2013 NAVY FOOTBALL PREVIEW
July 3, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (40-26, sixth season; 40-26 overall)
2012 record: 8-5 (Independent)
Offensive starters returning: 6
Offensive starters lost: 5
Defensive starters returning: 7
Defensive starters lost: 4
Key losses: RB Gee Gee Greene, RB Bo Snelson, WR Brandon Turner, DE Wes Henderson, LB Matt Warrick, LB Tra’ves Bush, LB Keegan Wetzel, LB Brye French
Top returnees: QB Keenan Reynolds, FB Noah Copeland, WR Shawn Lynch, DE Evan Palelei, LB Jordan Drake, LB Cody Peterson, CB Parrish Gaines, FS Chris Ferguson
After coming off a disappointing 5-7 season in 2011 – it’s worst season since 2002 – Navy was looking to right the ship in 2012. However, the Midshipmen struggled early on losing three of their first four games including the season opener against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland. A double-overtime victory over Air Force on Oct. 6 started Navy on a five-game winning streak as the team finished the season by winning seven of its last eight games including its 11th-straight win over rival Army. The victory assured the program it’s 13th Commander-in-Chief trophy, given to the top service academy each year.
As per usual for Navy, the Midshipmen were one of the top rushing teams in 2012 thanks to the triple-option. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds stepped into the starting role for part of last season and excelled providing the team with not only a formidable rusher (649 yards/10 TDs), but also a great passer (898 yards/9 TDs). Look for offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper to utilize Reynolds’ arm more this season. … Junior Geoffrey Whiteside will step in to replace departing Gee Gee Greene (877/3) at slot back and along with fullback Noah Copeland (738/5) and Darius Staten (184/1) make another formidable backfield. … Shawn Lynch will be relied on to pick up the slack on the receiving end after the departure of Brandon Turner, who led the team in receiving (321/4). … the offensive line returns three starters who combined for 35 starts last season led by guard Jake Zuzek.
Despite returning seven starters from last season, the defense lost its top four tacklers including linebackers Matt Warrick (93 tackles/4.5 tackles for loss) and Keegan Wetzel (79/7 sacks). Navy finished the season ranked 71st in the nation in total defense while giving up close to 200 yards on the ground. The defensive front will rely heavily on Evan Palelei (29 tackles), who has the most starting experience of any of the players. … linebackers Jordan Drake (49 tackles) and Cody Peterson (67 tackles) will provide strength in the middle of the defense.
Navy has had a winning season in four of the five years under Niumatalolo and fans shouldn’t expect anything less in 2013. This team is deep at almost every position and Keenan Reynolds can only get better in his second full-season at quarterback.