To say that Coach Johnson is not pleased in the effort of his football team would be an understatement. After practice on Monday he said, "When I turn on the film I'm embarrassed by the way we played. We can't get lined up, we can't read our keys, it's one thing if you get beat and it's another if you just line up and play street ball. We were out there playing street ball. It's disappointing."
As the Mids enter their home opener both effort and execution need to improve. The coaching staff graded 62 efforts (meaning instances where players showed a lack of effort) during the Rutgers game. Coach Johnson noted that between 15 and 20 would be acceptable for this time of the season.
An additional challenge for the coaching staff this week will be working in several young players as injuries have started to rear their ugly head. The penalty numbers improved from week one as the Midshipmen were penalized 5 times for 40 yards, down from 7 penalties for 69 yards against Temple.
Coach Brady Hoke brings the Ball State Cardinals to Annapolis at 1-1. Coach Hoke is 16-32 in his 5th year at his alma mater. He is currently one of only 18 coaches to be coaching at the school they graduated from.
Ball State is coming off a 38-16 victory over MAC rival Eastern Michigan.
The highlight of the Brady Hoke era may have been a loss. Last November, the University of Michigan was ranked #2 in the country with a match-up against #1 Ohio State on the horizon; Ball State went into Ann Arbor and played toe to toe with the mighty Wolverines. Though they lost 34-26, the Cardinals made quite an impression. Though not as much of an impression as Appalachian State did two weeks ago.
Navy Offense vs. Ball State Defense
Against Rutgers Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada had one of his worst games since becoming the Navy starter. He finished with 35 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, but it was through the air that Kaipo difficulties were exacerbated. 5 of 12 for 35 yards with one touchdown and 3 interceptions is bad, but when you factor that two of the picks were thrown into the end zone while the Midshipmen were driving, it makes it even worse. Jarod Bryant came in and lead the team to late touchdown, but that was in garbage time. Kaipo needs to improve against Ball State in order to get the offense back on track.
Junior fullback Eric Kettani led the team in rushing with 48 yards on only 9 carries. He proved a great change of pace to Adam Ballard. Adam finished with 12 carries for 42 yards. Navy could not reach the outside very often against the superior Rutgers speed. None of the slot backs had particularly good games in Piscataway. Zerb Singleton led the position with 36 yards on 5 attempts. Reggie Campbell did have a touchdown reception.
The offensive line and wide receivers showed improvement from the first game, but not to the level expected of the coaching staff. There were times Kaipo had time to throw, but not consistently. There were rushing lanes, especially for the fullback when Coach Johnson ran the slot backs in what is called flat motion, meaning parallel the line of scrimmage. Greg Sudderth had his first two career receptions and finished with 20 yards receiving.
This season the Ball State defense has improved drastically. The Cardinals finished last season ranked 115th in the country in total defense. Currently they are ranked 25th. Last week Ball State held Eastern Michigan to 262 total yards. In a week one loss to Miami (OH), they actually out gained the RedHawks 338 to 296. Ball State is doing this with physically two very different nose tackles. Troy Davis, who started the EMU game is listed at 5' 11'', 244 lbs., while Amara Koroma (who coincidentally was recruited by Navy and attend NAPS) is listed at 6' 2'', 275 lbs. Another Navy connection is backup defensive end Brandon Crawford, who is a 31-year-old ex-Marine. Rush end Cortlan Booker is a 5th year senior who leads the team in sacks.
Bryant Haines was the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week after his 12-tackle performance against Eastern Michigan. Haines is returning from an injury plagued 2006 where he missed games. Middle linebacker Mike Dorulla and SAM linebacker Kenny Meeks join Haines in the starting lineup. Dorulla is currently third on the team with 13 tackles.
The Cardinal secondary is lead by cornerback B.J. Hill. Hill leads the team with two interceptions, one in each game. He is also fourth on the team with 12 tackles. Joining Hill is fellow corner Trey Lewis. Lewis also has a pick as well as 2 pass breakups. Free safety Marcus McClure is currently second on the team with 14 tackles. Strong safety Chris Allen rounds out an experienced secondary.
Ball State Offense vs. Navy Defense
Super sophomore Nate Davis heads up an extremely talented Ball State offense. Davis took over in the 5th game last season and has not looked back. He finished his true freshman campaign 150 of 245 for 1,975 yards with 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. That was good enough to rank him 17th in the country in passing efficiency with a rating of 147.25. So far this season Davis is 38 of 74 for 504 yards. Most importantly he has 5 touchdowns and no interceptions.
The rushing game was an area of concern entering the season and though it has not been a liability, it will need to improve for Ball State to become contenders in the MAC. MiQuale Lewis is small, but he's still 20 pounds heaver then Reggie Campbell. Lewis had 91 yards on 25 carries in the opener and followed that up with a 21 carry, 73 yard performance against Eastern Michigan. He also scored a touchdown verses EMU.
The offensive line is young. Even without a senior starter and starting both a true freshman and true sophomore, they still need to improve their run blocking. They have shown some skill in pass protection, only allowing 3 sacks in two games.
Wide receiver is the strength of the Cardinal offense. Junior Dante Love is coming off a Second-Team All- Conference season in 2006, and you got to "love" how he's doing in 2007. Love had eight catches for 80 yards with one touchdown in the opener and followed that up with a seven receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns against Eastern Michigan. Both tight ends are also big time targets. Darius Hill is a huge target (6' 6'', 233 lbs.) and Madaris Grant is not small (6' 5'', 228 lbs.). Hill has 8 receptions for 121 yards with a touchdown on the young season.
Navy's defense enters the home opener is desperate need of change of venue. The Midshipmen only forced Rutgers to punt once and that was on the opening drive of the game. Missed tackles and missed assignments are still the norm. Between injuries, ineffectiveness and the heat on Friday night several young players saw action. Sophomore defensive end Kyle Bookhout provided the hit of the night when he stopped Ray Rice for a two-yard loss on third and goal from the one. Jordan Stephens, Andy Lark and Ryan Griffith also saw action against Rutgers and should see their playing time increase.
With Clint Sovie out for the season, sophomores Tony Haberer and Ross Pospisil will need to step up. Both played against Rutgers, with Pospisil having the better night, recording 5 tackles. Irv Spencer will need to be a leader. The senior has to set an example for these youngsters in Sovie's absence. Matt Wimsatt continues to set the pace at outside backer, while youngsters Matt Humiston and Matt Nechak need to improve. Wimsatt has 6 tackles, including a tackle for loss verses Rutgers. He is second on the team in total tackles and leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss.
Still another youngster, freshman Wyatt Middleton led the team with 11 tackles against the Scarlet Knights. He will continue to see more time at safety with Jeff Deliz having season ending surgery. Ketric Buffin can also shift over to safety, the position he primarily played his first two seasons at the Academy. He has interceptions in back to back games and 3 picks in his last 5. If Buffin plays safety, this could mean more playing time for Greg Thrasher. Thrasher was suspended for the Temple game for violating team rules and sat out all of 2006 while focusing on academics. He looked like a corner that hadn't played in over year on Friday when Kenny Britt burned him for a 53-yard touchdown, which virtually eliminated any chance for a Navy upset.
Navy Special Teams vs. Ball State Special Teams
Matt Harmon connected on another field goal against Rutgers and his kickoffs continue to be strong. He is now 4 for 4 on field goals on the season.
The Midshipmen's return game continues to be strong. Reggie Campbell returned 6 kickoffs for 124 yards with a long of 31 yards. Zerb Singleton had a return of 34 yards and freshman Emmett Merchant had a 57-yard return.
Punting continues to be a problem as Greg Veteto only averaged 28.5 yards per punt against Rutgers. Coach Johnson questioned the protection and the long snapping of Matt Oberlander, but assured Veteto will keep his job, for now.
On the other hand Ball State punter Chris Miller is averaging 47.7 yards per punt and has 5 punts inside to opponents 20.
Jake Hogue is only 3 of 6 on field goals this season, but all three of his misses are from 30 yards and out.
The Cardinals use their best skill position players as their returners. Cornerback B.J. Hill returns punts and wide receiver Dante Love, along with Hill return kickoffs.