Game Preview: Notre Dame vs Navy

Notre Dame is still looking for their second win of the season, as Navy comes to South Bend this weekend.

 Notre Dame vs.  Navy
Fighting Irish   Midshipmen
Saturday, November 3rd
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind.
2:30 EST


Navy On Offense:

Navy Offense '07 Rank Per Game ND Defense '07 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense #1 342.88 Rushing Defense #93 191.75
Pass Offense #119 107.63 Pass Defense #13 181.00
Pass Eff. #22 138.39 Pass Eff. #38 116.28
Total Offense #33 430.17 Total Defense #57 372.75
Scoring Offense #32 34.00 Scoring Defense #78 29.63

Notre Dame (1-7) and Navy (4-4) will meet for the 81st consecutive season this weekend. The Irish hold a 70-9-1 all-time record against the Midshipmen, and Notre Dame will be trying to extend their winning streak against Navy to 44 games.

Navy head coach Paul Johnson is one of the best coaches in the college game. He took over a program that had gone 1-20 the two seasons before he arrived. In Johnson's second season at Annapolis, he lead the team to an 8-5 record and their first bowl appearance in seven seasons. Since that point, Navy has been invited to a post season bowl every year. Under Johnson, Navy has a record of 2-2 in those bowl games, which includes a last second 25-24 loss to Boston college in last season's Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The offense is the team's strength. Navy probably has more athleticism, and talent in the backfield than they have ever had. There are several players that are a threat to break long runs every time they have the ball. The Middies run the triple-option and like last season, they lead the nation in rushing.

Navy has wins over Temple, Duke, Air Force, and Pitt. Their four losses been to Rutgers, Ball State (OT), Wake Forest, and Delaware.

Anticipated Depth Chart.

  Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Jr. 36-66-634 4/4 54.5
  Jarod Bryant , Jr. 14-24-192 0/0 58.3

Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (5-11, 194 pounds) has carried the ball 130 times for 655 and 11 touchdowns. He averages 81.9 rushing yards per game and five yards a carry. Kaheaku-Enhada did start against the Irish last season, when Brian Hampton went down. Like most option quarterbacks, Kaheaku-Enhada isn't a greater passer, but he has very good speed and big play ability. He has touchdown runs of 78 and 80 yards this season. Kaheaku-Enhada has been slowed by a neck injury and has failed to finish Navy's last two contests. He leads Navy in both rushing and passing.

Jarod Bryant (5-10, 185 pounds) has carried the ball 55 times for 260 and 2 touchdowns. He averages 43.3 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards a carry. Bryant isn't a big-play quarterback, but there isn't much of a drop-off when he comes into the game. In fact, he nearly won the starting job this fall. He is considered a better passer than Kaheaku-Enhada and he runs the triple-option offense very well.

  Slot Back Hgt/Wgt Rushes-Yards
  Reggie Campbell, Sr. 5-6/186 42-298, 3 TDs
  Bobby Doyle, So. 5-11/ 194 2-7, 0 TDs

Reggie Campbell averages 37.2 yards per game and a hefty 7.1 yards per carry. He has nine receptions for 132 yards and three touchdowns (14.7 yards per catch). Campbell is small, but he is a dynamic athlete with sprinter speed. Every time he touches the ball, he has the chance to take it the distance.

  Slot Back Hgt/Wgt Rushes-Yards
  Zerbin Singleton, Sr. 5-8/ 164 36-221, 1 TDs
  Shun White, Jr. 5-9/ 186 41-318, 3 TDs

Zerbin Singleton averages 27.6 yards a game and 6.1 yards a carry. He has good speed, he's an outstanding blocker and he has very good hands. Singleton has 9 catches for 162 yards (18.0 yards per reception).

If Johnson wants more speed on in the backfield, he just brings in Shun White. White is actually averaging more yards per game than both Campbell and Singleton with 45.4 a game and 7.8 yards a carry. Six catches for 99 yards (16.5 yards per catch).

  FB Hgt/Wgt Attps-Yards
  Eric Kettani, Jr. 6-1/ 233  100-557, 6 TDs
  Adam Ballard, Jr. 6-1/ 236  91-432, 4 TDs

The interesting thing about this year's version of the Navy offense is that the two fullbacks are two of the leading rushers on the team Eric Kettani is Navy's second leading rusher with 69.6 yards per game (5.6 per carry), while his backup, Adam Ballard, is third on the team in rushing yardage with 54 yards game (4.7 per carry). Both are tough, powerful runners and very dependable.

  WR Hgt/Wgt Stats
  O.J. Washington, Sr. 5-10, 188  9 rcpts/215 yds/1 TDs
  Tyree Barnes, Jr. 6-2, 188  6 rcpts/104 yds/2 TD
  Greg Sudderth, Sr. 6-2, 207  6 rcpts/110 yds/0 TD

The receivers aren't going to dominate, but they aren't asked to do so. All they need to do is make enough catches to keep the secondary from cheating on run support All the receivers have good size and they are good down field blockers, which is their main function. O.J. Washington is the best of the bunch. He average 23.9 yards per game and just over one catch.

  Offensive Line Hgt/Wgt Experience
  LT Josh Meek, Sr. 6-1, 274 16 Starts
  LG Anthony Gaskins, Jr. 6-1, 281 8 Starts
  C Antron Harper, Sr. 5-11, 272 23 Starts
  RG Ben Gabbard Sr. 6-4, 297 8 Starts
  RT Andrew McGinn, Jr. 6-1, 255 13 Starts

Navy was expected to see some drop-off from last year's rushing numbers, but this group hasn't missed a beat. Although the offensive line is small, they will battle Notre Dame every play. Antron Harper is probably the best player up front, but McGinn and Meek have experience. This line is amazingly productive.

Navy On Defense:
Navy Defense '07 Rank Per Game ND Offense '07 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense #82 178.88 Rushing Offense #119 34.13
Pass Defense #109 280.63 Pass Offense #112 153.50
Pass Eff. #119 171.46 Pass Eff. #118 94.30
Total Defense #105 171.46 Total Offense #119 187.63
Scoring Defense #105 38.13 Scoring Offense #118 10.00

The Navy defense lost a number of key players from 2006, so the unit was expected to struggle at times. Unfortunately for Paul Johnson, the defense has been really bad at times. Part of the reason can be traced to graduation, but they also have had a key injuries to players they expected to step into the leadership roles. The Navy secondary has been hit the hardest. They're missing two starters and another player that they were counting on to make contributions. In their losses, the defense hasn't done much to stop the opponents offense. For a struggling Notre Dame offense, this could be the right team face at this juncture.

The defense has yielded 200 rushing yards five times this season. Over the past three games, the defense has given up 470 yards and 49 points a contest. To compound the issue, the defense isn't making plays behind the line or causing turnovers.

Anticipated Depth Chart. 

  Defensive Line Hgt/Wgt Stats
  DE Chris Kuhar-Pitters, Sr. 6-2, 258  20 tackles/ 1 TFL
  NT Nate Frazier, So. 6-3, 285  25 tackles/ 2.5 TFL
  DE Michael Walsh, Jr. 6-2, 239  31 tackles/ 5.56 TFL

Navy has had all kinds of trouble stopping the run this season and the trouble can probably be traced to the guys up front. It is difficult to run a '3-4' defense in college, but if you do, you need players that have size, and Navy's front three are small. Kuhar-Pitters and Frazier were supposed to be the strength of the unit, but Walsh, a former linebacker, is the most productive player up front. There is absolutely no depth.

  Linebackers Hgt/Wgt  Stats
  OLB Ram Vela, So. 5-9, 196  34 tackles/ 1.5 TFLs
  ILB Tony Haberer, So. 6-3, 229  33 tackles/ 2.0 TFLs
  ILB Irv Spencer, Sr. 6-0, 238  59 tackles/ 6.5 TFLs
  OLB Matt Wimsatt, Sr. 6-1, 216  52 tackles/ 4.0 TFLs

Like the defensive line, there isn't much experience. They aren't very big and there is no depth. Returning starter Clint Sovie was lost early in the season which added the to inexperience and depth issues. Spencer leads the defense in tackles with Wimsatt having the second most tackles. With a smallish front three this unit needs to make plays, but they only have a combined 14 TFLs on the season.  

  Defensive Backs Hgt/Wgt  Stats
  CB Rashawn King, Jr.. 6-0, 190  47 tackles/ 1 INTs
  CB Blake Carter, So. 5-11, 188  33 tackles/ 0 INTs
  FS Wyatt Middleton, Fr. 6-0, 200  50 tackles/ 0 INTs
  SS Greg Thrasher, Sr. 5-8, 181  7 tackles/ 0 INTs

Senior captain, Jeff Deliz, corner back Ketric Buffin and safety Jesse Iwuji are out for the season. Buffin was having a great season with four interceptions in six games. He was about the only guy on the defense who was making plays on the ball. While Middleton is third on the team in tackles, both he and Carter were pressed into action. King is a very solid player, but there are just too many pieces to replace here. Top Stories