Navy Midshipmen Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Navy season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Navy Midshipmen Preview
Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo, 15th year at Navy, 105-75
2021 Preview: Overall: 4-8, Conference: 3-5
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Navy Top 10 Players | Navy Schedule
Navy Midshipmen Preview 2022
… but they beat Army.
Navy is in a rut.
While Air Force and Army are rolling right along with winning seasons and bowl appearances, Navy is sputtering and coughing over the last two seasons going 7-15 since the great 11-2 2019 season.
Of course Ken Niumatalolo can coach, and of course this can all turn in a dime if the offensive system starts dominating again. Throw in the coming changes in the American Athletic Conference, and there’s a good chance Navy starts to win more and starts to look like it’s old self next year. But first, everything has to start working again and the team has to be a threat to come up with a winning season.
The offense can still control the clock, and the running game was ninth in America, and the defense even finished 34th in the nation and wasn’t bad. And yes, going 4-8 was awful, but four of the losses were by a touchdown or less, and …
Navy 17, Army 13.
Navy can play – there wasn’t a really bad loss among the eight last year – but being competitive isn’t enough. There’s enough in place to win a few more games and go bowling again, and beat Army, too.
Navy Midshipmen Preview 2022: Offense
The running game still came up with the yards. Yeah, it was able to get to 200 yards a game without a problem and it was able to hover around 300 yards on a regular basis, and it was able to control the clock, keep the turnovers to a minimum, and hit the really big downfield play when it did throw. But it wasn’t enough.
Navy only averaged 3.9 yards per carry and didn’t dominate on the ground as much as it needed to. Now it needs to improve with seven starters gone.
QB Tai Lavatai is a good-sized 6-2, 210-pounder who threw well – he hit 56% of his passes for 449 yards and five scores with the ability to hit the deep pass – and he ran for 371 yards and seven scores. The quarterback situation overall is fine, and a No. 1 receiver has to rise up.
It’s all relative – Mychal Cooper tied for the team lead with just 11 catches – but Jayden Umbarger and Mark Walker are veterans who’ll be fine. As always, as long as the wide receivers catch just one or two big passes a game – and block, they’re doing their job for a passing game that finished dead last in the country averaging 57 yards per game.
The tackles are set with Jamie Romo and Kip Franklin back, but the interior needs to be settled. It’s a smallish group outside of 307-pound Lirion Murtezi, and there has to be improvement along with the changes.
The top three rushers are done, and there isn’t a thumping fullback in place to replace leading ground gainer Isaac Ruoss or 230-pound James Harris.
It’ll be a quick backfield that will rotate all the smallish speedsters, and they’ll be fine as long as the O line does its job.
Navy Midshipmen Preview 2022: Defense
The defense is in better shape personnel-wise with six starters expected to be back. Last year’s bunch finished third in the AAC and was great against the run, but it has to force more takeaways and there needs to be some semblance of a pass rush.
Three of the top four tacklers are done, with the biggest hit at linebacker losing Diego Fagot. Tyler Fletcher is a young, productive hitter and John Marshall will work in the Striker role as the leading returning tackler – he made 53 stops last year – but the losing LB Johnny Hodges to TCU hurts.
The D that only came up with 16 sacks needs someone to be disruptive. Jacob Busic is a linebacker-sized end who made a few plays behind the line, and Clay Cromwell is a quick interior presence with 292-pound size to work around.
The secondary needs help from a pass rush. There were seven interceptions, but none over the last four games. Overall, the teams that could throw were able to do it on the Midshipmen. The corners are the big early concern, but Rayuan Lane and Evan Gibbons know what they’re doing at safety.