Game one of the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, for the Falcons. This mid season game at the Academy will feature first full year head coach Ken Niumatalolo who was an assistant last year under long time coach Paul Johnson who left for Georgia Tech, but Niumatalolo did have a nice showing in the Poinsettia Bowl in a close loss to Utah. There have been rumors of the Navy running the triple option and wishbone this year, but that most likely will be a section of the playbook, so do not expect the Midshipmen to run a full triple option or wishbone. Niumatalolo will keep consistency with the program for eleven years as an assistant, including most recently as offensive coordinator.
Offense: Everyone knows that Navy will run, run, and then run some more. The option is Navy’s choice of offensive attack and then they mix in the ocassional deep pass once the defensive backs are pulled in to help with the option. Navy does return quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada who is a Senior and is very capable of running the option. To run the option well the quarterback must have good timing and know when to pitch or hold the ball themselves and run, which he has. Last season Kaheaku-Enhada ran for 834 yards and 12 touchdowns, and then he also passed for 952 yards. He is looking to go for 1,000 yards passing and recieving which has not been accomplished since 2003 by Craig Candeto.
As for the running tandem Navy will be lead by Senior Fullback Eric Kettani who ran for 882 yards last year in his first year of significant time. Another back that will garner attention is Junior Kevin Campbell who had limited action last year. Navy will play many different backs to give teams different looks from speed backs to the full back dive to keep the defense honest.
Even though passing is not the strong point of Navy, they actually do a very good job of balancing the pass agaisnt the rush. Navy spreads the ball to many different receiveres and backs, and one interesting stat is that the recievers averaged 16.74 yards per catch. That yard per catch is five yards less then the top passing team in the country Texas Tech. Their passing game is quite effective when teams move in their safeties.
Defense: This is not the best aspect of the Navy team, during last season they did give up 36 points per game. That does not give a true representation of their defense, because while Navy does give up a lot of points they also make timely stops. Last season they had three wins by less then a touchdown, because of the defense. Then there was the North Texas game that Navy won 74-62 and the defense made timely stops at the end to perserve the victory. The defense is undersized mainly because the type of athletes Navy gets, but they are fast and play smart football. One thing they need to improve on from last year is wrapping up and finishing tackles and also defending the pass which is something that they struggled with last year.
Early Prediction: This game is always close, and Air Force is looking for revenge after losing on the road last year and having lost five in a row. Air Force has lost too much offense this year and even with Navy having a new coach as of now it is safe to say that Navy will pull this out in a close game that will be within ten points.