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Eagles look for FBS win, Mids seek redemption

Eagles look for FBS win, Mids seek redemption

Eagles look for FBS win, Mids seek redemption


Navy began the season with high expectations.
    First, there was going to be 10 wins, perhaps an undefeated season. A Heisman Trophy candidacy for quarterback Ricky Dobbs.    
    A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. A funny thing called Maryland.
    The underdog Terrapins, coming off a 2-10 season, took advantage of numerous Midshipmen mistakes and pinned a crushing 17-14 season opening loss on Navy last Monday.
    The Middies did everything but win the football game. They totaled 485 yards offense, 412 rushing. They had the ball for 39 minutes 25 seconds. The defense limited Maryland 272 yards, had a sack and a fumble recovery and an interception.
    However, despite being able to run the ball at will when it needed a yard Navy couldn’t get it.
    “They ran the play they wanted,” said Georgia Southern Coach Jeff Monken. “They had two missed assignments. Otherwise they would have won the game.”
    The play Navy ran was a keeper by Dobbs at the one yard line with 37 seconds to play. Dobbs was stopped 12 inches short of the goal line.
    And, with that Navy expectations took on a different look.
    The Midshipmen were plagued by uncharacteristic mistakes. Dobbs fumbled the ball three times inside the Terrapin six yard line, and that proved to be the difference in the game.
    “I can’t remember a time when we rushed for 400 yards and lost a ball game,” second year Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We should have had 31 points.”
     Navy will be looking to get back on track Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium when it takes on Georgia Southern (1-0). It will be the first meeting in football between the two schools.
    Monken and quarterbacks coach Mitch Ware, however, are quite familiar with the Naval Academy.
    Monken spent six years as a Navy assistant on Paul Johnson’s staff, and Ware was the offensive coordinator for four years under former coach Charlie Weatherbie.
    On the other hand several Navy coaches have ties to either Georgia Southern or Georgia.
    Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper, offensive line coach Chris Culton and wide receivers coach Danny O’Rourke all were assistants at Georgia Southern under Johnson when Monken was on the staff.
    Culton graduated from GSU in 2001. He was a student coach for four years after having his career ended by injury during his freshman year. O’Rourke was on Chris Hatcher’s staff at Valdosta State when Johnson hired him seven years ago.
    Tony Grantham, the Mids’ linebackers coach, is the brother of University of Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
    However, while it will be a reunion of sorts for the coaches it will last only until kickoff, Monken said.
    “They’re all close friends of mine,” Monken said. “Kenny texted me congratulations right after our game Saturday night.
    “We’re all like brothers,” Monken said, “but when the football’s kicked off the only thing we’ll be wanting to do is win the game.”
    In order to do that the Eagle defense is going to have to play an outstanding game against an offense the likes of which it sees every day in practice.
    Both teams run the triple option, with Dobbs, a stout 5-foot-11, 190 pound senior from Douglasville, Ga., running the show.
    Dobbs set a touchdown record for quarterbacks last year when he scored 27 in leading Navy to a 10-4 mark climaxed by a 35-13 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl.
    The Mids have 14 starters back, seven from a defense that was 18th in the nation in points allowing, giving up only 19.4 points per game.
    It was in 2002, Johnson and Monken’s first year at Navy, that the Mids went 2-10. Now they are seeking their eighth straight season with eight or more wins and an eighth consecutive bowl bid.
    Navy is similar to the Eagles in that it will not overwhelm anyone on size, but rather relies on speed and quickness. Georgia Southern starting tackles, Brett Moore and Dorian Byrd, weigh 252 and 241 pounds, respectively. Navy starts senior Jeff Battipaglia at 256, and senior Matt Malloy at 260.
    Fullback Vince Murray is a 217-pound straight ahead runner who had 112 yards on 14 carries against Maryland. Slotback Gee Gee Greene had 74 on seven carries.

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