- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 15, 2005

Navy’s youthful secondary is banged up, reconfigured and about to face one of its toughest tests of the season.

Not that the Midshipmen haven’t been challenged so far. Navy has faced some good pass catchers — from Maryland tight end Vernon Davis to tall wideouts Evan Moore of Stanford and Jason Brown of Air Force.

The Mids (2-2) face pass-happy Kent State (1-4) at Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium today. The Golden Flashes like to spread teams out and throw it around. They average 50 pass attempts and nearly 300 yards a game.

“I compare it to playing against the option,” Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. “You’ve got to be disciplined with your option keys. Here, you’ve got to be disciplined in your pass drops and pass key coverages. You’ve got to stay at home so you don’t get beat on the deep ball, and you’ve got to break on the short routes.”

The reshuffling of the Navy secondary began before the season when starting cornerback Hunter Reddick left school and eventually transferred to Maryland. Then two weeks ago, starter Jeremy McGown broke his left arm against Duke.

Last weekend, the Mids had two new starters: freshman corner Rashawn King and sophomore safety Dell Robinson. A third member of the group, sophomore Keenan Little, moved to corner from safety. Robinson replaced sophomore Greg Sudderth, who had an injured shoulder. Sudderth is healthy now, while Robinson is nicked up and may not play.

Junior safety DuJuan Price has been the only constant in the group. Either sophomore Greg Thrasher or freshman Ketric Buffin will play a lot as the fifth defensive back. Because the Golden Flashes utilize four- and five-receiver sets, Green will use his nickel defense more than usual.

His nickel package differs a bit from a traditional 4-2-5 alignment. Instead of adding a defensive lineman to the usual 3-4, Green takes one away. One or both of the outside linebackers can put a hand on the ground and act as down linemen.

“We move a lot of people around and try to use a lot of different people in different spots on the defensive line,” Green said. “If you look at our line, there’s not a whole lot of difference inside to outside. We don’t have what you would call ‘big guys.’”

While the Golden Flashes average 43.4 yards a game on the ground and 2.0 an attempt, Navy still must stop the run first with its smaller lineup. Conversely, the Mids offense could help the defense by churning out long drives and playing keep away.

“If they get 20 possessions, then one of two things will happen,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s either going to be 100-82, or they will beat the fool out of us.”

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