Off the Yard: Navy Football Forecast

After two weeks of sifting through new brigade policies, the attention of Navy fans turns to the first opponent – the Temple Owls. This Friday will mark the return of Navy football after a 243-day hiatus from the Division I gridiron. In anticipation of this momentous day, I started my recent interview with Coach Paul Johnson with the following question: Are your players getting enough food?

Mostly Sunny

As Navy fans embark on another season in the Paul Johnson-era, they do so with many more questions off-the-field than on it.  Let's face it – the forecast is mostly sunny from a football perspective.  After all, Coach Johnson is still Navy's head coach; Navy still has seven starters returning on offense including quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada; fullback Adam Ballard, center Antron Harper and slot back Reggie Campbell; and Navy is relatively healthy on both sides of the ball to start the season. 


But Partly Cloudy


It's definitely not all clear skies for Navy though as there are many question marks on and off-the-field.  On-the-field, Navy's defense is young and inexperienced, and nobody, including the coaching staff really knows what to expect out of them.  While it's easy to say there are expectations that Ballard will play hard and Campbell will run fast, the same can not be said about a mostly untested defense.  It won't take long, however, to figure it out.  I would guess after about 15 minutes into the game, Navy fans will have a pretty good idea of what the long-range forecast will look like for the defense.  In the meantime, let's just call the defensive question marks, partly cloudy.  In fact, look for Navy's young defense and how they perform early against Temple to be one of the ‘Keys to the Game' the staff (and special guest contributors) will be bringing you later in the week.


And then there is the Unsettled Weather


Now, as far as the off-the-field issues go and how they relate to Navy football, let me just say for starters that the reaction to my interview with Naval Academy Professor Bruce Fleming has been nothing short of overwhelming.  I have heard from parents, alumni, Blue and Gold officers and even NAAA (think big-time donors).  A lot of people have formed their opinions of new superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler and his newly instituted policies.  Others, like Coach Johnson have adopted the "wait-and-see" approach.  Pencil me somewhere in the middle.  I am surmising that much like the answers to the on-the-field questions that exist, it won't take too long to start to draw logical conclusions about the impact the new brigade policies will have on the Navy football team.  It is very possible that these off-the-field distractions can be an added incentive for a team who is just looking for a really good way to vent their frustrations.  Or, maybe…well…I'm not going to the other end of the spectrum - yet.  So, let's just call the off-the-field forecast ‘unsettled' for now.


Yard Notes


- I have received over 100 emails in the past four days from a growing pool of Off the Yard sources and perhaps, maybe even, dare I say – Off the Yard fans?  I'm still trying to figure out how best to share some of the thoughts with the audience.  There are some fresh perspectives out there that I think will lend positively to the overall discussion.  In the meantime, please keep your ideas, comments, suggestions and intelligence coming.


- There is still no official word on how many midshipmen will be attending the Temple game.


- Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation reports there are lane closures scheduled on I-95 near the stadium, starting at 9 p.m. on Friday evening.  You may want to use alternate routes (go through NJ) to get back to Annapolis.


- For those of you who will be sitting at home watching the Navy/Temple game, be sure to log onto before kick-off as I am planning on debuting my Press Box Diary (to be formally named later) live from the game.  That's right, live observations, from the game.  I'll tell you (or at least that's my plan) what you're not seeing on television. 

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