FB Eric Kettani

2007 Statistics

Coach: Ken Niumatalolo
1st year
2007 Record: 8-5
at Temple WON 30-19
at Rutgers LOST 24-41
DUKE WON 46-43
at Pittsburgh WON 48-45 (2OT)
at Notre Dame WON 46-44 (3OT)
at North Texas WON 74-62
NIU WON 35-24
vs. Army WON 38-3
Utah LOST 32-35

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

The biggest worry for Rear Admirals around the world is that their alma mater will not continue on its current five-year bowl streak (2-3). That’s because no other era of Naval gridiron action has been this prosperous – ever. We’re talking five-straight Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies and six-straight wins over rival Army. And Navy fans - knowing it all came to be because of Paul Johnson’s superior running schemes, and knowing that this mentor has moved on to Georgia Tech - realize that it could all mean the end of the recent prosperity. It has sirens going off in Annapolis’s gathering places. What will happen to their record setting offense?

Simply put, little, if nothing, will change. Assistant head coach Ken Niumatalolo bumps up from the precision he’s brought to the offensive line(s) and now sits atop their Pigskin ranks. Breaking the Samoan coaching barrier is its own accomplishment, but more directly applicable is his commitment to keep what is already in place as his chosen attack, the triple option. If anyone knows it as well as its innovator, it’s Niumatalolo. He has QB coach Ivin Jasper bumping into Johnson’s coordinator’s chair. With QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada returning for a rare third season here and the backfield full of vets, there is no reason Navy shouldn’t again top the FBS team rushing ranks.

Averaging 39+ points per game means the Midshipmen can outscore many opponents and win with offense. That’s mainly because allowing an average of 36+ means the defense forces such. Getting the ball last is often the key to grinding out the clock for that final go-ahead score which cannot be answered. Big comebacks will still be hard to find. Six foes went over the 40-point barrier, with one of them (Delaware, an FCS-/I-AA-level team) going over 50 and another (North Texas) breaking 60. Prospects of the defense stepping up are hard to find since JUCO transfers and other influxes of talent aren’t part of the equation here…working with what’s in place means only the safeties look improved. Really, the line should also hold its own, but in the 3-4 approach, the DL can only do so much. To sum it up from another statistical angle, the Middie’s 51% conversion rate on offensive third-downs basically only offsets the fact that they allow foes to convert 47.5% of their third-downs. Muddling around just outside the Top 25 will continue as long as the Naval offense and defense are diametrically opposite each other in effect.

Stopping the nation’s longest single-game losing streak wasn’t easy, but beating Notre Dame was cathartic after three overtime sessions halted 35 years of frustration(s). Only three times has Navy put together a series’ best two-game win-streak over Notre Dame, a likely repeated scenario since the Irish are still unproven and the game is in neighboring Baltimore.

A total of five BCS opponents are slated; Navy is 5-3 in regular season games versus such high level foes over the last two campaigns. Four foes in 2008 reached bowl games last year. Reaching ten wins – a feat only twice accomplished, in 1905 and most recently during Johnson’s tenure in 2004 – is a realistic goal. Limiting the losses to three or less seems to be the only way Navy finds itself in the final polls.

Navy has been able to find consistency with a dated approach. Doing such in an era when other teams are recruiting circles around them proves every adage pertaining to teamwork overcoming superior individual talent levels. This is one area where the U.S. Navy is still considered an underdog, and what they do to overcome it all reflects the fortitude of our service academies. Regardless of your politics in wartime, supporting the Naval gridiron troops just makes sense.

Projected 2008 record: 7-5
LB Clint Sovie
QB - 4 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 2 DB - 3
OL - 3 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 55-98-5, 952 yds., 8 TD

Rushing: Eric Kettani, 152 att., 880 yds., 10 TD

Receiving: Tyree Barnes, 10 rec., 168 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 12 TD, 2 two-pt. conv., 76 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Matt Harmon, 6-10 FG, 15-15 PAT, 33 pts.

Tackles: Wyatt Middleton, 88 tot., 57 solo

Sacks: Michael Walsh, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Ketric Buffin, 4 for 53 yds.

Kickoff returns: Emmett Merchant, 2 ret., 43.5 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Bobby Doyle, 1 ret., 7.0 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Adam Ballard-FB, Zerbin Singleton-SB, Reggie Campbell-SB, O.J. Washington-WR, Josh Meek-OT, Antron Harper-C, Ben Gabbard-OG, Paul Bridgers-OT, Joey Bullen-K
DEFENSE: Chris Kuhar-Pitters-DE, Irv Spencer-ILB, Matt Wimsatt-OLB, Greg Thrasher-FS, Greg Veteto-P

Saying goodbye to Paul Johnson doesn’t mean the proverbial baby was thrown out with the bathwater. Just like in the service, the natural order of succession has seen each coaching vacancy filled by the right understudy. That means the same offensive scheme Johnson championed will stay in place. Ken Niumatalolo was the assistant head coach who headed the integral line play responsible for Navy leading the nation in rushing an NCAA record three years straight. Now in charge, Niumatalolo bumps QB coach Ivin Jasper into the coordinator’s chair. Jasper has the distinction of taking four different QBs to four straight bowl games, a testimonial to his motivational abilities from year to year amidst annual collegiate turnover (that plagues Navy more than most since they rarely play underclassmen and since this is war time). The triple option was never in such good hands.

That sentiment carries over to QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who breaks the trend and returns as a junior for his third year at the helm. Handling the intricacies of deploying three backs (not including the QB) doesn’t come easy. Senior Kaheaku-Enhada was the top ground gainer (second in net results) and would have finished seventh nationally in pass efficiency (154.46) if he had thrown it enough times. His 9.7 yards per pass attempt was the tops for any starting QB, and he lost less than 20 yards in 170+ rushes (if you take away his sack numbers). Classmate Jarod Bryant will leave after this year, too, but the former three-time 6A Alabama prep gridiron champ is a natural leader who is too good not to field (had the fourth-most team carries as a backup split back).

Fullback Kettani is the second biggest reason the ground game stays on top. With more carries (152) than any Naval SB in ’07, Kettani lost only one yard in his 150+ carries! Shun King seems unstoppable and another back who has to be covered, or else. Super quick change-of-pace SB Andre Byrd is surprisingly resilient for his small size. Deep and eager, the depth behind these starters will get their chances.

The receivers are good for about one catch per game. Barnes is a true target, but Sharp is a big window display not expected to catch many (but who will tie up his guy every time). The inexperience and lack of development amongst the entire passing game as well as amongst the wide receiver corps means that, even when they need to throw it, there will be mixed results, at best (like usual).

Most of the line is either first- or second-teamers from last year’s record setting offense. The lone inexperienced hat is Austin Mike at the crucial left tackle spot. McGinn again being healthy is a key, along with Gaskins, for the backups to feel like they have a foundation. Moore bumps over from right tackle to become the line’s commander. For anyone who doesn’t understand how Navy leads the FBS division in rushing with all sub-300lb linemen, it’s basic – a moving 270lb guy who knows how the play will develop will, most every time, effectively block superior 300lb DLmen. Once mobile, weight differentials are pretty much negated, thus the line working as a unit on laterally developing plays works. Navy runs it right at you this way, and by their 4th-ranked third-down conversion rate (51.1%), even when it’s a critical situation, you know the run is coming, and it still succeeds.


QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada


Returning Starters in bold
QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada-Sr (5-11, 195) Jarod Bryant-Sr (5-10, 189)
FB Eric Kettani-Sr (6-1, 233) Kevin Campbell-Jr (5-11, 193)
SB Shun White-Sr (5-9, 190) Jarod Bryant-Sr (5-10, 189)
SB Andre Byrd-So (5-7, 157) Greg Shinego-Sr (5-9, 185)
WR Tyree Barnes-Sr (6-2, 197) Mario Washington-So (5-9, 184)
WR Curtis Sharp-Sr (6-4, 247) T.J. Thierl-Sr (6-0, 192)
OT Austin Mike-Jr (6-3, 265) Matt Molloy-So (6-3, 280)
OG Anthony Gaskins-Sr (6-1, 284) Mike Von Bargen-Sr (6-5, 270)
C Ricky Moore-Sr (6-4, 295) Andy Lark-Jr (6-0, 289)
OG Curtis Bass-Jr (6-1, 266) Osei Asante-Jr (6-1, 264)
OT Andrew McGinn-Sr (6-1, 255) Sander Gossard-Sr (6-4, 272)
K Matt Harmon-Sr (5-10, 185) Kyle Delahooke-So (6-1, 185)



Breaking down the DL, the same girth problems exist that are also found on offense. This is why there is a 3-4 alignment for the front seven. Navy’s DLmen don’t have the same knowledge of play development like the Middie OLmen have, so the size differentials work against them. A group effort is this team’s stopping technique, but this has yet to prove an effective approach. Frazier is possibly the most essential cog for stopping foes since he has the size needed to plug holes.

Ex-OLB Nechak joins experienced starter Walsh, and both have enough to make foes pay attention. Overachiever Corey Johnson had joined Ram Vela to start on the outside, so a few newbies have the advantage of experienced mentors to bring them along. Many of the linebackers – Pospisil and Sovie – have been good enough to earn some starts, and Sovie displacing Haberer is another good sign that the corps is coming along with so many new contributors.

The funny thing about the corners is how the reserves had more combined tackles (98) than the starters (83). When the Middie’s defensive pass efficiency rating was the nation’s worst and all of the two-deep on the outside returns, ‘iffy’ is the best word to predict how well they will do in 2008. Buffin seems to be the best of the corners. Realistically, how can the coverage get better when the cover men practice against Navy’s run-heavy approach? A big boost for the DBs is the emergence of Wyatt Middleton. This kid is good enough to start at any BCS-level school, so his sophomore year being a healthy one is important if Navy wants to improve its defensive standing. The same goes for Deliz; his broken foot in the second game meant the secondary was constantly found out of position. Iwuji is a sprinter who can become another major piece of the stopping equation. This defense has size (as well as consistency) issues, based primarily on recruiting battles that are usually lost.


DE Michael Walsh


Returning Starters in bold
DE Michael Walsh-Sr (6-2, 257) Maurice Cumberland-So (6-4, 259)
NG Nate Frazier-Jr (6-3, 287) Jordan Stephens-Jr (6-4, 263)
DE Matt Nechak-Jr (6-4, 249) Kyle Bookhout-Jr (6-2, 247)
OLB Corey Johnson-Sr (6-2, 205) Ram Vela-Jr (5-9, 193)
ILB Clint Sovie-Jr (5-11, 210) Tony Haberer-Jr (6-1, 225)
ILB Ross Pospisil-Jr (6-0, 223) Tyler Simmons-So (6-3, 230)
OLB Craig Schaefer-Jr (6-2, 222) Travis Sudderth-So (6-2, 224)
CB Rashawn King-Sr (6-0, 180) Kevin Edwards-So (6-2, 173)
CB Ketric Buffin-Sr (5-7, 168) Blake Carter-Jr (5-11, 185)
ROV Jeff Deliz-Sr (5-11, 210) Emmett Merchant-So (5-9, 186)
FS Wyatt Middleton-So (6-0, 192) Jesse Iwuji-Jr (6-1, 179)
P Kyle Delahooke-So (6-1, 202) Jared Smearman-Sr (6-1, 195)




Kyle Delahooke has a big leg to boom the few punts that Navy is forced to use. He will back Harmon as the Middie field goal guy. Navy likes to use two kickers, so Delahooke should get his chances. Merchant and White are listed for KRs, with Bryant and Washington starring as the new punt returners…replacing Campbell will be important (he filled both runback roles very productively).