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A strong run game will keep Navy successful

It’s going to be an incredibly tough task for the Navy Midshipmen to do, but if they have any hope of matching last year’s 9-4 season that ended in the Poinsettia Bowl they’re going to have to find somebody to step up and replace graduated quarterback Ricky Dobbs.

Dobbs may have been the most unnoticed elite player the last two years, having over 1,000 passing and 1,000 rushing yards in each. In the last two season Dobbs put up some very impressive number for the Midshipmen’s offense: 2,304 passing yards, 2,558 rushing yards, and 60 total touchdowns.

Year in and year out the Midshipmen always seem to find a guy to line up under center than can be that dual threat player. Before Dobbs is was Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, before him it was Lamar Owens, and before him it was Aaron Polanco. But none of them were nearly as dangerous as Dobbs and none of them were as hard to replace.

Kriss Proctor is slated to start under center and while he is still unproven as a passer his speed should make him a success in Navy's triple offense.

Right now, though, the job looks like it’s going to be Kriss Proctor’s and of all of Navy’s QB’s in the triple-threat era, he may very well be the fastest.

Proctor, a senior, ran the pro agility drill in 4.10 seconds, the fourth-fastest mark on the team. Last season he saw time in eight games and started against Central Michigan, where he lead Navy to a 38-37 victory after rushing for 201 yards and a touchdown. Proctor finished last season with 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns, though he is still unproven as a passer, only throwing the ball five times and gaining 33 yards.

But helping the cause Navy is returning 29 players from last season on offense, including eight starters, four of whom played on the offensive line. Left guard Josh Cabral, center Brady DeMell, right guard John David, and right tackle Ryan Basford were all big reasons why Dobbs had so much success and every one of them are back with loads of experience playing at the collegiate level – three of the four are seniors while the other is a junior.

The only starting spot on the offensive line with a question mark right now is left tackle but the two guys battling for the job, David Sumrall and Andrew Barker, are very experienced players, entering their senior and junior seasons, respectively.

Elsewhere on offense, key returners in the backfield should continue to help give Navy one of the nation’s best running games. When Dobbs handed the ball off it was most often to fullback Alexander Teich, who powered his way forward for 863 yards and five touchdowns. Teich is back for his senior season and slot backs Gee Gee Greene (505 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Aaron Santiago (204 yards, 1 touchdown) are both set for their junior campaigns.

In Navy’s triple-option offense the passing game is almost an afterthought, but that’s what makes it so dangerous. More often than not Navy is going to run the ball but when they do pass opposing defenses get caught off guards, which led to Navy receivers averaging 18.6 yards per game.

Navy is going to miss Greg Jones, who led the team with 33 receptions, 662 yards, and five touchdowns, but Brandon Turner proved to be a big-play guy on the outside, catching four passes for 113 yards (a ridiculous 28.2 yards per catch) and a touchdown. Greene (286 yards), Santiago (251 yards, 3 touchdowns), and Teich (86 yards, 2 touchdowns) should all play a significant role in the passing game as well.

As experienced as the offense is, the defense returns a significant number of players as well – 24 of the 33 players listed on the depth chart. There are significantly more losses to the starting unit as only three are returning for the 2011 season but they were three of the team’s top players.

Leading the defensive unit is defensive end Jabaree Tuani, who recorded 72 tackles last season and led the team with 15.5 tackles for a loss while recording 5.5 sacks. Rover safety Kwesi Mitchell moved around the field where ever he had to be last season but tended to pick the right spots and finished the season with 48 tackles, four pass breakups, and an interception. Inside linebacker Max Blue finished sixth on the team with 58 tackles in eight games but he might have the toughest time keeping his starting job.

Blue has been given a run for his money so far this offseason by junior Matt Brewer and Matt Warrick for the starting jobs in Navy’s 3-4 defense. Brewer played in 11 games last season and Warrick played in only four but both have shown great instincts and incredible improvement in both the spring and fall preseason.

Most of the starting spots on defense are up for grabs but there is plenty of experience to fill those areas. Jared Marks looks to be the front runner for the starting nose tackle job. He played in all 13 games last season, as did Jarred Shannon, who is slated as a starting outside linebacker, and David Wright, who is expected to be the team’s starting left cornerback. All three of them are seniors with three years of varsity experience.

But there does have to be some improvement on the defensive end. Last season they allowed 23.3 points per game, which was fine since the offense averaged 29.7 points per game, but without Dobbs’ explosive play-making ability that number may dip and games may be closer unless the defense can hunker down a bit more.

Navy opens the season this Saturday against Division I-FCS power Delaware but will have a schedule loaded with top tier teams; including South Carolina, Rutgers, East Carolina, Notre Dame, and SMU before taking part in at least the Military Bowl (a bowl game made around the Midshipmen) should they qualify for a Bowl game.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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