Navy Practice Update: Week 2

Navy opened the first two practice days this week with the team in full pads. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo made it clear early in the week that he was unhappy with his players effort on the practice field. Niumatalolo said, "I didn't like our energy level. I didn't like our temperament. I am expecting a little more when we actually turn it loose," he said.

The following day when the team held a two a day practice he stated, "We punched the clock today. I'm very disappointed. We're normally a team that practices hard, plays hard. But today there was no energy level. There was not much motivation. Guys were going through the motions."

It difficult for a plebe to move up the depth chart at Navy but Josh Tate might be an exception to that rule. Tate was one of the most talented players at the Naval Academy Prep School last season. Tate has seen extensive playing time with the second string already and has played well.

Josh is a 5-11, 180 pound well-built safety with 4.5 speed. Tate has good size, terrific speed, range and is extremely active against the run. He is a very physical hard-hitting safety that has the potential to develop into a quality starter if he continues to progress.

The biggest surprise of preseason practice has been the emergence of senior wide receiver Bruce Andrews (6-0,189) from obscurity to playmaker. Andrews wasn't on the three deep rotation when camp began. Andrews, who is from Hawaii, was a first team All-State high school player on the island. His first three years at the Naval Academy he never played a single varsity snap. After a spring practice where he failed to assert himself into the three deep rotation his hopes of any serious playing his senior year appeared over. Andrews changed that this week with a tremendous week of practice where he was able to get open consistently and catch everything thrown his way. During the week Andrews caught a long pass from backup quarterback Trey Miller.

In Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage Andrews caught four passes for 78 yards including teaming up with Miller again for a 52-yard touchdown pass. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo praised his play, "Bruce Andrews has been unbelievable. By far, and I hope I don't jinx him, but by far the most impressive player in camp on the entire team. He has come out of nowhere. Coming into camp he really wasn't in the mix, maybe fighting for the last spot at wide receiver. He has just made play after play after play. I'm very pleased with him."

The competition at B back was raised the first week of practice. The week began when senior captain and unquestioned starter Alexander Teich was one of 50 college football players named to the 2011 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award. The Paul Hornung Award is given annually to the most versatile player in college football by the Louisville Sports Commission and football legend Paul Hornung. Teich earned the honor after rushing for 863 yards and five touchdowns last season and leading the team in all-purpose yards.

After missing spring practice because of shoulder surgery Teich showed he was his old self as he opened Saturday's scrimmage ripping off a 52-yard run for a touchdown. The battle to back up Teich became very interesting this week. For the first time in years the Mids entered preseason practice without an established backup fullback to split duties with the starter.

This week exciting freshman Noah Copeland showed the ability that we referred to in our "Meet the New Mids" feature. We wrote that if he remains healthy he has a chance to be the next great Navy B-Back.

During practice this week, Copeland showed his speed when he raced 92 yards for a touchdown. In Saturday's scrimmage he carried the ball seven times for 41 yards. Copeland was converted to fullback last season at the Naval Academy prep school. Noah rushed for a record 1,184 yards last season at NAPS and scored 11 touchdowns in just eight games. Copeland was the team's captain and Team MVP.

Copeland is a terrific downhill, cutback runner with excellent speed. He finishes his runs allowing him to consistently pick up extra yards. Copeland also has great hands and rarely fumbles.

Niumatalolo commented on Copeland after the scrimmage.

"Copeland was our best back at the prep school last year, probably our best player at the prep school," said Niumatalolo. "We are really excited about him. He is more like Teich, he's not a big bruising back like Kyle Eckel, but very shifty. We just have to get him to be a complete back now. He needs to learn how to block and he went the wrong way a couple of times. From a skill standpoint we are very excited about him."

While I think Copeland is the second most talented fullback on the roster, third string senior Delvin Diggs made it clear he wasn't going anywhere without a fight. Diggs broke a 52-yard run which set up a Kriss Proctor touchdown run during Saturday's scrimmage. It was a nice run by Diggs, who didn't previously show that type of running ability in his limited appearances or during spring's practice. The staff also moved sophomore Michael Patrick from slotback to fullback. During Saturday's scrimmage Patrick carried the ball seven times for 36 yards at B Back. It's not a new position for Patrick. He played fullback for NAPS in 2009 and led the team in rushing. Michael was named the 2009 NAPS Most Valuable Player. Patrick is short, 5-8, but is a well-built 193 pounds and possesses good speed.

On defense senior inside linebacker Caleb King had a terrific scrimmage with an interception, a sack in addition to forcing a fumble. Fellow inside linebacker Matt Warrick led the defense with eight tackles. Outside linebacker Andrew Glaize had an outstanding scrimmage posting six tackles and two sacks.

Plebe punter Pablo Beltran showed his ability when he nailed two punts during Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said, "Pablo has done a nice job so far in camp. He has punted very well. Pablo was a highly-rated punter coming out of high school. He was a big-time recruit and we were ecstatic to land him. We knew he was good and so far he has been proving that."

Beltran's leg proved to be too strong on his second punt when he out kicked the punt coverage team. Punt returner Gary Myers returned his second punt 70 yards for a touchdown.

After the scrimmage Niumatalolo was happy with his offense while concerned for the defense. "From an offensive standpoint it was good to see the big plays, but as the head coach I'm always going to look at it the other way," said Niumatalolo. "We don't want to give up big plays. I thought the defense played solid, they just gave up some big plays."

A number of players were injured during Saturday's scrimmage. Slotback Aaron Santiago, wide receiver Matt Shibata, guard Zach Dryden, end Ryan Paulson and outside linebacker Cody Peterson all left the field with injuries. Left tackle David Sumrall sat out the scrimmage after suffering a concussion in practice. Santiago has had previous leg problems which have limited his playing time in the past.

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