GoMids.com Hands Out First-Half Grades

It's time to hand out those mid-season report cards for the Navy football team. On the heels of a three-game winning streak, you'd think that the Mids would score pretty high marks across the board. However, one must not forget about the Ball State and Duke games, the later of which may at season's end look like one victory that got away. Go ahead and debate the grades in the GoMids.com forum.

Quarterbacks

From a Statistical Standpoint:

Senior back-up Jarod Bryant has played 16 quarters including all of the Towson, Ball State and Air Force games; whereas starter Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada has played the equivalent of just eight quarters including almost every down of the Rutgers game. And while it is common thinking around Annapolis that Kaipo is much better at executing Navy's triple option offense, a look inside the numbers reveals a surprising statistic.  With Bryant behind center, Navy has gained 1,558 yards on 245 plays for a 6.36 yard per play average. Meanwhile the Navy offense has gained 680 yards on 110 plays with Kaipo – a 6.18 yard per play average. However, Navy has outscored opponents 64-41 with Kaipo at quarterback, but has been outscored 113-108 with Bryant at the helm. Together the two have rushed for 615 yards on 125 carries (4.92 yards per rush) and have accounted for 11 touchdowns (7 rushing, 4 passing). Also of statistical note, Bryant has fumbled the ball 7 times this season, losing three of them.

From a Fundamental Standpoint:

In the big picture, I think it is safe to say that neither Bryant nor Kaipo have put the offense on their shoulders and propelled the team to a victory this year. Last season, however, one could make that argument for at least the Northern Illinois, Pitt, and Air Force wins when the Navy signal caller played a huge role in the outcome. That being said both Bryant and Kaipo have found ways to direct the offense on key scoring drives, albeit not with the same frequency as we became used to seeing last season. The Mids are still looking for either Bryant or Kaipo to have a break-out performance, and if they get one, look for Navy to win that game by three or more touchdowns.

Grade: B-

Fullbacks

From a Statistical Standpoint:

After three games, Eric Kettani had amassed only 127 yards on the ground and even his head coach was wondering where the 2007-version of the bruising fullback, who led the Mids in rushing with 880 yards, had gone to. Well, three games later, nobody is wondering anymore. Kettani has rattled off 383 yards in the last three contests – all Navy victories.  To compare, in Kettani's three best games (not consecutive) last season he rushed for a combined 343 yards. The senior has an outside shot at going over 1,000 yards on the year, especially if Navy qualifies for a bowl game.

From a Fundamental Standpoint:

We already knew Kettani was one of, if not the most physically gifted Navy fullback of the triple option era, but he's really raised his level of play over the last three games and willed this offense through some very critical stretches. While neither quarterback has put the offense on his shoulders, Eric Kettani did just that against Rutgers and Wake Forest. Furthermore his fourth and one conversion to seal the Air Force game will not soon be forgotten. It can be easily argued that Navy could be 2-4 right now without Kettani's second and third effort on several critical runs over the last three weeks. As for getting the senior some relief, hopefully either Alex Teich or Kevin Campbell (55 combined yards) will emerge as a more capable back-up in the second-half of the season.

Grade: A-

Slot Backs

From a Statistical Standpoint:

If you look just at the statistics, Navy's slot backs would win the most valuable position award for the first half of the season. As a group they have rushed for 852 yards on 92 carries for a 9.26 yards per rush average. However if you take away Shun White's historic rushing effort against Towson, those numbers look drastically different (504 yards and 6.87 yards per rush average). Additionally, White has lost two fumbles that could have been devastating for the Mids. Bobby Doyle (7 carries for 88 yards) seems to be emerging as Navy's #2 threat at the position with Greg Shinego (6 carries for 38 yards) next in line.

From a Fundamental Standpoint:

If Kettani carried the Mids for most of the last three games, the same could be said about White for the first three games when he totaled 588 yards on the ground. However, Navy lost two of those games. However, in addition to White's two fumbles in the past two games, he has been outperformed by Doyle in those contests. That is exactly what Navy needed to bring some balance to the position. Now, the Mids, after abandoning the outside running game against Air Force, need to get it back in-sync in order to be firing on all cylinders. White has been great at times and Doyle has showed some flashes, but for a unit that came into the season with some lofty expectations, they need to be more consistent.

Grade: B

Wide Receivers

From a Statistical Standpoint:

Tyree Barnes has 11 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead Navy's receiving corps. T.J. Thiel, Mike Schupp, and Curtis Sharp have combined for 4 catches for 38 yards and no touchdowns. Remarkably if Barnes ends the year leading the Mids in receiving yards, he will be the first wide receiver to accomplish that feat in the past three years. Since Navy's wide-outs are asked to block much more than catch, not much should be derived from this statistical standpoint…however…

From a Fundamental Standpoint:

Navy's receiving corps has been one of the pleasant surprises thus far. Barnes has been a beast after finally overcoming injuries that hampered him in previous seasons, while the combination of Sharp, Schupp, and Thiel has worked well on the perimeter. This group has made more plays than expected - especially Barnes who has come up with a number of clutch catches on third downs.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line

From a Statistical Standpoint:

Without the ability to breakdown the film with the Navy coaching staff, it is tough to offer an assessment of the offensive line from an individual performance point of view. However, as a group one typically looks at how many rushing yards Navy averages per game (313.5) and where the team ranks in the country in that category (3rd behind Louisiana-Lafayette and Oklahoma State). Neither though is as revealing as when you compare Navy's rushing performance against Rutgers, Ball State, Duke, Wake Forest and Air Force in 2007 with the same opponents this season. Last season against those five schools, Navy averaged 345 yards per game; this year the team is averaging 265 yards against the same five opponents. Of course last season, Navy was 2-3 against those schools and this year they are 3-2.

From a Fundamental Standpoint:

Let's just say it's been a work in progress. With the departure of Antron Harper, Ben Gabbard and Josh Meek there was expected to be a certain degree of drop-off, but losing Andrew McGinn after the Towson game seemed to throw off the unit's cohesiveness against Ball State and Duke. However, Austin Milke has helped to solidify the right tackle position and the line should continue to improve.

Grade: C+

Overall Thoughts and Looking Ahead

Kaipo's health is the biggest ‘x' factor as Navy enters the second-half of the season. With a healthy Kaipo, the opportunity exists to continue the experiment with Bryant playing at slot back – a position that could use a bit of a spark. If Kaipo continues to be hampered by his injury, it will be incumbent upon offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper to figure out how to minimize Bryant's mistakes while expanding the playbook when he is in the game. Involving the slot backs more in the passing game may be one part of the game plan to look for the Mids to expand upon in the second-half. Navy also needs to continue to develop a suitable back-up for Kettani. As the season progresses and as he continues to take a pounding, either Teich or Campbell will need to start sharing the load. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Navy try to get Barnes more involved in the offense on either first or second down.

OVERALL FIRST-HALF GRADE: B  

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CollegeFootballNews.com's Adam Nettina contributed to this article.


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