Ken Niumatalolo turned Navy into one of the most consistent programs in the country in his decade-plus with the Midshipmen… until last year’s 3-10 cliff-dive. I had Navy projected to go 7-6 last year, which was much lower than the consensus yet still ended up overshooting their win total. Now, it’s time to rebuild
Navy has struggled to find a QB the past two years, and their numbers have dropped too, from 6.8 yards per play at their peak in 2016, to 6.0 in 2017, to 5.3 in 2018.
Three guys split time at QB last year, the only one that returns is Malcolm Perry, who connected on an abysmal 36 percent of throws but averaged over six yards per carry rushing. Obviously, Navy will never be a pass-first team, but they return no players with more than ten catches last year, CJ Williams is the top returner at 187 yards (20.8 YPC), and the #2 returner is Perry who will obviously be throwing the ball the rare times Navy passes.
#2 fullback Nelson Smith (5.3 per touch) is back along with four linemen that started at least one game last year. CJ Williams or Tazh Maloy will need to get involved in the A-Back role as that was a group where the Midshipmen were significantly lacking last year.
There are really only two proven rushers on this team between Perry and Smith, but I trust in Navy to find some help there, they just need to get a little more reliable in the passing game, as Navy does throw a little more often than you’d think.
The defense stumbled to 6.5 yards per play last year, and Navy will have to replace practically everyone with real experience from the group, so 2019 may be a tough year too. Kennesaw State DC Brian Newberry is the new coordinator, an eccentric, creative play-caller who produced a fun to watch defense at KSU.
Both ends, pretty much every ILB, and a pair of defensive backs are gone, but Navy played a wide rotation, as usual, so most guys have at least *some* experience.
Navy will always have to deal with roster turnover more than pretty much every other school in the FBS, but they get a tough draw on defense this year. Nobody with more than two PBUs returns, nobody with more than three TFL, and just one guy, end Nizaire Cromartie, with more than one sack. This defense will struggle, although I like the coordinator change.
The offense has a shot at rebounding from last year’s drop off with two of the top three rushers returning, but I’m really worried about the defense, and the schedule is difficult with the service academies and Notre Dame in the non-conference. There are some winnable games at home, but getting back to a bowl for the tenth time in Niumatalolo’s 12 years may be tough.
|Date||Opponent||opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|16-Nov||at Notre Dame||10||-25.8|
|14-Dec||vs. Army (philadelphia, pa)||78||-8.6|
Average Projected Record: 4.3 wins, 7.7 losses (2.6 wins, 5.4 losses)