Five storylines for the Navy football team

September 01, 2010|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

RICKY THE RECORD-BREAKER: A year after scoring 27 touchdowns and setting the single-season NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback -- breaking the mark held by former Florida star Tim Tebow and Air Force's Chance Harridge -- senior Ricky Dobbs needs 25 more to break the career mark set by Nebraska's Eric Crouch. Both Tebow and Crouch won the Heisman Trophy. Dobbs will likely finish as Navy's all-time leader in touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, points and yards per pass attempt.

HAIL TO THE CHIEFS: Navy probably should have lost its streak of wins over service academy teams against Air Force last year in Annapolis -- the Falcons missed a 31-yard field goal to win in overtime -- but will go into this year's game in Colorado Springs, Colo., with 15 straight. Considering how close Air Force came a year ago, this year's matchup Oct. 2 could be Navy's biggest game of the year. While it comes in a stretch of three straight road games, Navy does have an extra week to prepare.

THE A TEAM: After a run of explosive A backs that included Reggie Campbell, Shun White and Marcus Curry, Gee Gee Greene appears to be the next in line. Curry's departure from the academy this spring for a series of violations speeded up the timetable, but Greene averaged more than 6 yards a carry as a freshman. The Midshipmen also have depth at this position, and junior Aaron Santiago figures to be in the mix as well.

DEFENSE HAS ITS STARS: While Dobbs is getting most of the preseason attention for several prestigious awards, and fullback Vincent Murray should also receive his share of attention, Navy's defense has its share of game-changers. The Midshipmen have watched defensive end Jabaree Tuani grow from a 230-pound plebe who was among the nation's top freshmen to a 265-pound junior who could be in line for his own postseason awards. Safety Wyatt Middleton has NFL potential and genes (his brother William, a star at Furman, now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars).

PASSING FANCY: After the quarterbacks threw 39 passes in the team's first scrimmage, there was buzz that third-year coach Ken Niumatalolo had tossed aside the playbook he inherited from Paul Johnson. Navy won't become Texas Tech, and Niumatalolo is not going to turn into Mike Leach. But the former backup quarterback at Hawaii is going to take advantage of Dobbs' strong arm and the fact that defenses are geared to stopping the option. Look for the Midshipmen to raise their passing attempts to the low teens, according to the coach. DateOpponentLocationTimeSept. 6MarylandM&T Bank Stadium4Sept. 11Georgia SouthernNavy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium3:30Sept. 18Louisiana TechRuston, La.7Oct. 2Air ForceColorado Springs, Colo.2:30Oct. 9Wake ForestWinston-Salem, N.C.TBAOct. 16SMUNavy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium3:30Oct. 23Notre DameEast Rutherford, N.J.12Oct. 30DukeNavy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium3:30Nov. 6East CarolinaGreenville, N.C.3:30Nov. 13Central MichiganNavy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium3:30Nov. 20Arkansas StateNavy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium3:30 Dec. 11ArmyPhiladelphia2:30

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