#89 Navy Football 2013 Preview

Navy Midshipmen

Overall Rank: #89
# 3 Independent

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After a slow start to the 2011-2012 season, the Midshipmen finished with a solid 8-5 record.  Considering they went just 5-7 the year before, 8-5 is a significant turnaround.  Ken Niumatalolo, the Navy coach for the last five years, has kept things steady in Annapolis.  Despite poor records and generally overmatched players, Navy finds a way to compete every season.  As an independent they play tougher opponents, so there are generally no easy years.  Niumatalolo learned to employ the triple-option offense from his predecessor, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson, and it has paid dividends for them.  They look to continue their winning ways in 2013.

2012 Record: (8-5)
2012 Bowl: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl v. Arizona State (L 62-28)
Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (6th year, 40-25)
Offensive Coordinator: Ivin Jasper
Defensive Coordinator: Buddy Green

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Noah Copeland, FB, 738 yards
Passing: Keenan Reynolds, QB, 898 yards
Receiving: Shawn Lynch, WR, 281 yards
Tackles: Parrish Gaines, CB, 69
Sacks: Jordan Drake, LB, 2.0
Interceptions: Parrish Gaines, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: DB Quincy Adams, RB Trey Miller

Key Losses: LB Keegan Wetzel, RB Gee Gee Green, RB Bo Snelson, WR, Brandon Turner, DL Wes Henderson, LB Jordan Drake, LB Matt Warrick

As always, Navy’s rushing attack was amongst the best in the country.  Surely, it pains them to see their archrivals Army leading the nation in that category, but the Midshipmen still racked up 278 yards per game on the ground last season.  There is no indication that the offensive style will be any different going into 2013, so expect the same lofty numbers in the ground game.  Another top 10 rushing ranking is likely.  Their defense was actually not terrible last year either.  They had a lot of senior leadership that helped on that side of the ball.  Leading tackler Keegan Wetzel was everywhere alongside his partner in crime, Matt Warrick.  They did just about everything for the Midshipmen last year.  The secondary, led by Parrish Gaines this year, only gave up 215 yards per game last season.  Those numbers can keep you in a contest late.  Their special teams on kickoffs were strong as well.  They averaged over 23 yards per return.

In most triple-option offenses, the passing game ends up taking a serious hit in terms of production.  The 2012 season was no exception for Navy in that regard.  They were third worst nationally at throwing the ball.  Reynolds had less than 1,000 yards passing for the entire season.  Nine touchdowns throwing represent backup numbers.  Granted, their offense is not predicated on being able to achieve a lot in the air.  Still, even a slight improvement in passing would increase Navy’s chances of winning a few more games.  Despite productive tacklers on the defensive side of the ball, there was not much pressure applied in the backfield.  The Midshipmen ranked 100th in sacks last season and nearly last in the country in tackles for loss.  They obviously were not getting much push up front against bigger athletes on the other side.  It may continue to be a problem this year especially with all the talent they lost.  They had a senior exodus it seems.  Between Wetzel, Warrick, and big linemen like Wes Henderson, the Midshipmen lose a wealth of starting experience.  They will have to find viable replacements.  The same goes for starting tailback Gee Gee Green.  Someone has to step into his role as well.

The Bottom Line:
It is not out of the realm of possibility for Navy to improve and even win nine or 10 games in 2013.  Outside of Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, they do not have terribly tough matchups.  The schedule sets up nicely for them to have five or six wins heading into late October.  No matter who you play, the triple-option is not easy to line up against.  Though teams have had success with it, it is frustrating to scheme for.  The key will be whether or not their defense holds up this season.  They were strong on the back end last season.  Hopefully they can sustain the same type of play from the defensive backs.  Their front seven have their work cut out for them.  They will need to be better this season to secure a better record.

Projected Bowl:  Armed Forces Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 278.46 (6th in nation, 2nd in Independent)
Passing Offense: 104.77 (117, 3)
Total Offense: 383.23 (77, 4)
Scoring Offense: 25.00 (82, 3)
Rushing Defense: 193.62 (94, 3)
Pass Defense: 215.23 (40, 4)
Total Defense: 408.85 (71, 3)
Scoring Defense: 25.69 (54, 3)
Turnover Margin: .00 (58, 2)
Sacks: 1.38 (100, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.85 (57, 3)


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