- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Navy’s football team will play one final home game tonight.

The Midshipmen “play host to” Colorado State in the inaugural Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Navy sold its entire 20,000-ticket allotment for the game by Saturday night and had to refer other requests to bowl organizers. Given the majority of tickets sold by the Poinsettia office went to U.S. Navy personnel, an expected crowd of more than 45,000 will be heavily in the Mids’ corner.

“We’re excited about that. I think we should have a good crowd,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s a reward for the players. Hopefully it will be fun for the guys.”

Navy’s ticket-selling prowess for postseason contests has made it an attractive commodity for any bowl game with an opening, but the large Navy and Marine Corps presence in the San Diego area made the Mids a slam-dunk choice. Thanks in large part to the Navy connection, the fledgling postseason game will be a financial success this year.

But for the Mids to make the trip to sunny San Diego a success, they will need to do two things — exploit the nation’s 104th-ranked rush defense and slow an inconsistent offense that — when it clicks — rivals some of the best units in the country.

Navy’s option offense has piled up 495 and 531 yards of total offense in the past two games. The Mids possess the nation’s top-rated rushing attack, averaging nearly 306 yards.

Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick was the defensive coordinator at Miami before taking the job in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1993. But this is not one of his best defenses. The Rams are yielding 200.6 yards a game on the ground.

“Coach Lubick does a great job of coaching defense. He always has,” Johnson said. “I’m sure they will be well prepared.”

Colorado State allowed 227 rushing yards against option-heavy Air Force but countered with an impressive offensive assault of its own in a 41-23 victory.

The Rams’ offense is led by an outstanding trio of skill players. Quarterback Justin Holland has thrown for 2,804 and 20 touchdowns; one more will set a school record. His top wideout, David Anderson, has 77 catches for 1,095 yards. Both should expect to hear their names called during April’s NFL Draft.

When the Rams’ offense has stalled, it usually means there was trouble for tailback Kyle Bell. The bruising sophomore finished the season with 1,166 yards, including 197 in the aforementioned contest against Air Force.

“I was watching that [Air Force] game and thinking how good their tailback Bell was, but then you look at the stats and they still throw the ball for 250 yards a game,” Navy linebacker Tyler Tidwell said. “They’re very well-balanced, and we’re going to have to try and make them one-dimensional. The games they’ve lost have been when other teams have shut the rushing game down.”



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