Ten things to watch Navy-East Carolina

Another year, another bowl win? Another Commander-in-Chief's Trophy? Navy fans hope so. The run starts Saturday when the Midshipmen host East Carolina in their season-opener. Here are 10 things to watch during the big game:

1. Brian in charge
He sounds ready and, more inportantly, looks ready. But the true test for new quarterback Brian Hampton comes against East Carolina.
He's seen game action, but has never started. Hampton follows Craig Candeto, Aaron Polanco and Lamar Owens as Navy's starter. All three were highly succesful.
Now, it's Hampton's turn.

2. Reggie's run
Navy junior slot back Reggie Campbell could be the most dangerous player on the field.
You figure he's primed for a big game after what he did in last year's Poinsettia Bowl. Campbell torched Colorado State for 290 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in a 51-30 Navy win.
Don't expect numbers like that from Campbell against East Carolina, but he still could go off.

3. Going deep
Speaking of dangerous, East Carolina quarterback James Pinkey and wide receiver Aundrae Allison could be one of the best 1-2 combos in the nation.
A JUCO transfer, Allison caught 83 passes for 1,024 yards last season and seven touchdowns. Pinkney threw for 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Both are improved players.

4. Sack attack
If Pinkney has a weakness, it's his mobility. He was one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the nation last season.
Navy's defense, led by linebackers Tyler Tidwell, David Mahoney and Rob Caldwell, is looking to improve this season. Sacking Pinkney a few times would make for a good start.

5. Stopping the option
Stopping the option, come on? Nobody stops Navy's option. But East Carolina's success will depend on how it deals with the Midshipmen's well-oiled scheme. How the machines runs depends on Hampton.

6. Hall of a back
Fullback Matt Hall returns after suffering a horrific knee injury against Notre Dame last season.
Hall was in the midst of a strong junior season, rushing for 493 yards and six touchdowns, when he tore the anterior cruciate and medial cruciate ligaments in his left leg on his first carry against the Fighting Irish last November. He missed the rest of the season.
They don't make them much tougher than Hall. Here's to him running over East Carolina.

7. Stay out of his Hands
Navy's toughest assignment could be stopping East Carolina junior defensive end Marcus Hands.
Hands, who is 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, had 21 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last season. He missed part of last season after sustaining a shoulder injury in November.

8. Tackling machine
You figure Navy linebacker Rob Caldwell is good for at least 10, 11 tackles against East Carolina.
He went for 140 last season. Expect Caldwell to be all over the place again this season, starting with East Carolina. With Navy's defense improved, East Carolina can't just key on Caldwell.

9. Just win, baby!
There's no shame in the fact that Navy opened the season with a 23-20 loss to Maryland in 2005.
But this season is different. There are even higher expectations for Navy with some picking a 10-win season. If that's going to happen, Navy has to beat East Carolina, which they wil.

10. The final score
Mr. Reliable, A.K.A. Navy kicker Joey Bullen, kicks three field goals. He was the sprint team kicker just two years ago.
Navy overcomes some early nerves and wins 30-21.

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