#43 Navy Football 2020 Preview

Navy Midshipmen
Overall Rank: #43
#4 American
 Navy Logo
Navy is coming off a superb 2019 campaign. The Midshipmen lost an early conference game at Memphis, but cruised through the rest of American Athletic Conference play and finished with a 7-1 conference mark. They also beat Air Force and Army in non-conference play, but lost handily at Notre Dame. And Navy finished on a very high note, slipping past Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl. Now Navy needs to keep up that promising play despite losing Malcom Perry.
2019 Record: 11-2, 7-1
2019 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. Kansas State (W 20-17)
Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (98-60 at Navy, 98-60 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ivin Jasper
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Newberry
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jamale Carothers, FB, 734 yards
Passing: CJ Williams, SB, 90 yards
Receiving: Mychal Cooper, WR, 380 yards
Tackles: Diego Fagot, LB, 100
Sacks: Diego Fagot, LB, 5.5
Interceptions: Evan Fochtman, S, 2; Chelen Garnes, LB, 2; Kevin Brennan, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: FB Nelson Smith, OL Billy Honaker
Key Losses: QB Malcolm Perry, SB Tazh Maloy, OL David Forney, LB Jacob Springer, LB Paul Carothers, CB Michael McMorris, LB Nizaire Cromartie
The quarterback is always so important in Navy’s triple option offense. Perry has done a great job in that role and will now take his talents to the NFL. Perry easily led the team with 2,017 rushing yards and, of course, added a few yards through the air as well. Coach Ken Niumatalolo has been down this road before when it comes to replacing a great triple option quarterback, but this team will be different without Perry’s explosiveness. Navy will want to rely more on the rest of their offense this season and that should not be a problem. Jamale Carothers, Nelson Smith and CJ Williams are proven rushers and the offensive line is quite experienced as well. As long as the new quarterback, likely sophomore Perry Olsen, can lead the offense, Navy should have enough of a ground game to not fall back too far in the AAC pecking order.
Navy took huge strides defensively last season and ranked tenth in the nation in rushing defense and 16th in total defense. That is not a huge surprise considering they will always control the clock, but defensive coordinator Brian Newberry clearly helped the unit during his first season in that position. With a year in that system, the hope is the defense can continue to improve despite some personnel losses. Navy will be strong in the middle of the defense with linebackers Diego Fagot and Kevin Brennan returning. Those two accounted for 181 tackles last season. The front line can rebuild around tackle Jackson Perkins, but Navy will need to find some new linebackers and ends who can join Fagot as a pass rushing threat. The secondary needs to replace top corner Michael McMorris, but Cameron Kinley and free safety Evan Fochtman are experienced options to build around in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
Without Perry, Navy is not going to go 11-2 again. The schedule is quite favorable though. The Midshipmen do not play Cincinnati or UCF and Memphis and Houston have to come to Annapolis. If Navy can find consistency and a little bit of explosiveness during the first two weeks of the season against Notre Dame and Lafayette, they could stick around the AAC title chase for most of the season.
Projected Bowl: Gasparilla Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 360.5 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 95.2 (128, 12)
Total Offense: 455.8 (19, 4)
Scoring Offense: 37.2 (12, 4)
Rushing Defense: 105.8 (10, 1)
Pass Defense: 208.3 (38, 4)
Total Defense: 314.2 (16, 1)
Scoring Defense: 22.3 (34, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.46 (27, 1)
Sacks: 2.31 (56, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (14, 1)