Veteran secondary boosts Navy

It is no surprise that when someone is looking for the reason for Navy's recent success on the gridiron that the conversation usually begins with the offense. And if you are looking for someone affiliated with Navy's defense to have a problem with that, well, you may be looking for awhile. For one, Navy's secondary coach, Joe Speed, was going to have none of that.

"If the media wants to reflect more upon the offense, or the defense, or more upon the special teams it definitely has the right to do so," said Speed.

"I remember when I was a player that things weren't so good. I mean you couldn't say anything good about many different facets of our game. For the mere fact that we are getting recognized and winning ballgames, that's all the satisfaction I think the team needs," he said.

The lone Naval Academy graduate on the coaching staff, Speed is well aware of the darker days of Navy football. In his four years as a starting safety from 1992-1995, Navy had a combined record of 13-31. To compare, in Navy's past 18 games, they have matched that win total (13-5).

It wasn't until his senior season in 1995 that Speed and the Navy team started to get a taste of success. However, even with the head coaching change (George Chaump to Charlie Weatherbie) the core players on defense were the same – so why the success?

"I don't remember being on the field as much when I was a senior," said Speed.

"That in of itself says that we were starting to do the right thing on offense. When we went down to SMU (33-2 victory) and had a good outing against them, it was something we hadn't experienced in a long time. I think we hit our stride that game both offensively and defensively."

So how does the current Navy secondary stack-up with the 1995 team?

"I would say that it is comparable. We've got guys who are hungry to win and who are selfless and are willing to do anything for the team."

So would Joe Speed be a starter on the current Navy defense?

"I'd be in the mix," said Speed.

This is Speed's second tenure as a member of the Navy football coaching staff, and so far, for the most part, so good.

In reference to the East Carolina game, Speed said, "The good is we got the ‘W'….the bad - there is no bad because we have a lot of things to learn from."

Some of the areas Speed said the defense will focus on this week are tackling, seeing your keys and breaking on the football, or as he puts it, "normal first game things."

"We had a good team effort…we had guys running to the ball that were able to cover for some individual errors. With good team defense, we were able to make it through this game and hopefully we will be able to improve in the next game."

Up next, the University of Massachusetts (1-0), who is coming off an impressive 28-7 victory over rival Colgate.

"They are a physical ball team…they look good on film," said Speed. "They have a talented sophomore quarterback and they have some tall, speedy receivers who can get down the field and try and make you miss. It will definitely be a challenge."

With three senior starters, Keenan Little, DuJuan Price and Jeremy McGown in the secondary, Speed is confident that rising sophomores Ketric Buffin and Rashawn King are learning the right way to prepare for each opponent.

"(The seniors) definitely set the bar high and set a good example for the younger guys to emulate. They are out on the practice field early and staying afterwards to get in some extra work. Hopefully the younger guys will pick that up and continue to fuel the defensive backfield," said Speed.

For Speed, who was a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, the decision to apply for the opening on the Navy coaching staff was an easy one.

"I wanted to continue to help the program. Knowing where we came from, I just want to continue to do my part to keep the ship afloat."


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