Hall Ready to Return to Winning – Navy Style

Overcoming a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus – check. Overcoming the sometimes breathtaking effects of asthma – check. Overcoming the defensive front of Stanford – not quite yet. Fortunately for fullback Matt Hall he gets another opportunity to add a check in the box this Saturday as Navy plays Stanford for the second year in a row.

Last year, Stanford shut down Navy's inside running game, holding Hall (6 carries for 12 yards) and teammate Adam Ballard (13 carries for 39 yards) to only 2.5 yards per rush.

"I think I might still have nightmares about their nose tackle they had last year," said Hall. I think he is in the NFL now. I'm sure they probably have just as good of a guy to replace him but that guy last year was eating us alive. He was a great ballplayer."

Indeed, the 2006 NFL draft claimed not just former Stanford nose tackle, Babatunde Oshinowo (6th round – Cleveland Browns) but defensive end Julian Jenkins (5th round – Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as well.

Their replacements have not faired as well so far this season as Stanford is last in the nation in stopping the run, allowing 320 yards on the ground per game. However, after putting the ball on the ground seven times last week against UMass, Hall and his teammates are probably more worried about stopping themselves right now.

"We played pretty pitiful. I know we can do so much better than that. It was definitely us hurting ourselves," said Hall.

As far as where the UMass game ranks in terms of poor offensive performances by Navy during his career, Hall responded, "We have had some real bad games. I remember Tulane two years ago. Each year we have a couple of (bad) games, and I definitely hope last week was the only one for this season. We are ready to bounce back from last week."

You'd almost think from Hall's answer that Navy lost last week, but the team didn't, they are 2-0. But according to Hall, the team's record is not necessarily the bottom line anymore.

"There's not much difference (between last year and this year), I mean we lost the first two games by a total of 6 points last year, and we won the first two this year by a total of what, 4 points? It just shows you that our program has come a long way. Now we are not happy about just winning…we want to win the way we believe we play football. Last week was not representative of how Navy plays football."

With Navy's opponent starting the season 0-2, Hall understands the urgency Stanford probably is feeling right now.

"I know this is probably a must-win game for Stanford. That third game, it's critical to get things turned around. That's how we were last year. We were desperate for a win," said Hall.

Hall, who was the starting fullback last year before suffering the aforementioned leg injury in the Notre Dame game, considers himself 100% physically which was pretty evident after his 53 yard touchdown run last week.

"(The touchdown run) felt real good. I was a little tired, but I think it pumped up our team at that point a little bit. I was excited to be able to help the team out like that."

There is no doubt that Hall will be called upon this Saturday as Navy hits the road for the first time. And as much as Hall admits loving to play in front of the brigade, going on the road has its positives as well.

"I don't mind going to a hostile place and having the people rallying against you, it's kind of fun and exciting. I think Stanford will have a lot of motivation playing in their new stadium. But at the same time, we haven't forgotten that they beat us last year. We definitely want to get that back."

With Hall at full strength, Navy's fullbacks may provide the team with its best one-two punch at any position, although that still probably won't stop Coach Paul Johnson with his constructive criticism of the duo. In the spring, Johnson remarked that Ballard still had "not proven anything" to him, even on the heels of rushing for 489 yards in the last three games of the 2005 season.

As for Hall, what was the most memorable constructive criticism he has received from Coach Johnson?

"It's not a problem of thinking of them. I just have to think of the clean version. He (Coach Johnson) doesn't use those nice words with me. I'd rather not give one," said Hall.

"It took me a long time to learn that (the yelling) is the business side. They are not attacking you. You have to listen to what they say…no matter how they say it. You just use it to get better. When the coaches would get on (Adam), he really grew as a player and really became a good player at the end of the year."

Hall, who suffers from asthma, also had no problem thinking of what he will do once his football career comes to an end this year.

"I'm going to relax. My body is beaten up."


MidsDaily.com Top Stories