Note: This is Part 2 of “Enemy Lines,” an annual series in which I trade e-mails with Christian Swezey, one of my good friends and a fellow sportswriter who has covered Navy for years. The first e-mail in our exchange is a few posts below.
The Ohio State game was pretty deceiving. After watching the game and reading the stories, I had to remind myself that Navy was 0-1 and not 1-0. Navy looked like it, too, needed a reminder: In its next game it fell behind La Tech 14-0.
Navy’s harder early season schedule is good and bad. Junior QB Ricky Dobbs already has 92 carries; that’s a lot.
And the starting OLBs – seniors Clint Sovie and Ram Vela – were injured against Pitt. It looked like Navy was hoping to hold them out against Western Kentucky as neither one started.
Yet the Hilltoppers were moving the ball well. So Sovie was pressed into action for most of the second half. (Vela had been in a couple plays in the first half but didn’t look ready.)
About confidence: Look at Iowa-Penn State last week. The Hawkeyes entered having won six of seven in the series (the same record Navy has against Air Force). Penn State clearly was not overlooking Iowa this year and scored a touchdown on its opening play.
Yet Iowa hung in there. And in the fourth quarter, Iowa made its run and Penn State fell apart (two huge turnovers from its two best offensive players). One team clearly was confident and one was not.
I remember, too, Oklahoma’s long winning streak against Nebraska in the 1970s. Oklahoma had so many come-from-behind wins that Barry Switzer called it “Sooner Magic.” Nebraska entered confident and with good teams but, as one writer later said, “Oklahoma had a strange effect [on the Huskers]; they never got Nebraska’s best game.”
I’m wondering if there are any thoughts out there on how Army has looked so far. In recent memory, the Navy-AF winner has locked up the CIC trophy. Does anyone at AF think Army will become more of a player in future CIC races?
Also, what is the mood like among the AF players and the Cadet Wing in general? I heard that around 1,000 of the Cadet Wing will be traveling to the Navy game. Is that true and, if so, is that more than in past years?