Head-to-head: Navy vs. Maryland

Navy and Maryland meet at M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since 2005 with a new trophy up for grabs. The interstate matchup resumes in the newly christened "Crab Bowl". Last year Maryland suffered ten losses for the first time in their history. Meanwhile, Navy won ten games last season for just the third time in their history.

NAVY
EDGE
AREA
Maryland
EDGE
COMMENTS
 
rushing offense
vs.
Maryland rushing defense
 
Navy returns six offensive starters from its spread option attack that finished fourth in the nation in rushing last year. While Navy needs to replace two interior linemen and a starting slot back from last year, there seems to be capable talent at both positions. Maryland's defensive coordinator Don Brown gave Navy's offense fits in 2006 when he was head coach at Division 1AA UMass and nearly upset the Mids in Annapolis. The Terps talented linebacking corps that includes Alex Wujciak (131 tackles in 2009) and Adrian Moten (68 tackles 6 sacks in 2009) should benefit from the additional practice time they had to prepare to defend the triple option.  
 
Navy passing offense
vs.
Maryland passing defense
 
It will be interesting to see who emerges to replaces Marcus Curry as Ricky Dobbs favorite receiving target. Maryland returns only one defensive back in cornerback Cameron Chism. If the Brown uses the same game plan he used in 2006 he will find rather quickly that Ricky Dobbs is a vastly superior passer to Brian Hampton.  
 
Maryland rushing offense
vs.
Navy rushing defense
 
Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott speed can test the inexperienced Mid linebackers. Maryland's quarterback, Jamarr Robinson, is a dual threat quarterback who has the mobility to give the Mids trouble. Ralph Fridgen's offensive line struggled terribly last year. It features two walk-ons as starters. Up front Navy's defensive end Jabaree Tuani and the Mids nose guard combo of Shane Bothel and Chase Burge match up well against Maryland. Navy should limit the ground attack of the Terps.  
 
Maryland passing offense
vs.
Navy passing defense
 
Navy returns three senior starters in safety captain Wyatt Middleton, Emmett Merchant and terrific cover corner Kevin Edwards. Torrey Smith, the Terp's big play man (61 catches, 824 yards 5 touchdowns in 2009), is on the 2010 Biletnikoff watch list. One of the keys for Maryland will be how well the rebuilt offensive line protects. Maryland was an anemic 110th in the nation in sacks allowed last year.  
EVEN
Special Teams
EVEN  
Torrey Smith set the ACC record for kickoff return yards in 2009. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Maryland's very solid in kicking game with former All-ACC punter Travis Baltz fully recovered from last year's injury problem. Navy kicking game is outstanding with All-East performer Joe Buckley and Kyle Delahooke, one of the best punters in Navy history. Navy's return game has been pedestrian since Reggie Campbell graduated. Gary Myers is the Mids new punt returner.  
EVEN  
Coaching
EVEN  
Despite many predictions of Navy's demise after Paul Johnson left Ken Niumatalolo hasn't missed a beat. He also has raised the bar in recruiting. Ralph Fridgen is a well-regarded coach who had brought the Terps to six bowl games and produced an ACC championship before last year's nightmare season.  
 
Intangibles
 
Maryland's ACC pride must be bruised by the fact they are a 6 1/2 point underdog to Navy on a neutral field in Maryland.  

PREDICTION: Navy's the better team. Navy wins, 27-20

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