ANNAPOLIS | Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green doesn’t sugarcoat his unit’s shortcomings from a year ago.
He doesn’t use early season injuries to linebacker Clint Sovie and safety Jeff Deliz, the defense’s two best players, as an excuse for the a unit that finished 99th in total defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2007.
He knows the Midshipmen’s defense has to get better each day. As preseason camp wrapped up this week, Green said he looked forward to the test Towson will give his revamped unit.
“Towson is very talented,” he said. “[Senior quarterback Sean Schaefer] has got a strong arm. They’ve got pro prospects in the receiving core that can go get it. They have the type of offense where they can hit you quick with something or go deep on you. I’m very impressed with the operation of their offense.”
The Tigers run an offense based in the spread. Schaefer, who has amassed 8,358 yards and 51 touchdowns in his three years at Towson, routinely has four or five targets on every play.
The Mids’ defense last year yielded 263.4 passing yards a game. Three opposing quarterbacks eclipsed 400 yards passing against Navy - Duke’s Thaddeus Lewis (428), Delaware’s Joe Flacco (434), and North Texas’ Giovanni Vizza (478).
But armed with more experience and the return of Sovie and Deliz, the beleaguered unit was the surprise of preseason camp. They overmatched the Mids’ potent offense in three scrimmages.
Despite showing improvements on the practice field, Navy’s defense has not fully regained its confidence and anticipates the matchup with Towson another step in doing so.
“There’s a little bit of doubt with our defense still,” Deliz said. “How are we going to be able to come out after the year we had last year? It was good to see we got better every game last year, but now, we want to take it upon ourselves to control games as opposed to the offense doing it all the time. We’re looking forward to it. We’re kinda playing with a chip on our shoulders.”
Although the Mids’ defense garnered positive reviews from coaches and the media, the memories of surrendering 473 points last season still haunt it. Only a strong performance on Saturday will convince them that last year’s disaster is in the past.
“This game is gonna show us where we’re at, show us how far we’ve come,” cornerback Rashawn King said. “Everybody says we’ve gotten better, but its time to stop talking and see what the deal is.”