Only the Independents remain in my look around the country and since I will be finishing it up with a dedicated post on Notre Dame then Army and Navy get one of their own as well. I have the utmost respect for all of our service academies as they are home to some of the best and brightest young Americans our country has to offer. Upon graduation they will move on to become the next generation of military leaders. It doesn’t get better than that. In the mean time they do play football and I have to say I enjoy watching them do it.
Army- The Black Knights haven’t had a winning season since 1996 but new Head Coach Rich Ellerson has other ideas. Ellerson brings in a triple option offense that he ran very effectively at Cal Poly. Ellerson and his system are exactly what the Black Knights need to get competitive. As far as systems go there isn’t a better one for an undersized team of highly intelligent and motivated players. To get themselves back in the mix for the Commander In Chief’s Trophy, and potentially a winning season Army will need to grasp Ellerson’s offense quickly. It won’t happen over night but they should improve on the 3 wins they managed in 2008 and could quite possibly reach as many as 6 victories. I do hope they retire the camouflage unis though. Oregon didn't have anything on those!
Navy- Navy heads into 2009 having won 8 or more games for 6 straight seasons. Paul Johnson truly did wonders for the Navy program and in 2008 Ken Niumatalolo picked up right where Johnson left off. The Mids return only 4 starters on offense but 3 of them are on the offensive line. They also have QB Ricky Dobbs taking over full time in 2009 and he has the ability to really make the Navy offense go. Dobbs has the ability to be a dynamic play maker in this offense and I expect he will pull it off. The defense returns 7 starters from a unit that allowed only 22ppg in 2008 which will help Dobbs and the rest of the offense find their groove early. Navy plays a tough schedule that includes Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and Notre Dame so maintaining the 8 win streak in 2009 will be difficult but I don’t ever count these guys out. As a side note the Mids travel some of the best fans in all of college football. I really enjoy visiting with them every chance I get.