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Mids defense experiences ups and downs
Question of the Day
When Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green isn’t happy with his players’ effort at practice, he makes them do up-downs.
All 11 players stand in a circle and run quickly in place before dropping face-first to the turf. Repeated enough and it is a sore reminder of Green’s expectation level.
There were plenty of up-downs on the sideline during Navy’s second preseason scrimmage yesterday, a sure sign that Green wasn’t pleased. Navy’s offense dominated the early stages of the workout, which drew about 3,000 fans to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“They ran the ball right down our throat and then it got a little better after that,” Green said. “It’s a case of you’ve got to come out and not wait until the second, third, fourth time. You’ve got to come out ready to go.”
The first-team offense marched the ball 70 yards for a touchdown (90 including penalty yardage) on its first possession, and it was the Adam Ballard Show. Ballard, a senior fullback who missed part or all of four games last season with injuries, looked in mid-season form barreling through the middle of the defense.
He had 10 carries for 79 yards on the first drive, then played little the rest of the day.
“I think [Ballard] has had a really good camp and is playing really well,” coach Paul Johnson said. “I would expect him to. He needs to be a good player for us.”
The top four quarterbacks passed the ball with surprising efficiency. Junior Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada piloted the offense for two series — the opening touchdown and a drive that ended with kicker Matt Harmon narrowly missing a 51-yard field goal. He ran for only nine yards on six carries, but he did complete three of four passes for 34 yards.
Backups Jarod Bryant (4-for-5 for 50 yards), Troy Goss (3-for-6 for 49 yards) and Ricky Dobbs (3-for-5 for 50 yards and a touchdown) also threw the ball well.
Ballard had the best rushing day, but reserves fullback Kevin Campbell and slotback Scott Oswald also acclimated themselves well when given the opportunity.
Johnson said he felt the offense lost some intensity and focus as the scrimmage progressed, but it might have also been the defense’s improvement. There were three drives ended by lost fumbles and more lost plays because of botched assignments as the morning wore on.
Sophomore linebacker Matt Nechak was one of the bright spots for the defense with eight tackles (two for loss) and a sack.
“They’re always behind schedule,” Green said. “I’ve never had a defense that was ahead of schedule — only the same schedule that I wanted them to be on. But we are definitely behind schedule. We’ve got a long way to go between now and Temple.”
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