Navy Football Preview

The two biggest questions for Navy going into the season are the quarterback and fullback positions. Those players are key to running the triple option. Last season they got away from that offense completely last year due to a lack of reps in practice. Coach Niumatalolo made the decision to cancel spring ball and not hit during fall camp due to the pandemic. He called it “social distance football” during today’s event. In October there was a restriction of movement during which the players got an hour out of their rooms a day so they couldn’t do any football activities for almost a month.

When asked about last season’s struggles both Coach Niumatalolo and the players said having a normal offseason will definitely help avoid a repeat this year. At quarterback a pair of sophomores enter camp in a battle for the starting spot. Xavier Arline played at times last year but hadn’ttaken a snap under center in high school which is the base of the Navy offense. He didn’t play lacrosse in the spring so he could use spring practice to learn the triple option.

Tai Lavatai is the other person in the QB battle. He didn’t see varsity action last year but had a great spring and dropped 10 pounds. At fullback seniors Isaac Ruoss and James Harris II are listed at the top of the depth chart. Both player saw time of special teams but that doesn’t compare to what they will see this season. Chance Warren returns at slotback while Mychal Cooper and Mark Walker will start at receiver.

The defense returns 9 starters including senior linebacker Diego Fagot who has a chance to play on Sundays next year. He mentioned the first five games felt like offseason workouts last year. In the last three games the defense ranked number one in total defense and scoring defense. Another key piece of the defense is safety Kevin Brennan. He played well last season but had some issues with targeting penalties leading to suspensions.

Coach Niumatalolo has said multiple times this is the toughest schedule he’s faced at Navy. Instead of the normal Patriot League opener the Mids face Marshall who played in a bowl game last season. Former Navy AD and Marshall coach Jack Lengyel will be honored during the game.

Week two brings the start of the CIC series when Air Force comes to Annapolis. The game was moved so it could be played on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. After a week off AAC play starts with Houston on the road. October features UCF, SMU, Memphis, and Tulsa. A trip to South Bend starts November which also includes ECU and Temple.

The AAC title game is slated for December 4th with Army ending the regular season on December 11th. This year’s game will be played at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. The opener on September 4th will help figure out where this Navy team is headed for the 2021 season. That game starts at 3:30 in Annapolis.

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