Who Will Win More in 2008 – Army or Air Force

The Navy Fan Forum is back to discuss the 2008 football season and even chat a bit about our friendly foes – Army and Air Force. For those of you who missed part one of the roundtable chat, the participants are Navy blogger extraordinaire Mike James (MJ), the Washington Post's Christian Swezey (CS), GoMids.com's message board moderator, Mike Althouse (86), and yours truly (DA).

Can you really get excited about playing Towson in the opener? 


MJ: With a new coaching staff, new players on offense, and a defense that needs to make some huge strides taking on an offense that likes to chuck the ball around, I can only assume that this question is a joke.


86: Why not?  It's really the first game in the Niumatalolo era (the bowl game doesn't really count), it's the first game in a new season - the opponent doesn't really matter.  Besides, all the so-called "good teams" start off with a patsy.  Heck, they'll be excited to play us so we better be ready to play THEM.


CS: You're kidding, right?? There's only 12 games each year. I'm fired up towatch the game, tape it and watch it again Sunday morning. As Mike says, Towson will be ready. I remember their AD saying something to Gladchuk about it before the Gtown-Navy NCAA lacrosse playoff game in 2006 (he was the NCAA rep at the game). Fingers crossed this game turns into something like the VMI opener in 2003. One of the things that Navy really missed in 2007 was a game where the backups got some playing time. And having backups play a lot in an opener is huge for morale team-wide. Now if only Towson would agree to get blown out...


DA: If I could I would flip flop the opening games from 2008 and 2009.  I much rather face Hawaii in 2008.  I think it would be fun to see Kaipo play in that game and I also think we may be in need of a Towson-like game to open 2009.  Of course I'm not really answering the question.  But, please, I am already counting the hours to the game.


What will be the biggest on-field change instituted by the new coaching staff?


MJ: I don't know if we're going to see any on-field changes right away. When Coach Niumatalolo was introduced in his press conference, he kept talking about not changing what works. I'm sure there will be some differences in ofensive playcalling, but I'm not sure any of us are smart enough to recognize them. Defensively, Niumatalolo might be a bit more involved than PJ was since he isn't running the offense.


86: Plays getting called from the booth instead of by the head coach on the field?  I don't know - it's hard to answer this until after spring practice.  If the question was what would I like to see instituted, I'd love to see us run some plays out of the shotgun.  I think it would help the passing game a lot and AFA used it pretty successfully to get the ball in Chad Hall's hands a lot.


CS: Two things. 1.) The play-calling. Jasper used to watch the secondary, Niumatalolo the interior offensive line and they would feed info to Johnson. I wonder if the assignments of who watches what in-game will change? 2.) Will the team lose its swagger?? I sure hope not, because that was a very underrated key to Johnson's success. I remember Grant Moody saying in 2002 the thing he noticed about watching film of the 1995 and 1996 Navy teams was how much confidence they had on offense. I'm looking at Ivin Jasper to keep that going.


DA: I'm curious to see Niumatalolo's demeanor when interacting with the players.  Johnson was known for pulling a head gear or two and tossing around a few spit bubbles at underperforming players.  I didn't see a lot of that during the bowl game, but I think we will starting this spring.


Who will win more games in 2008, Army or Air Force?


MJ: Air Force. Better coaching, except for 2-point conversions.


86: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Army.  I really think AFA is going to have a tough year next season.  They lose a ton of seniors and the cupboard is REALLY bare the next two seasons.


CS: Air Force because it is better coached. Army's underclasses are extremely threadbare. There's very little talent other than Bentler, Ugenyi, Carson Williams and the running back from DeMatha (Mealy). Tho Medhurst says his nephew who plays for Army is very legit...Anyway, I'm guessing six wins for AF, four for Army.


DA: It turns out that "threadbare" is actually a word.  I had to look it up…it means shabby.  There's no doubt that Army is looking to dip into the Air Force magic pot in terms of tweaking its offense and hoping for similar success.  I think it is fair to say that Army's schedule will be much easier.  Some published reports have them playing (among others) Eastern Michigan, Temple, Buffalo, Rice, and New Hampshire.  I hate to throw around the word "winnable" when talking about an Army game, but with that schedule, their game with Air Force could go a long way in determining who has the better record.


It wouldn't shock you in 2008 if…


MJ: ...Navy didn't get bowl eligible. I'm not predicting that Navy won't be bowl eligible, but the schedule is tough and the coaching staff is new. Stranger things have happened. And SMU just hired June Jones?


86: ...Navy lost to Duke.  It also wouldn't shock me if we beat Notre Dame again.


CS: …Senior slotback Greg Shinego becomes a star. The recruiting doesn't take as big a hit as people think. Phat Phelix spontaneously combusts during Air Force week.


DA: …Special Teams makes or breaks 2-3 games for Navy.  The Mids have to replace its punter, clutch kicker, punt and kick-off returners, and long snapper.  I also wouldn't be surprised if Navy's new coach changes some administrative policies regarding the team.  I don't know the complete history behind Navy's open practices, but I wouldn't be surprised if that policy changes a bit.


Who will the team captains be next season?


MJ: I have no idea, but with a gun to my head I'd guess Kaipo and Jeff Deliz.


86: Ketric Buffin and Kaipo.


CS: Ketric Buffin and Shun White. Guys who get it done on and off the field.


DA: I think all of these suggestions are possible, but I would think that Eric Kettani and Michael Walsh will probably get some votes as well.




If you would like to take part in a future fan forum, drop David an email. 

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