The Good: Kriss Proctor has shown that he has breakaway speed and decent command of the offense (124 rushes for 563 yards and 8 TDs). He also has shown that he is durable which is saying something since he has taken several good hits. And although inconsistent at best in the passing game, he has showed improvement over last season –albeit in limited action.
The Bad: On the field, Proctor still doesn't seem very comfortable in the pocket on passing plays. He seems very indecisive and on several occasions it appears as if he has not even looked at wide open receivers – instead focusing on his primary target. Against Rutgers on a crucial second down, Gee Gee Greene was wide open in the corner of the end zone and Proctor didn't even look his way, instead he threw the ball into a heavy coverage. From a running standpoint, when Navy needs a tough yard, Proctor probably isn't their best option. Whereas Ricky Dobbs could plow over a defender with his massive leg strength, Proctor would be better off trying to outrun his opponents or giving the ball to Alexander Teich.
The Grade: Unfortunately, Navy has been behind more than usual which has put Proctor in a position to probably pass more than Ivin Jasper would like. If the Mids had been able to get ahead more often, Proctor's strength (running) would have been on display more. I also think that it is important to factor in Proctor's biggest mistake this season and that was his inexcusable taunting of an Air Force player. All things considered, if Navy wants to turn things around, Proctor will need to show more poise on and off the field.
QUARTERBACK GRADE: C+
The Good: Alexander Teich is a beast and if he is barreling towards a defender, he'll likely make him remember the encounter. He is averaging almost 100 yards per start (97 rushes for 477 yards) and almost single-handedly willed the Mids to victory with a dominant second half against Air Force. In relief of Teich, Delvin Diggs had a solid game against Southern Mississippi. Slot backs John Howell and Gee Gee Greene have both shown big play potential and Howell in particular has a knack for finding the end zone (4 rushing TDs). Bo Snelson and Mike Stukel have also shown some speed on the perimeter.
The Bad: Whatever Teich did to merit a one-game suspension definitely warrants a mention in the bad category. Unless he was planning on playing linebacker against Southern Miss, it probably wouldn't have changed the outcome, but the senior picked a bad time to get on the coach's you-know-what list. The injury to Aaron Santiago has had a major impact in the Mids' big-play potential. It just seems on crucial third downs, there just hasn't been a running back making a spectacular play to keep a drive alive. Of course blocking is a major part of what the running backs do in Navy's offense and from my uneducated eye, (and based on the number of times I have seen slot backs unable to muster even a three yard gain), I'd dare to say it has just been average. Stukel's dropped touchdown pass against Rutgers also gets a mention here because it couldn't have come at a worse time.
The Grade: I wrote last week that I thought Greene should get the ball more – and against Rutgers he did with nine touches for 56 yards. If that trend continues and Teich can find more space, there is a ton of potential for the running backs to have a huge impact in the second half. East Carolina, San Jose State, and Troy should all be big days for Teich and the a-backs. And they will need to make significant contributions in the other games to give Navy a shot to win them.
RUNNING BACK GRADE: B-
The Good: Brandon Turner (7 catches for 156 yards and 2 TDs) and Matt Aiken (7 catches for 119 yards and 1 TD) have been a little better than I expected in terms of overall production, but part of that could be because Navy has been trailing more than in previous years and has been forced to pass more often. After Turner and Aiken, the receiver with the most catches is Casey Bolena (2 catches for 24 yards).
The Bad: Turner and Aiken may come close to matching Greg Jones' 2010 numbers (33 catches for 662 yards) but they have a long way to go to match his production in the clutch. Part of the problem is the significant drop off from Dobbs to Proctor in terms of play-making ability in the passing game, but Jones did a lot on his own in a ton of crucial spots. I couldn't find a stat for dropped passes, but I definitely remember there being quite a few this season – more than in the past. Turner's bobble and drop against Rutgers that led to an interception is the most recent example. And just like with the slot backs, I'm pretty sure their blocking could be better.
The Grade: Maybe I just had a man-crush on Greg Jones and that's why I'm being a bit harsh on this year's receiving corps. But I'll feel a lot better if one of them makes a Jones-like catch when the game is on the line.
WIDE RECEIVER GRADE: C
The Good: They have been relatively healthy. Four out of the Navy's five linemen (Brady DeMell, John Dowd, Josh Cabral, and Ryan Basford) have started all six games. Left tackles Andrew Barker and David Sumrall have had three starts apiece. Overall the Mids are averaging 332 yards on the ground per game which is good enough to rank #4 in the country…(Army is leading the nation).
The Bad: After three solid performances against Delaware, Western Kentucky, and South Carolina, I really think Navy's offensive line has been underperforming. The first half against Air Force and the entire Southern Mississippi game in particular have been as bad of a performance as Navy fans have seen in the past 8 plus years. Southern Mississippi is a good team, but Air Force's defense had no business pushing the Mids around for 30 minutes. In fact there is only one team in the country worse than Air Force against stopping the run. In addition, this unit's ineffectiveness in the red zone is a major reason for Navy's struggles near the goal line. Proctor may not be Dobbs when it comes to getting a much needed yard, but this unit so far isn't reminding Navy fans of the Antron Harper's of the world.
The Grade: I expected the combination of Proctor's speed and four starters returning on the line to have Navy's offense playing a lot faster. However it seems when they get within sight of the goal line, they are going in slow motion. It used to be a rarity where a Navy runner lost yardage on a play. Thus far this season, they have lost 116 yards in 6 games compared to 190 yards in 2010…in 13 games. The team is also having a tougher time than in the past in converting fourth downs…even very makeable ones. The seniors need to step up their game and start winning more battles in the trenches.
OFFENSIVE LINE GRADE: C
Overall Offensive Grade: Statistically speaking, on offense Navy is ahead of where they were at this time last year. The team was only averaging 21 points a game (31 so far in 2011) and 259 yards rushing per game. However, in past years when Navy's defense has been atrocious, fans had come to expect the offense to dig them out of almost any hole. This season, even though the stats are better, it just seems like Navy's offense has dug the team into almost as many holes…particularly in the red zone and to start games. With so many returning starters, there were high expectations on this unit to play fast and to use that experience to stay on the field and keep its much younger defense off of it. I don't know how many times I have heard fans post, "This would be a good time for an 11-play drive by the offense," only to see them go three and out. Considering Navy's defensive problems and the high-scoring teams that are still on the schedule, the Mids' offense will need to play keep away as much as possible. Who will make the plays on those crucial, drive-extending third downs is yet to be seen.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: C+