Preview: Navy Offense

IrishEyes reviews Navy's offensive personnel for Saturday's matchup in South Bend.

Death, Taxes, and Navy's triple-option in the 21st century...

The Midshipmen rank third in the nation in rushing yards with 280 per game and have converted 11 of 18 4th Down conversion attempts as well as 64 of 131 on 3rd Down (ranked No. 12 nationally).

According to Irish head coach Charlie Weis, prior to last week's game vs. Temple, Navy was the only team in the nation to rank among the Top 10 in 3rd Down Efficiency in both offense and defense.

Below is a closer look at the players that make the Navy offensive machine tick.

Skill Position Starters

  • Slot-back – Sophomore #28 Marcus Curry: Ranks third on the squad in rushing yards with 407 and first at an impressive 8.5 yards-per-pop as one of the option's two slot-backs. Curry does most of his work on the perimeter, scoring four touchdowns rushing and two receiving with TD jaunts of 85 (reception vs. OSU); 31 (run vs. SMU); and 16 yards (reception vs. OSU), but the 5'11" 200-pounder has also muscled for three touchdowns inside the opponents' 5-yard line. Curray's season-rushing highs occurred vs. Louisiana Tech (15-124-1 TD); Rice (10-85-1 TD); and SMU (4-72-1 TD).

    Curry leads the team with 165 yards receiving with a robust 41.2 average on his four receptions. He missed both of the Midshipmen's last two outings vs. Wake Forest and Temple with leg injury but is listed as a starter for Saturday with freshman Gee Gee Greene as his potential replacement.

  • Slot-back – Senior #33 Bobby Doyle: Converted quarterback has 102 yards on 19 carries this season. At 5'11" 204 pounds, Doyle ranks as one of the team's best special teams contributors and is a key blocker for the ground attack.
  • Fullback – Junior #47 Vince Murray: The 6'1" 217-pound bruiser leads the Middies in rushing yards (639) averaging 4.7 yards a pop. Murray has posted three consecutive 100-plus yard rushing efforts, doing his damage through the heart of the defense as the first option in the team's disciplined triple-option attack. The junior posted 141 yards and two scores on 25 carries vs. SMU; 175 yards in the rain and slop on 27 attempts vs. Wake Forest; and added 115 yards on 33 carries (with a touchdown) last week in Navy's upset loss to Temple.

    The return of quarterback Ricky Dobbs will likely cut into Murray's yardage and attempts this week vs. the Irish, but Murray has nonetheless established himself as a weapon for which the Irish defense was forced to prepare heading into Saturday's annual matchup.

  • Quarterback – Junior #4 Ricky Dobbs: Due to a Week Seven knee injury, Dobbs missed Navy's Week Eight upset win vs. Wake Forest (a game in which the Midshipmen did not attempt a pass) and played just eight snaps last week vs. Temple. The 6'1" 198-pound conductor of the triple-option ranks second on the squad in rushing with 595 yards (3.5 per carry) and an eye-opening, nation-leading 16 touchdowns.

    Dobbs adds a passing element to Navy's offense that did not exist with backup signal-caller Kriss Proctor. The junior Dobbs, who hurt Notre Dame's defense late with a 40-yard pass completion to the 1-yard line (and subsequent touchdown plunge) in Navy's near-miracle comeback last season vs. the Irish, has completed 50 percent of his passes for 618 yards and three touchdowns (vs. two interceptions). Dobbs burned Ohio State with a 9-13/2 TD/156-yard passing performance in Columbus but did struggle vs. Navy's other nationally-ranked opponent, missing 15 of 21 passes (and suffering six sacks) vs. Pittsburgh.

  • Wide Receiver– Junior #84 Greg Jones: At 5'10" 182 pounds, Jones is adjusting from his role last season as slot back to wide receiver in '09. The junior has three receptions for 67 yards and has carried the rock on three occasions for 34 yards including a 16-yard run on a reverse last week vs. Temple.
  • Wide Receiver – Junior #80 Mike Schupp: 5'10" 176-pound possession receiver has six receptions for 61 yards on the season but his main contribution is as a top tier blocker on the perimeter.

Offensive Linemen

  • Left Tackle – Junior #61 Jeff Battipaglia: 6'4" 256-pounder has started 22 consecutive games at his position after sitting out as a freshman in 2007.
  • Left Guard – Senior #79 Osei Asante: Offensive team captain can also play center. At 6'1" 265 pounds, Asante has started each of Navy's five games this season and played in every contest in 2008.
  • Center – Senior #66 Curtis Bass: Another 22-game starter, the 6'1" 265-pound Bass ranks as one of the strongest players on the squad with a 390-pound bench and 550-pound squat mark.
  • Right Guard – Sophomore #63 David Hong: At 6'3" 278 pounds, Hong posted a team-best 453-pound bench press and has started at right guard in each of the last four contests.
  • Right Tackle– Junior #70 Matt Molloy: Has started 15 consecutive games and earned the reputation as a play-through-the-whistle competitor this season. The 6'3" 260-pound Molloy dropped 20 pounds since the end of 2008 in an effort to become more effective in space. Molloy and Battipaglia are touted as the best Midshipmen tackle tandem in recent memory.

Key Reserves

  • Wide Receiver – Junior #85 Mario Washington: Leads the team with eight receptions and ranks second with 144 receiving yards. The 6'0" 193-pound Washington doubles as the team's top punt returner.
  • Slot-back – Freshman #21 Gee Gee Greene: Has 120 yards on 22 cararies this season and earned his first career start last week vs. Temple. Offers a change-of-pace option at 5'8" 180 pounds and serves as the Midshipmen's chief kick returner, totaling 458 yards on the season (17.6 per attempt). Could start if Curry is still slowed by a leg injury.
  • Fullback – Sophomore #39 Alexander Teich: Won the starting fullback job in the spring but has since been supplanted by the hard-charging Murray. Teich shows quickness in space at 6'0" 212 pounds and fared well vs. both Ohio State (13 carries for 61 yards) and Pittsburgh (12 for 80, though 73 of Teich's yards came in the first half vs. the Panthers.
  • Quarterback – Sophomore #2 Kriss Proctor: Lefty backup guided Navy to a 1-1 mark in his two starts including an upset win over Wake Forest, a game in which the 6'1" 190-pound QB did not attempt a pass (under sloppy, rainy conditions). Proctor ran for 141 yards on 39 carries and scored two touchdowns over the last two contests.
  • Slot-back – Senior #23 Cory Finnerty: Had a 24-yard touchdown run to tie the game last season, 7-7, midway through the second quarter. At 5'10" 185 pounds, Finnerty competes as a perimeter blocker and scored a touchdown this season vs. Louisiana Tech. Serves as Curry's main backup at slot-back.

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