August 30, 2007
Navy Coaching vs. Temple Coaching
As Paul Johnson goes for his 100th career win, Al Golden is going for his 2nd. Coach Johnson is also known as a master of halftime adjustments. In their last 24 games, Navy has scored on their first possession of the second half 18 times. 14 of those scores were touchdowns. Last season, the Midshipmen went 9 of 13 on its first drive of the second half, with 8 touchdowns.
While the staff at Navy has been together for what seems like forever, the Temple staff is only in its second year. Actually, 4 new members join Al Golden's staff this season. The longest standing connection between Coach Golden and his staff is with Defense Coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, who is in his second year with the Owls and coached with Golden at Virginia since 2004. By contrast there's only one first year coach at the Naval Academy (Outside Linebackers Coach Justin Davis) and the longest standing relationships are with Wide Receivers Coach Brian Bohannon and Special Teams Coordinator/Slot Backs Coach Jeff Monken who have been with Coach Johnson for the past 11 years.
Navy Offense vs Temple Defense
When Navy gets the ball you all know what to expect, a steady dose of the triple option. And for the first time since Craig Candeto in 2003 the starting quarterback returns from the end of the prior season. Junior Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is poised to build on a sophomore campaign that saw him accumulate 507-yard rushing and 10 touchdowns while completing 23 of 48 passes for 384 yards, with 5 touchdowns and one interception.
When Kaipo doesn't carry the ball, he has some very talented options behind him. Fullback Adam Ballard is a workhorse. At 6' 1'', 236 lbs., Ballard is the power option. The fineness options come in a trio of diminutive Slot Backs. Reggie Campbell (5' 6'', 168 lbs.), Zerbin Singleton (5' 8'', 164 lbs.) and Shun White (5' 9'', 186 lbs.) are threats to go all the way every time they touch the ball.
Navy's Offense Line returns 3 starters from last season, but the two replacements are far from wet behind the ears. Guards Ben Gabbard and Anthony Gaskins played in all 13 games last season. The biggest move comes with Antron Harper moving from guard to center. Harper had starter 25 consecutive games at guard, but the move allows Navy's most experienced lineman to make the line calls and direct the group as a whole.
Navy's Wide Receivers are known for their blocking, but this group also has some receiving ability. Junior Tyree Barnes is finally healthy after showing flashes of brilliance during his first two seasons in Annapolis. Of his 12 career receptions 4 have been for touchdowns. Coach Johnson has also experimented this fall with bringing his closer in to the linemen, even lining them up as tight ends.
Temple will need to improve the run defense if they hope to slow down Navy's vaunted rushing attack. Last season the Owls finished 117th out of 119 teams in total defense and dead last against the run.
That might be why Temple is replacing retuning starter Terrance Knighton with sophomore Terrance Banks at nose tackle. Leyon Azubuike moves to defensive end after spending 2005 at tight end and last season at outside linebacker. Brian Sanford also moves to defensive end from outside linebacker.
The Owls will have a pair of new starters at outside linebacker with sophomore Alex Joseph and true freshman Amara Kamara. Temple must replace their leading tackler for 2006, middle linebacker Walter Mebane. That responsibility falls to Juco transfer Tommie Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon was named First Team All-Valley Conference and named to the All-California Region II First Team in 2006 while attending Reedley (Calif.) Community College.
Temple will roll out a pair of first time starters in sophomore Anthony Ferla and Juco transfer Tommie Williams. Williams was a teammate of middle linebacker Tommie Weatherspoon at Reedley (Calif.) Community College. The Owls do return some starting experience at safety with Richard Sheppard and Dominique Harris having 5 and 7 starts respectively.
Temple Offense vs Navy Defense
The Owls will be looking to improve on an offense that finished dead last in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) last season. But don't let the statistics fool you Temple has some weapons.
Coach Golden has named red-shirt junior Adam DiMichele as his starting quarterback. He started nine games last season, completing 135 of 220 passes for 1,518 yards with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. DiMichele was drafted 38th round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays and also signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Penn State.
Temple needs to improve its rushing attack in order to compete. Last season the Owls were next to last in the nation in rushing offense. Marcellous Grigsby will get the first shot to improve on those results. Grigsby is a Junior College transfer making his first NCAA start. Last season he scored 8 touchdowns for Sacramento City College and was a JCFootball.com Honorable Mention All-American.
I know you've been waiting to hear about the weapons Temple has, well here they are. Wide Receivers Travis Shelton, Bruce Francis and Mike Campbell can score from anywhere on the field.
Coach Golden believes Alex Derenthal is the best center in the MAC, and you know what, he may be right. Last season, Derenthal was the first sophomore to me named team MVP. The rest of Temple's offensive line is much maligned, but there is potential. True freshman Lloyd Codada earned the starting spot at left guard after being highly recruited out of West Orange (N.J.) High School.
If you need a program when the Navy defense takes the field you will not be alone. With only 2 starters returning, Defensive Coordinator Buddy Green may need to refer to the roster to see how he has on the field.
The linemen may be sort on experience, but they are long on potential. Sophomore nose tackle Nate Frazier is already being mentioned as an NFL prospect. Back-up nose tackle and fellow sophomore Andy Lark is the strongest player on the team. Defensive Ends Chris Kuhar-Pitters and Michael Walsh combine for 15 games played and 2 tackles.
Linebackers Clint Sovie and Irv Spencer make up the core of the Navy 3-4 defensive scheme. Sovie is the Midshipmen's leading returning tackler with 61 stops in 2006. The inexperience parade continues at outside linebacker with Matt Humiston and Matt Wimsatt making their first career starts.
The secondary has both experience and talent, but that is tempered by the fact that corner back Greg Thrasher is suspended for this game. Corners Rashawn King and Ketric Buffin both have starting experience, and free safety Jeff Deliz was the nickel back last season. Sophomore Jesse Iwuji will be making his first career start at rover.
Navy enters the year with experience at place-kicker and the return spots but the punting job is up for grabs.
There is currently a three-way battle for the punting duties between plebe Kyle Delahooke, senior Joey Bullen and returning starter Greg Veteto. No one seems to have a leg up, no pun intended, but Delahooke did reportedly boom a 50 yarder in the situational scrimmage on Friday.
Place-kicker Matt Harmon seams to have held on to the job he inherited when Joey Bullen injured his hamstring last season. Filling in for Bullen, Harmon connected on 8 of 11 field goals and 37 of 38 PAT's.
Reggie Campbell will be the primary punt and kick returner, but watch out for Zerbin Singleton, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the situational scrimmage.
Temple special teams had some very bright spots and some very disappointing results in 2006. Unfortunately for Owls fans, they were more disappointing results then bright ones. Coach Golden thought there was so much need for improvement that he named himself special teams coordinator during the off-season.
Jake Brownell will take over full time kicking duties after handling kickoffs last season. Though he only attempted three field goals in 2006, Brownell is being counted as high point for 2007.
Punting was such a problem in 2006 that Coach Golden has named his second straight freshman as starter. Jeff Wathne replaces Jake Brownell, as he will focus on placekicking.
Travis Shelton should pick up where he left off as one of the nations best kick returners. Last season Shelton averaged 28.8 yards per return including a 96-yard touchdown. As a team the Owls averaged 21.6 yards per return, which was 36th best in the nation, by far Temple's highest statistical ranking.