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Can Navy go undefeated in 2010?
Ricky Dobbs (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Posted Sep 3, 2010
The 2010 Navy Midshipmen are poised for another tremendous season. Last year's blowout win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl produced the third 10-win season in Navy's history. This year's schedule is less demanding than 2009's slate with the Mids facing only four teams that appeared in bowl games last year. Look inside to see Jim Lawler's prediction for Navy's 2010 season.
The expected marquee games are against
who posted a combined underwhelming record of 13-23 last year. The timing was right in scheduling
since both these conference division champions lost their star offensive players and each have new head coaches. The wide open passing attack of
and fellow service academy
more trouble than the higher profile programs on the schedule.
The Midshipman return six starters on an offense that finished the season ranked fourth in team rushing at 280.9 yards per game while averaging 28-points per game. Navy's defense came of age last year as it ranked 16th in nation in scoring defense. The Mids return their two best defensive players, team captain
and defensive end
. In the kicking game Navy returns first team All-East performer
and one of the best punters in Navy history in
Navy does have concerns. Namely it needs to find replacements for
at slot back, all four starting linebackers and two starters on the offensive line. The good news for Navy is the Mids have the talent and depth to fill their needs. Overall, according to the offseason workouts, this is the fastest team Navy's put on the field in the triple option area.
This can be a special season for Navy. The schedule breaks well for them. If the new linebackers play is solid then the sky’s the limit. There is no team on the schedule that Navy doesn't match up rather well against. A perfect season with
making a run at the Heisman? Navy fans can all hope. I think 10-2 is more likely. It's amazing to see how far this program has risen since 2001 that another eight win season would probably be viewed as a disappointment. Navy has won at least eight games for a school record seven consecutive years. Let's look at each game.
The interstate matchup resumes in the newly named "Crab Bowl". Navy and Maryland meet at M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since 2005. Last year Maryland suffered 10 losses from the first time in their history. Defensive coordinator
’s game plan gave the Mids fits in 2006 when he was head coach at UMass.
is a talented mobile quarterback. He might need to be behind a rebuilt offensive line featuring two walk-ons as starters. Halfback
speed should test the inexperienced Mid linebackers.
Bowl. This date was scheduled when PJ was still coaching. It's a game that features the schools where Johnson first spent time as a very successful offensive coordinator before returning years later to lead the programs to glory as head coach. It was at Georgia Southern with Tracey Ham at quarterback that the spread option was created. Georgia Southern returns this year to their spread option roots under new head coach and former Navy slot back coach Jeff Monken.
The Bulldogs gave the Mids a scare last year when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Navy then scored the next 32 points in a 32-14 win. With Derek Dooley leaving for
offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes takes the reins. Look for Tech to be a more wide open team under Dykes. Dangerous wide receiver and return man
, who has six career returns for touchdowns, is back. Once Navy's offense got rolling last year Tech's defense struggled. The Mids should make it two consecutive wins over Louisiana Tech
At Air Force
Navy travels to Colorado Springs as it tries for its eighth straight win in the series. The last few years have featured bruising defensive battles. The Falcons offense returns all its skill positions but has to rebuild the entire offensive line. Air Force's defense loses its talented coordinator, former Navy assistant coach, Tim DeRuyter to
. Navy's centers will be glad to no longer have to face star nose tackle
. It should be a great game. Navy has had the Falcon’s number.
At Wake Forest
Navy defeated the Demon Deacon in the rain at Annapolis last year behind backup quarterback
. Wake Forest lost long time starting quarterback
to graduation. Defensively
, who had three interceptions last year, is an impact player. Wake Forest is very young and their kicking game is poor but Jim Grobe is one of the better coaches around. Wake Forest will be a challenge on the road but I believe the Mids are the better team.
In two short years run and shoot offensive genius June Jones has rebuilt SMU. The Mustangs dominated
in their first bowl appearance since they returned from the NCAA death penalty. Navy struggled against SMU before defeating them in overtime, 38-35, on a Joe Buckley field goal. Navy has yet to face sophomore quarterback Kyle Pardon. Pardon replaced the injured Bo
and won five of his last six starts throwing for 10 touchdowns. SMU's defense struggles against the run. Other than the
game, Buddy Green's bend but don't break defenses have had problems at times against passing that can spread the field. It will be a shootout and Navy can't win them all. Or can they?
Navy Upset Loss
After forty-three years of futility, Navy has now won two of the last three in the series. New head coach Brian Kelly brings his wide open spread passing game to the Irish. The Irish lack a proven quarterback in the system but Kelly's offenses have always been productive. Star wide receiver
returns. Notre Dame's defense will play a 3-4. With the subway alumni at the new Meadowlands Stadium this will be essentially an Irish home game.
The Mids have defeated Duke four of the last five meetings in exciting wide open games. Navy lost its last appearance at Durham when Kaipo was knocked out of the game. Navy fans are glad to see quarterback
graduate. Lewis completed over 67% of his passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns in three career starts against the Mids. New quarterback
came off the bench ]last year to lead a comeback win against
. Duke’s defense lost their best players from last year.
At East Carolina
After winning consecutive Conference USA titles the, Pirates have a new head coach and new offense. The new coach is Ruffin McNeill from
who brings a more wide open attack to East Carolina. McNeill needs to totally rebuild his defense.
After appearing in four straight bowl games the Chippewas look to be in rebuilding mode. Star quarterback
and his big play receivers,
and Antonio Brown, are gone. CMU under new head coach
will have to overhaul the receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and secondary. Navy defeated CMU 63-34 in 2003.
Arkansas State will bring its new no-huddle passing offense to Annapolis. The Red Wolves return 10 starters on a defense that led the Sun Belt conference in points allowed. Defensive tackle Bryan Hall is one of the best players in the Sun Belt conference. This is the first matchup between the two schools.
Navy has won a series record eight straight times in college football's greatest rivalry.
brought his double eagle flex defense to West Point and produced the 16th ranked defense in the nation last year. The Black Knights return eight starters and should be a very solid defensive team again. Army's offense should be improved but they haven't scored a touchdown against Navy since 2006. The Black Knights are a lot better coached team under Rich Ellerson but they still lack Navy's talent and firepower.
So I see it as a 10-2 regular season with an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Head-to-head: Navy vs. Maryland
Sep 3, 2010
Expectations (Mine) Met
Aug 30, 2010
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Sep 7, 2010
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