PART ONE: OFFENSE
Quarterbacks: In his own words, Brian Hampton has called his play "average." I'd have to agree – to a degree. It can be easily argued that although the game ball went to Adam Ballard in the opener, it was Hampton's true grit that put Navy over the threshold against East Carolina. A lot of his 149 yards rushing came on second effort. However, there is no getting passed the point that Hampton makes every Navy fan nervous each time the ball leaves his hands. In 12 games last year, Lamar Owens lost only 167 yards rushing and it was well known that his biggest hiccup was how deep he would find himself when looking to pitch the ball to a slot back. In four games, Hampton has lost 77 yards and is largely responsible for the majority of the 13 fumbles thus far. Last year, Navy only fumbled the ball 21 times in 12 games.
Fullbacks: Adam Ballard and Matt Hall are the most feared 1-2 punch on Navy's offense. They are averaging 5.6 yards per rush and more importantly, they have only lost 3 yards between them. Ballard is easily Johnson's most trusted ball carrier this side of Reggie Campbell. Tulsa was the first opponent to hold the combo under 100 yards rushing for a game (94 yards). If Navy is ever able to consistently widen the field and get the slot backs more involved, expect Ballard and Hall to see less carries, but with even better results. Ballard is on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards before any possible bowl game. Of course Air Force, Rutgers and Notre Dame will have a lot to say about that.
Slotbacks: Against Colorado State in last year's record-setting performance in the Poinsettia Bowl, Reggie Campbell touched the ball on offense 18 times and gained 207 yards. Through four games this year, he has 28 touches for 239 yards – yet he still seems to be all over the field making plays. Shun White is turning into a capable playmaker himself, averaging over 11 yards per rush. However, Navy has to…let me emphasize that HAS TO find a way to get the ball into Campbell's hands more often. If this means bringing in another quarterback who can throw an accurate toss for just a few plays, then it needs to happen. Even if half the defense knows the ball is coming Campbell's way, I'd take my chances on him breaking a big one. Defenses need to fear Campbell. Right now, Navy fears tossing the ball his way.
Wide Receivers: Jason Tomlinson is probably one of the best blockers in the country who weighs less than 210 pounds. However due to inconsistent play at the quarterback position, he hasn't had an opportunity to showcase his receiving ability. The same could be said about every other receiver on offense. It's tough to grade a group of players who average less than four catches per game. But since there is nothing more frustrating than receiving an "incomplete" from a professor, we'll say this: The receivers are getting open and they are making blocks when slot backs come their way. It's pretty tough to blame them for the struggles on offense, so I won't.
Offensive Line: This is a tough one because from this professor's view, it's difficult to know who is to blame for the penetration of the defenses into the backfield. If Hampton makes the current read in some cases, maybe nobody notices the defensive linemen who have a front-row seat in Navy's backfield because Ballard is rumbling for another six-yard gain. What we do know is that the line has only allowed 5 sacks and unless they have found a way to pack 50 more pounds in their socks, they are still getting a good push against bigger and heavier opponents. However, we are still waiting for an Emerald-Bowl like fourth quarter, 10-minute drive to put close games away. Stanford was by far their best game and UMASS their worst.