Sizing up the Midshipmen

By By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

The Navy Midshipmen enter the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on the heels of a historic season.

Head coach Paul Johnson led his football team to its first victory over Notre Dame in 44 tries and to its record sixth consecutive triumph over archrival Army.

Navy (8-4) does most of its damage on the ground with its triple-option offense. The top rushing offense in the country boasts seven players who have run more than 400 yards this season. The Midshipmen are led by quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who is known simply as Kaipo. The junior ran for 782 yards this season while throwing for 830 yards and tallied 17 total touchdowns.

In Navy’s triple-overtime win against Notre Dame on Nov. 3, Kaipo found running back Reggie Campbell for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The two combined for the two-point conversion as well, putting the Midshipmen up for good.

Campbell is Kaipo’s favorite target this season. The two have hooked up 12 times for four scores.

Campbell is a do-all back for Navy. The senior leads the team with more than 1,800 all-purpose yards. He ran for 464 yards in addition to his 213 receiving yards, but his biggest contribution might be on special teams.

The running back also scored two touchdowns on kickoff returns this season, the second of which came against Army for a school record 98 yards.

As well as Navy’s offense has played this season, the same cannot be said for its defense.

The Midshipmen defense ranks 109th out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in points allowed, as teams have averaged 36 points per game against them.

Freshman safety Wyatt Middleton leads the Midshipmen with 85 tackles. Senior linebacker Irv Spencer tallied 82 tackles this year while sacking opposing quarterbacks 7.5 times.

Five teams ran more than 200 yards against Navy this season. Temple and Duke are the only two opponents not to rush for at least 100 yards. Duke was one of three teams to gain more than 400 yards through the air against Navy.

Nevertheless, Navy’s performance this season has led to speculation that Johnson will be a hot commodity in the coaching market this offseason. His modernization of the triple-option attack has sparked Navy and led them to a school-record fifth straight bowl game.

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