Lawler Predicts 2011 Navy Season

Navy football begins its fourth season under the leadership of head coach Ken Niumatalolo. Niumatalolo has compiled an impressive 27-14 record and has extended the Mids bowl streak to eight consecutive seasons. This is unquestionably Niumatalolo team despite some writers who still make comparisons to his former mentor.

Every player in the program has been coached only by Niumatalolo.  He does face the challenge of trying to reclaim the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy from a talented Air Force squad.  Offensively the team seems loaded with terrific depth at slotback and fullback. Up front Navy experiences a rarity where it returns four starters. New starting quarterback senior Kriss Proctor can run the option. If he can stay healthy and make a few throws in the passing game to keep the opposition honest Navy's offense should roll.

 The offense might have to be prolific since the defense is breaking in eight new starters. The defense does returns its best player in senior co-captain Jabaree Tuani. In 2007 the Mids faced similar senior attrition and had their worst defensive year in Navy history allowing a whooping total of 473 points. Fortunately this year's front seven has talent and there is solid competition from upperclassmen, unlike 2007, for most spots. The secondary, other than Kwesi Mitchell, is untested. Last year we predicted ten wins and a bowl appearance and missed by a victory.  Let's look at the 2011 Navy schedule.


Sept 3  Delaware

The Delaware Blue Hens are not your typical FCS walk over opponent. For the past few decades they have been one of the best football Division I-AA/ FCS teams. Last season they went 12-3 and lost in the FCS championship game. They have a 2-2 record against the Mids during the current triple option era. Delaware All-American running back Andrew Pierce is a terrific player. Look for Delaware to put ten men in the box like they've done in the past to attempt  to stuff Navy's running game and make Proctor beat them by passing the ball.  Navy Win


Sept 10   at Western Kentucky

 In 2009 Navy defeated the Hilltoppers 38-22. After spotting Western Kentucky a 14-10 lead, the Mids scored the next 28 points to cruise to an easy victory. The Mids wore their 1959 uniforms in that contest to celebrate the first game ever played at NMCS. I wish they adopted those colors as their new home uniforms since they looked great. Navy should win comfortably at home.   Navy Win

Sept 17  at South Carolina

Navy travels to South Carolina for the first time since 1988.  In 1984 Navy recorded one of their greatest upsets when they defeated the then No. 2 ranked Gamecocks 38-21. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 12 in the nation entering the 2012 season as Steve Spurrier is fielding his most talented team since he joined South Carolina. With stars like running back Marcus Lattimore (1,190 rush yards, 19 total TD), quarterback Stephen Garcia (3,050 yards, 20 TDs),  junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey (88 catches, 1,510 yards, 9 TD),  junior defensive end Devin Taylor (1st Team All-SEC ) and super freshman defensive end  Jadeveon Clowney this team is loaded. Navy is 1-4 all-time in South Carolina.    Navy Loss


Oct 1       Air Force

After a bye week, Navy plays the Falcons at home in the first leg of their attempt to regain the Commanders-In-Chief's Trophy.  After holding the CIC trophy a Navy record seven straight years, the Falcons took home the prize with a 14-6 win in Colorado Springs last season.  Air Force and Navy have recently been defensive brawls between two evenly matched teams. Despite the prognosticators acting like Air Force is such a superior team this year should be no different. Navy wins at home.  Navy Win

Oct 8     Southern Miss

The Golden Eagles might be better known as Brett Favre's alma mater but they have recorded an impressive 17 consecutive winning seasons. Fourteen starters return including senior star quarterback Austin Davis (3,100 pass yards, 450 rush yards, 30 total TD, 2010). Davis led one of the better offenses in the country last season and is the type of mobile, athletic quarterback that historically gives the Mids defense fits. On defense Southern Miss finished 13th in the nation in run defense. Unless Southern Miss is one of those Conference USA teams baffled by their first look at Navy's spread option this looks to be a tough matchup physically for the Midshipmen.  Navy Loss


Oct 15    at Rutgers

After Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano produced six straight winning season seasons, Rutgers dropped to 4-8 last season. The Scarlet Knights offensive line was awful as it couldn't run block or pass protect. Rutgers should be better but is still very young at most skill positions. Rutgers' defense doesn't seem to have the same caliber athletes or production they've had in the recent past. Navy has lost its last four in New Brunswick but those contests were against much better teams than his current Rutgers unit. The Mids win on the road  Navy Win


Oct 22    East Carolina

Last year Navy romped scoring 76 points against the Pirates. Navy compiled 521 rushing yards and 596 yards of total offense. The Mids are 2-0 against ECU and have rushed for 924 yards averaging seven yards a carry in the two games. The Pirates defense has had no answers for the Navy spread option.  Navy Win


Oct 29    at Notre Dame

Notre Dame will be out for blood after Navy embarrassed them in the Meadowlands last year 35-17 Alexander Teich rushed for a career high 210 yards in the win. Navy actually called off the dogs in the fourth quarter. It was the third win for the Mids in the last four years against the Irish. Notre Dame ended last season playing their best with four straight victories including wins over Utah, USC and Miami.  Navy Loss


Nov 5     Troy

Troy moved from Division II to Division 1-AA to the FBS in just 13 years. The Trojans have won at least eight games five straight years while winning outright or sharing the Sun Belt Conference title all five years. Troy is a good team but Navy wins at home. Navy Win

Nov 12    at SMU

Navy has had SMU's number winning four straight and seven of the last eight games. They haven't lost in Dallas since 1966. While the Mids have won recently, it has required two huge comeback wins the last two years. Navy's inexperienced secondary will be challenged by SMU's Run and Shoot passing attack.   Navy Loss                


Nov 19    at San Jose State

First meeting between these two schools. The Spartans struggled to a 1-12 record last season. San Jose State should be better this year but Navy will roll.  Navy Win


Dec 10     Army 

 Navy has beaten Army a series record nine consecutive games. Army finally broke the four year streak of failing to score a touchdown last year. Ricky Dobbs beat the Black Knights with his passing ability over the top last year. I think this will be the closest game in years since the Black Knight have done a solid job limiting Navy's spread option running game under Ellerson. Army can beat Navy and the gap has closed but Navy is still the better team.    Navy Win

I predict an 8-4 season with another bowl appearance. Navy's offense will keep their streak of winning at least eight games alive and appear in their ninth consecutive bowl as the CIC trophy returns to Annapolis. Top Stories