense (288.6
yards per game), 116th in total defense (498 yards per game) and 119th in
scoring defense (46.5 yards points per game). Defensive end Jeremiah Chapman and defensive tackle Montey Stevenson are the only linemen to
have started all 8 games this season. Chapman has 38 tackles and leads
the team with 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Stevenson currently
has 34 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He was named Sun
Belt Defensive player of the week for his 10 tackle, 1.5 sack performance
in the win over UL-Monroe. Time has been split between Eddrick Gilmore and Blake Buruss at end while Joseph Miller and Isaac Thomas have
both started at the other tackle. Miller is second on the team with 3
Middle linebacker Derek Mendoza is tied for the team lead with 49
tackles. He forced a career high 2 fumbles against Troy. Maurice Holman
has started every game at one outside backer spot. He is third on the
team with 42 tackles. Both Craig Robertson and Brandon Monroe have
started at the other linebacker position. Robertson leads North Texas with 3
Safety Aaron Weathers is tied with Derek Mendoza with 49 tackles. He
leads the team with two fumble recoveries. Weathers is trying to become
the first payer in North Texas history to lead the team in tackles for
three consecutive seasons. Cornerback Antoine Bush is tied for the
team lead with 6 pass breakups. Safety Kartey Agbottah is currently
fourth on the team in tackles with 41. Latif Nurudeen is taking over for
Dominique Green at the other corner spot. Nurudeen started the first
two games of the year. Green, who had started the last 6 games at
corner, was suspended due to an incident that occurred on the sideline during
the Middle Tennessee game.
North Texas Offense vs. Navy Defense
North Texas has used two quarterbacks thus far this season. Daniel Meager started the first four games while Giovanni Vizza has started the
last four. The freshman Vizza has completed 110 of his 207 pass
attempts for 1,295 yards with 8 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Before he
was pulled in the Arkansas game, Meager was 106 for 167 passing for 1,081
yards with 4 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Since that time he has
only attempted 2 passes, completing one for 7 yards.
Senior Jamario Thomas leads the Mean Green in rushing with 369 yards on
68 carries. He has scored 2 touchdowns on the ground. Thomas is
backed up by freshman Micah Mosley. Mosley has 271 yards on 59 carries
with 2 touchdowns. Neither has been a big factor in the passing game.
Thomas has 13 receptions for 25 yards and Mosley has 9 catches for 68
yards and a touchdown.
The factor in the passing game is Casey Fitzgerald. The 5’ 11’’ junior
leads the team with 72 catches for 992 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Fitzgerald had a 99-yard touchdown reception against UL-Monroe. He was named
Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week for his astounding 18 catch, 327
yard, 2 touchdown performance verses SMU. The other starting
receivers include Brock Stickler, Brandon Jackson and Sam Dibrell. Jackson is
second on the team with 54 receptions for 613 yards and a touchdown.
Dibrell leads the team in yards per catch averaging 14.2 yards per
The right side of the line has been consistent with center Kelvin Drake, guard Esteban Santiago and tackle Adam Venegas starting all 8 games
this season. The same can not be said on the left side where both Tyler Bailey and Chad Rose have started at guard, while Matt Menard and
Robert Peachey have started at tackle. This week it appears that Coach
Dodge is returning to his opening day lineup with Bailey and Menard
To say that the Navy defense played its best game against Notre Dame
would be a 43-year sized understatement. The defensive line played out
of their minds. Nate Frazier finally showed that he deserved getting
NFL pub during the preseason. Michael Walsh and Chris Kuhar-Pitters had
the games of their lives. Walsh recorded 2 sacks and forced the fumble
the Kuhar-Pitters returned for a touchdown. Frazier led the group
with 8 tackles.
All of the linebackers stepped up. Matt Wimsatt finally had the game
we all knew he was capable of. Nine tackles, a sack and a pass breakup
only start to define the big plays he made all over the field. Then
there is Ram Vela. That leaping play at the end of regulation will be
one of the signature moments of the college football season. Vela has
improved greatly since his insertion into the starting lineup. He is now
making the entire defense better. Tony Haberer, Irv Spencer and Ross Pospisil played well in the middle and are really starting to improve
in coverage. Looking at the depth chart is seams that former point
guard Corey Johnson has been moved to outside linebacker.
The piecemeal secondary made plays when they needed to. Wyatt Middleton continues to make us forget that he is only a plebe. He finished the
game with a team high 14 tackles. He is now only one tackle behind
Irv Spencer for the team lead. Fellow freshman Kevin Edwards made his
first career start. Form the start you could see that the Irish knew he
was there. Most of Notre Dame’s 27 pass attempts went directly at him.
But, he stood tough and made just enough plays to help ensure the
victory. Greg Thrasher seems to have found a spot at safety. He finished
with 10 tackles. Blake Carter rebounded for a mistake at the end of
the first half to almost be the hero of the game, if it were not for
that bogus pass interference penalty. Both Ketric Buffin and Rashawn King
could return this week. Now it seems Navy will finally have some
depth in the secondary.
Navy Special Teams vs. North Texas Special Teams
Special teams turned out to be a key element in Navy ending the Notre
Dame winning streak. Joey Bullen did miss an extra point attempt, but
came back to make 32-yard field goal to force the third overtime.
Punt coverage needs to improve. Tom Zbikowski almost ended the game in
regulation with a big return. Greg Veteto punted twice for a 36-yard
Notre Dane kicked away from Reggie Campbell, and rightly so as he has
almost broken returns all season. Zerbin Singleton finished with 4
returns for 93 yards.
North Texas kicker Thomas Moreland has connected on 6 of his 10 field
goal attempts this season. He has not attempted a kick longer then 39
yards. He has a long of 37.
Punter Truman Spencer is averaging 41.1 yards per punt, but the Mean
Green are having a problem with protection. North Texas has had 3 punts
blocked this season. Spencer also handles kickoffs.
Reserve cornerback Evyn Roman is the primary kick returner. Roman has
handled all 14 punt returns for the Mean Green with an average of 6.3
yards per return. He also leads the team with 15 kickoff returns for an
average of 21.3 yards per. Antoine Bush and Micah Mosley also have
double digit kickoff returns for North Texas, with both averaging over 18
yards per return.