2019 Navy Football Season Preview
Last year Navy struggled on both sides of the ball, earning the smallest win-total (and second losing season) under head man Ken Niumatalolo in his previous 11 years on the job. Will 2019 present a chance to regain their form?
2018 Record: 3-10 overall, 2-6 in American Athletic
Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo, 12th year, 87-58
The offense was able to run the football a season ago–but it did not equate to their usual standard of dominating that side of the ball. As a whole, the running game went from averaging 5.6 yards per carry with 4,568 yards and 42 scores in 2017 – and with 61 rushing touchdowns in 2016 – to averaging under five yards per carry with 3,594 yards and 37 scores last year.
The offensive line lost four starters, but retained Ford Higgins to anchor the unit at center. The ‘new’ starters have played before and understand the system, so it will not be much of a drop-off.
Malcolm Perry will be the Midshipmen’s starting quarterback again after moving between QB and RB a season ago. He won’t be asked to pass a lot–the senior has only attempted 27 passes in his career, but his running ability is what makes him dangerous. Outside of Perry, Navy will be replacing four of their top five running backs from last year.
Wide receiver is never a position of strength for the Midshipmen but they have one player, Mychal Cooper, who stands at 6’5 and needs to be used more in the offense. He only caught five passes a season ago for almost 20 yards per grab.
It will be interesting to see how the Navy defense changes in 2019. New coordinator Brian Newberry will be installing his 4-2-5 alignment and with many new faces on that side of the ball, he can mold his guys to how he sees fit.
Jackson Pittman is the name to watch on the defensive front–it’s not often Navy recruits 300-pound lineman, but he is one (and there are others in the rotation).
Diego Fagot, Nizaire Cromartie and Jacob Springer are a three-headed monster at linebacker. They balance each other well–Fagot is a powerful run stuffer, Cromartie can do-it-all and Springer is the pass rusher.
The secondary needs to help the defense get off the field on third down, but they have decent size and in the new alignment, the potential is there is be solid–or at least improved from last year.
Last year was not your typical Navy football season–the team was sub-par on both sides of the ball and was clobbered in AAC play. There might be a whole lot of missing parts from last year’s team, but that’s not as big a deal at service academy, with the development in place to truly create a Next Man Up system that fills in the parts.
As long as Malcolm Perry plays efficiently at quarterback, this team has a chance on offense. With the new system on the other side of the ball, it can’t be worse than last year.