Rutgers at Navy
When: Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
TV: CBS College Sports
I did a graphic for WaPo before the Army game in 2006 on teams that have faced Navy for four consecutive years and how the defenses did, statistically, from year one to year four.
And there was not nearly as much improvement from year one to year four as I thought. The explanation being that most of the key personnel, and sometimes the coordinators, change from year to year.
Rutgers is an exception. Their safety, Courtney Greene, is a four-year starter. And in that time he has seen just about everything from Navy--the basic offense in 2005, not much offense in 2006 and a lot of passing in 2007.
Coach Greg Schiano hasn't gone anywhere, either. I recently moved and, in throwing away stuff from the attic, stumbled upon an article from a NJ paper from the day of the Rutgers-Navy game in 2001. The lede was that Schiano was asking for patience, that he believed he would get the program turned around. He certainly did that.
THIS REMINDS ME OF...: This game may go the way of the ND game in 2006. Like ND, Rutgers has an excellent defensive end (Jamaal Westerman; ND had Abiamiri in '06) and a good safety (Greene; Zbikowski). The difference being Zbikowski was looking to make big plays on almost every down, and Navy exploited his eagerness with the reverse to Tomlinson that should have gone for a touchdown rather than the 25-yard gain. Greene won't make the same mistake.
Navy dealt with Abiamiri by not blocking him. On option plays, Navy rarely blocks the last defender on the line of scrimmage. As I wrote in this space after that game, ND's counter in the second half was to move a linebacker to the LOS; thus Abiamiri was not be the last defender there and Navy had to block him, or try to block him.
So I'm interested to see how Navy addresses Greene and how Rutgers addresses Westerman on option plays. I think Schiano moved Westerman inside for the Navy game last year; he forced Navy to block Westerman, and I don't think it went well.
Not having to face Ray Rice is a great equalizer for Navy's defense. The issue on defense will be keeping up with Rutgers's speedy wideouts and/or putting pressure on the QB. I trust Buddy Green will come up with something.
BOTTOM LINE: I know it's a lot to ask, but the fans need to stand up and, you know, make noise for this game. Rutgers operates out of the shotgun a lot of the time; any noise from people other than the Brigade will be a help to the defense.