- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 6, 2003

It’s hard to find many University of Miami rooters in central Texas, especially in a town minutes from the stadium of a major Division I college football team. But while growing up in Arlington, Texas, 15 miles from Amon G. Carter Stadium, home of the TCU Horned Frogs, Navy freshman wide receiver Jason Tomlinson was a Hurricanes fan.

“I just loved teams that threw the ball,” Tomlinson said.

He went to one TCU game in high school after a player with a familiar name — LaDainian Tomlinson (no relation) — had moved on to the NFL. Today Navy’s Tomlinson will make his second trip to Carter Stadium, this time hoping to help the Midshipmen upset No.25 TCU.

A typical freshman at the Naval Academy doesn’t see home until Thanksgiving at the earliest, and a freshman football player on the varsity squad won’t see home until the first semester is over in December. Tomlinson, though, gets to go home the second week of the season.

“Winning the game is the first and only thing I’m worried about now,” he said. “After the game I’ll see about spending some time with my family, but it would be a much better time if we won.”

His game fits the Miami mold: a quick receiver with good hands and awareness who is a constant deep threat. He had three catches in his first game for the Midshipmen, including a 47-yard completion that was the team’s longest play of the day, in a 37-10 rout of Virginia Military Institute.

That big play capability will be key today as Navy faces a team that has had one of the best defenses in the nation the past two years.

With the Mids’ triple-option offense focusing on the ground game, the ability to stretch the field will be crucial in preventing the Horned Frogs’ defense from keying solely on the run. That defense boasts a front six of seniors led by Bo Schobel at defensive end. Schobel is the cousin of two previous TCU standouts now playing in the NFL and is looking to have a season that will make him the third Schobel in the NFL.

“I think our guys understand that if we execute correctly that we can move the ball on whoever we play,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “But you have to make the right reads. You have to go to the right people and do those things. We have to go out and make what we do work.”

The Mids put up 370 rushing yards against VMI, but there is no comparison between the Keydets’ defense and a TCU unit that allowed fewer than 300 total yards a game last year.

The VMI game did provide a front-runner at the fullback position. Junior Kyle Eckel had a career day against the Keydets, rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns to establish himself as today’s starter. Junior Michael Brimage, the preseason favorite at fullback, may see his first action of the season after sitting out last week with a foot injury.

The Horned Frogs had a short week to prepare for the Mids after their prime-time 38-35 victory over Tulane on Labor Day, but coach Gary Patterson made preseason adjustments to counter the five-day week.

“We started working on [defensive assignments] in the spring and did it in two-a-days,” Patterson said. “We knew we couldn’t get ready for Navy in just a few days. We have to make sure we can take away the fullback, then the quarterback and then the pitch. What we can’t let them do is get an easy throw to someone we’re not paying attention to.”

Tomlinson is hoping he’s the receiver the Horned Frogs won’t be watching.

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