Monday, June 1, 2009

BUCKEYES FB 2009 PREVIEW: NAVY


Ohio State hasn't played a team from the armed forces since the 1990 Liberty Bowl, where the Buckeyes were bombed by the Air Force Academy and quarterback Rob Perez, 23-11, in Memphis, Tennessee.

After a nearly 20-year hiatus, the Bucks will do battle once again with the armed forces, as they host the Naval Academy in the season opener on September 5 at Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes haven't faced Navy since the 1981 Liberty Bowl, where quarterback Art Schlichter led OSU to a 31-28 victory with two touchdown passes. The Buckeyes are 3-0 all-time against the Midshipman.

Unless the Middies are allowed to bring in the seals, OSU should move to 4-0.

Navy, which finished 8-5 overall in 2008, possessed the nation's No. 1 rushing attack last season, as running backs' Shun White and Eric Kettani, along with quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (the best name in sports) combined for 2,369 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.

Unfortunately for the Midshipman, those three ground pounders are no longer in Annapolis.

Navy only returns four starters on offense this season and will rely heavily on new quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who saw some good action in 2008, finishing the season with 498 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. Many around the program state that Dobbs gives Navy a better passing threat than his predecessor.

However, with just four returning starters and a solid OSU defense standing in their way, the Naval Academy offense should be held at bay during their battle at the Horseshoe.

The Midshipman do have plenty of experience returning on the defensive side of the football. Navy returns seven starters on defense, including their star linebacker Ross Pospisil, who led the team with 106 tackles in 2008. The Midshipman did have some quality wins over Wake Forest and Rutgers last season, but what they will face on September 5 in Columbus is something they're not used to seeing.

Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor should get some good reps during the game and the rest of the Buckeyes should get quality work before their much anticipated primetime battle with USC a week later.

Let's face it — Navy presents a much better tune up bout than Youngstown State, that's for sure.