Navy Debrief: UMass
That said, if Navy expects to be an ugly 3-0 they have a lot of work to do this week in practice. Here's the position grades for week 2.
Saturday's game was a buffet of errors from the quarterback position. It was actually sort of impressive to see how many different ways an option quarterback can screw up in one game. Interception, missed handoff, bad pitches, missed reads, fumbles… Variety is the spice of life, although we prefer our spices to be a bit less bitter. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada showed a hint of what excites Navy fans on his touchdown run, but didn't look ready for the spotlight overall and couldn't get a pass beyond the line of scrimmage. This was clearly a game that everyone would rather forget.
Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. It would be easier to chalk this up to just being "one of those days" if the problems were random. But they weren't; Brian Hampton is tentative on almost every play and appears to lack confidence in what he's doing. That's what is leading to the mistakes.
So it's gut check time. The cold reality is that if this Navy team is going to meet the goals it set for itself this season, it is going to be with Brian Hampton at quarterback. He is #1 on the depth chart for a reason. It is time for him to start playing like it. Navy has considerable weapons at slotback and wide receiver, but they are useless without a quarterback who can get them the ball at the right time. Brian Hampton can do that. He has shown it in practice. Now he must show it on the field.
The inside push that the fullbacks were able to deliver against ECU wasn't there against UMass. Matt Hall's touchdown run was a thing of beauty, but it was also the only noise that the fullbacks were able to make all afternoon.
The slots looked great on the first drive. Shun White and Reggie Campbell both averaged 12 yards per carry. After that, though, the slots were not much of a factor in the game. Zerbin Singleton fumbled a pitch that was bad, but still could have been caught.
Wide Receivers: C
Well, Jason Tomlinson caught a ball. But other than that, the receivers didn't really factor into the game either.
Offensive Line: B-
Not nearly the dominating performance that we saw against ECU, but certainly good enough to have led to more points on the board. The sack on the first play was ugly, but after that it was a pretty consistent day. This unit is good, and can be the backbone of a very successful year if the quarterback play improves.
Defensive Line: B-
John Chan had another solid day, registering nine tackles including a sack on what was apparently a busted play. Larry Cylc added another 6 of his own. The quarterback pressure that we saw against East Carolina wasn't there, but it was a fundamentally sound performance.
The B grade here is really the average of a first half C and a second half A. Some uncharacteristic missed tackles in the first half allowed UMass running back Steve Baylark to average 4 yards per carry for the game and pile up 84 rushing yards. But in the second half, the linebacking corps did a much better job of filling its gaps and preventing the big 7-8 yard running plays that we saw in the first half. Rob Caldwell and Clint Sovie led the way with 9 tackles apiece, while David Mahoney chipped in for 6 of his own. Caldwell's forced fumble (recovered by Tyler Tidwell) was the play of the game.
Another tale of two halves. The secondary sacrifices aggressiveness in the Navy defensive scheme in order to prevent the big play. But in the first half the defense gave up long pass plays of 39 and 37 yards, the latter being J.J. Moore's touchdown reception. But two second half interceptions from Keenan Little and DuJuan Price redeemed the unit. Jeremy McGown had 8 tackles, but struggled in coverage for much of the afternoon. A very stiff challenge awaits in Palo Alto next weekend.
Special Teams: D+
The "plus" is for Reggie Campbell's crucial 72-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. But outside of that, Jason Tomlinson fumbled on a muffed return, Matt Harmon missed a chip-shot field goal, and only the watchful eyes of a referee prevented the opening kickoff from being returned for a touchdown. Greg Veteto's punts are all line drives, but Navy's punt coverage has thus far been up to the challenge.
Stanford is reeling right now, having been thumped by Oregon and losing a shootout to Bay Area rival San Jose State. But they can still score points, and the Navy offense needs to be firing on all cylinders in order to keep up. If they aren't, it's going to be a long night for the Blue and Gold.
-Navy's 289 yards of total offense was its lowest total since Oct. 16, 2004, when Navy compiled 260 yards in a 27-9 loss to Notre Dame.
-Next week's game versus Stanford will now be televised by MASN in addition to Fox Sports Bay Area.
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