Owls hoping for smoother sailing than last time they played Middies

For the fifth straight season, Navy opens the season with a different starting quarterback.

This time, it's junior Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who did start the last six games (one at slotback) after Brian Hampton injured a knee. The top two rushers, seniors Adam Ballard and Reggie Campbell, also return to an option offense that averaged a Division I-A-best 327 yards per game on the ground.

That's what Temple must deal with tonight at the Linc, as another season kicks off. Last November, the Owls closed with a 42-6 loss at Navy. Kaheaku-Enhada ran for a career-high 140 yards that afternoon.

"They obviously were in a different class than we were," second-year Temple coach Al Golden said. "We'll see how much we've grown in 286 days . . .

"We're light-years ahead [of where they were at this time a year ago]. We're not dealing with [as many] issues anymore. That's part of it. I think we've made considerable progress. But this is the first test. You can't separate the two. And we're playing a team that knows how to win."

The Middies have been to a bowl each of the last 4 years.

Temple remains a program that's still trying to somehow find the path back to respectability.

If nothing else, the Owls have had plenty of time to prepare. How much of a difference that makes, well, Navy obviously presents unique problems.

"They've established a level of winning there that we aspire to get to," Golden said. "Everything you stop, they have an answer for. They do what they do. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. They're masters of it. They know it. We know it. Everybody in the building knows it. They live and die by that belief. And they're not afraid to take out anybody's heart.

"They've got a lot of leaders. I've tried to explain to our guys, when they're bitching and moaning, that a lot of those guys were on battleships this summer, lifting weights on the front of the bow. Or flying fighter jets.

"So we'd better grow the heck up by Friday night. We're getting older, and stronger. We'll see who answers the call."

Not only this time, but the 11 other battles on the horizon. That's why they call it a journey. *