Navy Midshipmen vs Delaware Fightin Blue Hens Football Preview
When the Navy Midshipmen open the 2011 campaign against an FCS opponent, they will not be playing a typical payout game against a cupcake opponent. The Delaware Blue Hens were up 19-0 late in the third quarter of last year’s FCS championship game before falling 20-19 to Eastern Washington with Vice President (and proud alum) Joe Biden looking on. Delaware even defeated Navy a few years ago in a contentious series these teams are renewing to start the new college football season.
Navy, if it’s humanly possible to say so, didn’t really do all that well in its 9-4 season last year. That’s how high the bar has been set in Annapolis. The Midshipmen made untimely mistakes in losses to Maryland and Air Force, and they were outclassed by both Duke and San Diego State as well. Surrendering the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to Air Force cut deep on the Navy campus. Another win over Army and another bowl bid restored a considerable amount of luster to the season, but the larger reality was that after a series of seasons in which everything seemed to go right, the Midshipmen finally tasted a little bit of adversity… more, at any rate, than what they’ve been accustomed to. The team didn’t win every close game, and it didn’t pick off every beatable opponent. The home-field setback to Duke, in which Navy’s secondary got torched by the Blue Devils’ offense, represented an unfathomable letdown game for a team that has normally been able to guard against such slip-ups. Navy teetered on the brink of defeat at home to a poor Central Michigan team, but was able to escape when CMU’s last-minute try after touchdown failed.
Navy is moving on with life without Ricky Dobbs, the quarterback who joined with coach Ken Niumatololo to bring the program to the place it inhabits, a place where standards are high and CIC trophies are expected. Luckily for the Midshipmen, they return a bevy of experience in the backfield with Alexander Teich, Aaron Santiago, and Gee Gee Greene, who combined for 1,556 rushing yards last season. While Dobbs accounted for nearly half of Navy’s offense last season, senior Kriss Proctor – who periodically stepped in whenever Dobbs got dinged up – will take the reins this season. Proctor has gained an appreciable about of repetitions and will not be entering the season cold turkey. He is a battle-tested quarterback who should allow the offense to function in very capable hands. In his lone start last season, Proctor rushed for 201 yards and threw for 33 more in the win over Central Michigan, giving hope that he can keep Navy’s triple-option attack running like a machine. All this could spell trouble for Delaware, a team that – while giving up only 12 points per game last season – loses eight starters on defense.
If Delaware can keep Navy from eating up the entire clock with its rushing game, its best chance is its own run game. The Blue Hens return four offensive linemen and running back Andrew Pierce, who rushed for 1,730 yards as a freshman last season. Navy struggled early last season (and on its home field) against another FCS powerhouse, escaping with a narrow 13-7 win over Georgia Southern. If Delaware is allowed to stick around, the defending FCS runner-up could make life very uncomfortable for a Navy team that needs to get its groove back.
By: Matt Zemek
Copyright 2005-2011, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.