View from the Booth

Pete Medhurst offers his views on Navy and the rest of the college football landscape for the week of October 1st.

Duke coach Ted Roof is praising Navy's passing game.  Virginia coach Al Groh thinks Maryland's best offensive player is its punter, and just when you think you can count Tennessee out, Phil Fulmer shows why he is a good football coach after all. Most of all though, with a few years of critics in its stead, the Big Ten is back in a big way, but not because of who you think.

What a wacky season already in college football. Fans in Miami, Baton Rouge, Norman, and Ann Arbor think the season is over. I mean if its not the BCS it's just BS.

As always with this being a Navy-related site, we start with Navy and Duke. Yes, you remember Navy, the football team that went 10-2 a year ago, started off this season with two tough three-point losses?

Well, by the time Saturday's 1:00pm kickoff takes place at an empty Wallace Wade Stadium, Navy will have not played in 21 days.

For a team that needs as many reps as it can get, a long layoff was not needed. Paul Johnson has hinted in different tones of voice that you may see two quarterbacks on Saturday. If you know the head man at all though, if Lamar Owens is not tired, I don't think he's coming out. Teams who have set out to play two quarterbacks have been burned this year. See, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Ohio State just to name some big names.

However, his answer was correct in saying Navy has had to play two quarterbacks in the first two games, but that was not his intention!

For the Mids, it will encounter a Duke team feeling its oats about being physical with a Virginia team for a half last week. Navy must find a way to not give up the big play as it has done in the first two ball games.

"We have done a great job statistically in some good categories, but when we have had a chance to get off the field, we have given up big plays to keep drives going and we have to do a better job getting off the field,'' Navy Defensive Coordinator Buddy Green said on Wednesday.

Duke, which defeated 1-AA VMI two weeks ago, is well aware of Navy offense.

"We've done a good job for the most part on defense except when in tough field position. This offense (Navy's) though forces you to be disciplined at all times. If you make a mistake, they read you and they attack where you leave a gap,'' Roof said.

For Duke it is still tough times though. Small crowds, and imagine this, on the ACC Coaches Conference Call this week, Coach Roof got exactly two questions after his opening statement. Talk about no one caring. Geez, media people always need something to write about.

Keys for Navy:
1. Owens playing all the snaps. L.O. has to overcome the physical problems causing him to exit ball games, or he may force Paul Johnson's hand at QB.
2. Fullback success. Hall or Ballard, someone please step forward and go forward.
3. The defense is playing against a team who can't decide who should be quarterback. They cannot allow early success or Duke will gain confidence.

Duke Keys:
1. Every coach who plays Navy says we must be disciplined on defense. Ok, if it's that simple, how come few can stop the offense?
2. A good start on both sides of the ball. A perennial loser can easily gain a losing feeling if it does not have success early.
3. One of the quarterbacks must step up and play good football and help Duke in ball security.

I heard Virginia coach Al Groh on the radio this week and in print say glowing things about Maryland's punter Adam Podlesh. The punter?!? Are you for real, coach?  Well, he may be on to something. Podlesh constantly kicked Wake Forest deep in its territory last week and made it difficult for the Demon Deacons to build long sustained drives. He has an NFL leg. Maryland needs this game badly because 0-and-3 at Byrd could spell lights out for the Terps.

Rick Clausen's high school brother may be getting more praise for his physical skills, but the elder Clausen can't be criticized for leadership. Every time they try to replace him, he steps up and plays big. Les Miles is now getting hounded at LSU because Clausen rallied the Vols from a 21-0 hole to win 30-27 in Baton Rouge in overtime. How about the strength shown by Gerald Riggs Jr. on the winning touchdown run?

Minnesota is off to a 4-0 start and served notice this past week against Purdue, whose claim to fame this year was supposed to be defense. Laurence Maroney went over 200 yards on the ground for the Gophers. Much was made about Purdue not having to play Ohio State and Michigan. This just in, they forgot they had to play Minnesota. Look at the top of the Big Ten Standings. Michigan State, Minnesota, and welcome back Penn State. Freshman Derrick Williams from Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, Maryland has made a big impact on the Nittany Lions already. Coach Joe Paterno, who for years believed in a class system, has realized youngsters can help you. Williams certainly is.

This week's fact and opinion:

Fact: This is the last game in the contract for Virginia Tech and West Virginia. That's a shame. Perhaps in the future this could a 12th game scenario.
Opinion: Tech turned the ball over eight times the last time in played in Morgantown. No such luck this time Mountaineer fans. Vick and Company roll. That was Georgia Tech they beat last week, not the Georgia College of Medicine.

Fact: Louisville was the pre-season favorite in the Big East and a top ten-ranked team.
Opinion: After a rout at the hands of South Florida last week, a stunned Louisville will watch West Virginia win the Big East.

Fact: USC is # 1 again.
Opinion: They will not lose to Arizona State, but their loss will come later in the season to a storied rival, and I don't mean Notre Dame. Anyone outside of Los Angeles know who Karl Dorrell is?

Fact: The Rose Bowl is the host for this year's title game.
Opinion: If the Harris Poll Idaho voters don't screw it up, Virginia Tech and Texas will be playing in it. OK, OK, it's just the first weekend in October.


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