Thursday, August 12, 2010
Navy versus ACC
By ESPN.com staff
It's possible Navy could go 3-0 against the ACC this year with wins over Maryland, Wake Forest and Duke.
The Terps open with Navy on Labor Day in a game that will determine which direction their season is headed. It should be a close game with the Midshipmen favored. Wake Forest has the pleasure of facing the Mids one week after defending Georgia Tech's spread option offense, which should theoretically help in the Deacs' preparation. And Duke will travel to Annapolis on Oct. 30. Don't forget the Blue Devils defeated Navy in 2008, a 41-31 win under David Cutcliffe.
Navy is a team the ACC should fear, but for scheduling purposes, it's also a program the conference should embrace.
Navy has had seven straight winning records and been to seven straight bowl games. Senior quarterback Ricky Dobbs broke Tim Tebow's record for touchdowns scored by a quarterback with 27. It should once again be a bowl team -- something Maryland, Wake Forest and Duke all missed last year.
But by continuing to schedule Navy, these programs get two things: 1) Extra preparation for Georgia Tech if the Yellow Jackets are on their schedule and 2) A formidable bowl opponent that's the perfect balance between say, Alabama and Presbyterian.
One of the main reasons defenses struggle against Georgia Tech's offense is because they don't see it often enough. There's no way to simulate the speed at which it's executed during practices. It's an ideal situation to play Navy the week before facing Georgia Tech. Duke will travel to Atlanta three weeks after playing Navy. Retention will be key.
Of course, it won't look good for the conference if it goes winless against Navy. Maryland, after its 2-10 season, isn't even the best team in the state anymore. But that hasn't deterred coach Ralph Friedgen from repeatedly stating he'd like to play the Mids on a regular basis and get that rivalry going. It shouldn't deter the rest of the conference, either -- especially those teams in the Coastal Division.