Navy has become frustratingly good at winning the Commander-in –Chief’s Trophy. This Mids have won the triangular and visited the White House 10 of the last 13 years. That, combined with the Navy going 17-2 against the Black Knights since 1997, is something that Army fans have to live with. To put it another way, almost all of the plebes entering the academy this fall will never have seen Army beating Navy.
This year though could be the year and it is all down to the quarterbacks.
Navy returns exactly one starter on offense. More than that though, the Midshipmen lost Army killer Keenan Reynolds to graduation. It is not stretching the realms of probability too much to suggest that if the Mids had not had Reynolds, and instead had players some mere mortal at the position, Army would have gone at last 50/50 with Navy over the last four years.
Instead three of the last four Navy wins were courtesy of second-half comebacks lead by Reynolds, including the heartbreaker at the end of the 2012 season.
Now though Navy will be playing without their four-year starter. They will be playing without their multiple time NCAA record breaker. They will be playing without their third-team All-American and the guy who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last fall.
Now it will be Tago Smith vs. either Chris Carter or Ahmad Bradshaw.
Smith is a known quantity in limited doses. He has played alright when Navy have needed him, but he has never been through a full season or had teams game planning to stop him. Army can stop Tago Smith.
The question then becomes can Navy stop whichever Army quarterback is starting at that point in the season?
In an ideal world the quarterbacking for Army this year will be decided by skill alone. Both Bradshaw and Carter will be entering fall camp thinking they can win the job and win it for good. Both were just ok last year, but a 2-10 season and a mishmash of stats does not define the level of potential that is seen in either of these players.
When Army plays Navy in the fall the Black Knights will, barring something unforeseen, have the better quarterback on the field. That is an ideal start when working out how to overcome almost two decades of futility against a bitter, old rival.