Navy at a glance

August 30, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg

Coach: Paul Johnson (first season)

Last year: 0-10

Conference: Independent

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Stadium (capacity): Navy-Marine Corps Memorial (30,000)

Offense: Spread option

Defense: 4-3

Top returning players: QB Craig Candeto, RB Tony Lane, DT Josh Brindel, S Lenter Thomas, LB Eddie Carthan, OL Grant Moody, OL Matt Nye, P John Skaggs

Top newcomers: FB Kyle Eckel, WR Amir Jenkins, CB Vaughn Kelley

Strengths: Johnson is a proven winner. He went 62-10 at Georgia Southern, and helped take both Hawaii and Navy to bowl games as an offensive coordinator. Candeto is a talented athlete, and Eckel is a powerful runner with the potential to rumble for a lot of yards in Johnson's system.

Weaknesses: The Mids don't have a lot of speed, and their secondary hasn't looked sharp during scrimmages. Navy gave up 34.4 points a game last year, 243 yards a game on the ground, and statistically the Mids were the worst team in the country against the pass. (Navy ranked 115 out of 115 teams in passing efficiency defense.) Defensive coordinator Buddy Green, who coached last year at N.C. State, will need to work on that if Navy is to improve its record.

Strongest opponent: Boston College. Navy's Nov. 9 game against Notre Dame in Baltimore will get all the hype, but the Oct. 19 meeting with the Eagles in Boston will likely be the Mids' toughest test.

Key game: Navy's regular-season finale against Army is always going to be the game, but the Mids' homecoming against Duke on Sept. 28 will serve as a good indication of how the season is going to go. The Blue Devils have lost 23 straight, and both teams could be awfully hungry for a victory.

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