Mids At A Glance

August 30, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT

Coach: Paul Johnson (fifth season)

Last year: 8-4

Conference: Independent

Radio: 1090 AM, 1430 AM, 1370 AM (season opener)

Stadium: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial (34,000)

Tickets: $28, $20, $10 (kids 12 and under)

Parking: Call 1-800-US4-NAVY

Offense: Spread

Defense: Multiple

Top returning players: QB Brian Hampton, SB Reggie Campbell, C James Rossi, FB Adam Ballard, LB David Mahoney, LB Rob Caldwell, CB Jeremy McGown, DE John Chan, K Joey Bullen

Top newcomers: CB Blake Carter, WR Curtis Sharp, NG Nate Frazier, S Jeromy Miles

Strengths: Besides having the nation's top ground game in two of the past three seasons, this is the most experienced team of the Johnson era. Sixteen starters return - eight each on offense and defense - and the Mids could start 15 seniors. The senior class has a 26-11 record over the past three seasons, and could become the first class to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy four consecutive years.

Weaknesses: Navy's lack of size will always be problematic, particularly on defense. Depth at receiver could be an issue, with sophomore Tyree Barnes (knee) struggling to get healthy and junior Kyle Kimbro (knee) having left the team. And Johnson is crossing his fingers regarding the punting game, since neither Greg Veteto nor Ethan Gouge has kicked in a college game.

Strongest opponent: Surprise, surprise, it's Notre Dame. The Irish have won 42 straight against the Mids, and with coach Charlie Weis in control in South Bend with a team that looks set to compete for a national championship, the streak appears safe.

Key game: Air Force. This Oct. 7 road contest, crucial in terms of the CIC trophy quest, should be pivotal for other reasons. A fourth straight win over their service academy rivals probably puts the Mids in good midseason position to secure another bowl bid. Navy has won each of the past three meetings by a field goal.

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