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A View From The Booth: Navy at Western Kentucky

Navy sophomore Jamel Dobbs.

Sept. 9, 2011

By Bob Socci

When the alarm is set for four in the morning, as mine was today, sentences are spoken and written a little less coherently.  Come to think of it, organizing enough words to form a paragraph is trying enough after a good night’s sleep.

So, beyond the next line or two or three, there’s no sense even bothering.  Aboard a flight bound from Boston to BWI, in order catch a ‘connecting’ charter carrying the Navy Midshipmen to Western Kentucky for Saturday night’s football encounter, I’ll simply share the words of others.

Following are some observations from, about and related to the Mids, this week’s opponent and a few future no particular order.

NAVY HEAD COACH Ken Niumatalolo

On WKU junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes, who’s yet to duplicate the kind of performance he enjoyed at Navy in his 2009 starting debut, after shifting from a spread attack to the West Coast offense:

“He has a strong arm and can hurt you with play-(action) pass.  He’s still dangerous when the play breaks down.  We have to find a way to keep him contained.”

On the Mids’ rebuilt secondary, featuring three new starters, as well as a position change for the group’s most experienced member, Kwesi Mitchell:

“It was a very impressive start (vs. Delaware).  I feel confident knowing who’s coaching them (Buddy Green and Keith Jones).  I think this group is as athletic as any group we’ve ever had.  David Wright and David Sperry at corner (have) what you’re looking for: their athleticism and their length, (as) lanky guys with long arms.  And Kwesi’s probably one of the fastest guys on the team, playing at one safety, and Shawn Lynch at the other safety, is another rangy guy in the mold of Wyatt (Middleton).  From a physical standpoint we like our guys back there.



“When we go to our ‘nickel’ package, Tra’ves Bush is our best tackler.  They played with great confidence.

“One thing that helps is that they’re all in the same (meeting) room.  Sometimes safeties and corners might meet separately.  Buddy does a great job of cross-training people.  We make sure we have the best people on the field.

“When we go to our ‘nickel’ package, Tra’ves Bush is our best tackler.  They played with great confidence.

On the defensive tandem of captain Jabaree Tuani at one defensive end and sophomore Jamel Dobbs at the other:

“Dobbs has all the tools.  The scary thing about him is that he can get a lot better.  He’s so talented.  Jabaree (Tuani) and Jamel are as athletic and strong as we have.  They’re both very explosive.  He’s got to play with a different effort level.  We feel like he will.

“(Jabaree) is a difference maker.  There are a lot of good players, (but) very few difference makers.  He changes games.”


Dobbs on his performance last Saturday vs. the Blue Hens:

“If I was going to grade myself, it would be a ‘C’.  I made some good plays, but at the same time I saw some things I reviewed on the film...just playing faster with my hands and, mentally, just making sure I approach every play like it was the first play of the game.”  

Junior Matt Brewer on how he prepared himself to seize an inside linebacker's job this season, after excelling in the past on special teams:

“I still prepared like I was going to get in the game at anytime, even though the coaches probably didn’t think I was going to get in the game.  Every play on special teams, I tried to give it my all.

Senior wide receiver Doug Furman, one of the Mids’ most respected leaders, on setting an example for younger teammates the way predecessors once did the same for him:

“I just draw from the leaders ahead of me, guys like Jarrod Bryant, Joe Taylor Tyree Barnes, Kaipo-Noa (Kaheaku-Enhada) and Ross Pospisil.  I thought about leaving after my freshman year.  What made me stay were the guys on the team. 

“I looked up to them and I saw what kind of athlete and person I could be in the future.  They were guys I wanted to be like.  I said to myself that I will be a leader like they are for (me).  It’s truly about the guys and me, just that bond.”

And Furman on his recent address to the team about persevering through the adversity every young Mid encounters and staying the course at the Naval Academy:

“I gave advice in my speech to be thankful for unanswered prayers at night.  There’s no way that the friendships we build here are just coincidence.”


Two cups of Starbucks -- Pike Place at Logan and Anniversary Blend at BWI -- have emboldened me to type a few of my own thoughts.  So please indulge me on a brief detour to plug Saturday’s network pre-game show.  

We’re scheduled to go on the air from Bowling Green at 6:05 p.m.  For stations in your listening area, as the saying goes, check your local listings (funny, in 15 years on the Navy Radio Network, I can’t recall ever actually uttering those words).  You can also join us on the internet via Navy All-Access or, lest one forget, tune in your Sirius/XM satellite radio.

Featured this week on our second installment of Midshipmen Spotlight is women’s soccer captain Kate Herren.  Last Saturday, as you may know, we introduced men’s soccer captain Sam Miller.  

If, like many fans of full-contact, full-collision American football, you regard futbolers to be a bit fragile, Miller should make you reconsider.  In a sport a.k.a. The Beautiful Game, and played by amateur thespians often seen diving on the pitch in hopes of drawing fouls on opponents, Miller dispels the stereotypes commonly held by non-soccer devotees.

He owns a 3.95 grade-point average to rank near the top of his class.  And sometime in the next month or two, he hopes to service select Explosive Ordnance Disposal.


“What brought me to the Academy was its focus on developing midshipmen as moral, mentally-capable and physically-capable people,” says Miller, out of Tulsa, Okla.  “Instead of, as most universities do, relying on (only) developing their students academically.  Along with that, being at the Naval Academy means you’re a part of something so much greater than yourself.  So if I were able to serve as an E.O.O., I would be able to continue serving others and doing a very fulfilling mission.”

Imagine, unlike in his sport, Miller hope to be ‘hands on’ in the future, disposing of explosives.  Judging by his success so far in Annapolis, if Miller gets his wish, the men and women he’ll protect in the future figure to be in good hands. 


A few thoughts on the fly, so to speak:

  • It’s only Week 2 of the season, and already three future Navy opponents have made changes at quarterback.  After a loss to South Florida, Notre Dame’s Dayne Crist is out; Tommy Rees is in this weekend at Michigan.  Kyle Padron of SMU got bumped after the Mustangs were thumped by Texas A&M in favor of J.J. McDermott.  And next week’s opponent, South Carolina goes with Stephen Garcia, who relieved Connor Shaw to rally the Gamecocks from a 17-0 deficit to a 56-37 rout of East Carolina.
  • Considering the Mids’ non-football conference affiliation and my own relationship calling basketball on television, I read the Boston Globe with amusement this morning.  On the subject of whether there’s truly a distinction between making the playoffs as a wildcard or division champion, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon -- a Lafayette College man, no less -- had this to say:  “We want to put up that flag that says ‘AL East champions.’  This isn’t the Patriot League.”  Uh Joe, I love the glasses, your taste for wine and those ear muffs you asked to have stitched to your cap (notice, I didn’t mention your commercial); however, I’ve been to every Patriot League gym and the only banners I’ve seen hanging denote championships.
  • Last year, when Army recorded its first winning season since 1996, the Black Knights ranked third nationally in turnover margin (+1.23 per game).  But in last week’s 49-26 loss at Northern Illlinois, Army committed three giveaways, two of which resulted in touchdowns.  They’re the principle reasons why, in a span of just 3 1/2 minutes, the Huskies turned a 7-6 advantage into a 28-6 lead.  The Black Knights host San Diego State tomorrow.
  • Air Force takes on TCU, which opens its final Mountain West Conference schedule trying to rebound from a 50-48 loss at Baylor.  The Horned Frogs, who are 39-4 in their last 43 games overall, have not suffered back-to-back losses since 2007.  Meanwhile, the Falcons beat South Dakota, 37-20, in their opener.  They’ve lost to TCU, 20-17, each of their last two meetings in Colorado Springs.

Please join Bob, Omar Nelson and Pete Medhurst for live coverage of Saturday’s game between the Midshipmen and Western Kentucky.  Air time is 6:05 (check your local listings!).

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