- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

It has been nearly 100 years since Navy approached a season after winning 10 games in the previous one. But instead of opening fall practice today with the usual glitz and glamour of Media Day — which also would have been a way to celebrate the Midshipmen’s superlative 2004 campaign — the Mids will … practice.

The low-key start befits the Mids’ blue-collar approach but is not intentional. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is being outfitted with a new FieldTurf playing surface to replace natural grass.

“It’s always exciting when you get started, and I’m excited to get cranked up,” coach Paul Johnson said. “We’re getting a lot of off-the-field things accomplished [Thursday].”

Though the Mids finished last season by thrashing Rutgers, Army and winning the Emerald Bowl against New Mexico, there is much work to be done between today and Sept. 3, when Navy meets Maryland in Baltimore. The Mids lost nine starters on offense and eight on defense, as well as needing a replacement for departed kicker Geoff Blumenfeld.

Not only are there plenty of starting jobs open, so are reserve roles for a program that lost 36 seniors from 2004. Also not returning is starting cornerback Hunter Reddick, who decided to leave the academy.

“It was [a bit of surprise] in a way,” Johnson said. “But you know what, Hunter didn’t want to be there, and I wish him the best. I don’t dwell on that. Somebody else will play. It’s just like he got hurt, in my mind.”

Another obstacle is an early schedule that does no favors for the young squad. Last season the Mids opened with Duke and Division I-AA Northeastern. This year they begin with Maryland and Stanford.

One problem Johnson won’t have is assimilating new coaching staff members. For the third consecutive year, his entire staff returns.

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