5 Things Navy Needs to Do Now

Without the luxury of watching game film and lacking the acumen by a million miles of any member of the Navy football coaching staff, I'm still going to tell you what five things the Mids need to do to get this season back on track. Do all these five things and I guarantee you that Navy will win at least seven games.

Stop the Run

Navy has rarely been able to stop multi-dimensional teams and this year has been no exception. But if the Mids can't at least contain their opponent's ground game, they have no shot of beating an opponent of equal or better quality. Therefore, I suggest that they start concentrating a bit more on just stopping the other team's running game. If that means a few passes get thrown over their heads, so be it. The linebackers are just not getting the job done and it's quite possible the best tacklers on the team reside in the secondary. It's time to start cheating the rover up a bit. There was one second down in the Southern Mississippi game when Kwesi Mitchell was 22 yards off the line of scrimmage. That sounds a bit too deep to me.

Navy's next opponent, Rutgers, is averaging 79.80 rushing yards per game which is bad enough to be 115th out of 120 FBS teams. There is no doubt that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano will look to get the ground game on track against Navy's anemic rushing defense (112th in the country).

As bad as Rutgers is rushing the ball, following them on Navy's schedule is East Carolina…who is actually worse.

If either the Scarlet Knights or the Pirates find their running game against the Mids, Navy doesn't stand much of a chance to slow them down and will have to hope to win some type of high-scoring affair. And that's a lot of pressure to put on an offense that has been inconsistent at best this season.

Get Gee Gee Greene the Ball

Through five games last season, Navy slot back Gee Gee Greene touched the ball 41 times. After five games this season, he has touched it 24 times. Good things usually happen when the junior has the ball in his hands and Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper should create more opportunities for that to happen. I think one of the most successful plays in the red zone for Navy is a toss sweep to their fastest (and most capable slot back) – and for my money that's Greene. I totally understand that the Mids have a rotation at slot back and there are very few set plays where one particular slot back is designed to get the ball prior to the snap. However, there is definitely room to get the speedy junior more involved – just ask Shun White.

Be Smarter – I'm Talking to the Seniors

In January 2010, it was revealed by the media that Navy slot back Marcus Curry failed a drug test. However, that particular infraction did not lead to any discipline by the team. He was even allowed to participate in spring practice. Fast forward to 2011 – Navy offensive captain and leading rusher at the time, Alexander Teich, who to the best of my knowledge had never gotten into trouble before with the team, was not allowed to play against Southern Miss for "violating team rules." Although the nature of Teich's actions were not disclosed by head coach Ken Niumatalolo, taking into consideration the lack of discipline assessed for failing a drug test (in the offseason no less), chances are the senior fullback screwed up pretty good. His poor decision-making came on the heels of another stupid mistake by a soon-to-be Naval officer, quarterback Kriss Proctor. Proctor's taunting of an Air Force player in overtime proved to be extremely costly for the usually disciplined Midshipmen. Niumatalolo's team meeting last week, which couldn't inspire the Mids to a victory over Southern Miss, hopefully put an end to this inexcusable behavior. If Navy has any thoughts of going bowling, they will need all hands on deck. Furthermore, and I'm just throwing this out there, Niumatalolo should bench the next Navy player who gets a 15-yard penalty for talking trash. I was actually surprised to see slot back John Howell return to the Air Force game after his costly personal foul penalty. I hope a senior gave him an earful for that.

Go Outside the Box Early

Navy's two most creative plays this season came way too late in the game to make much of a difference. The first was the fake punt against Air Force which came after the Falcons were ahead 21-3. As ballsy as the call was (Navy was facing fourth and ten from their own 17 yard line), it was a call made out of desperation. The second creative play call was a reverse to Matt Aiken against Southern Miss. This trickeration came after the Mids were down by four touchdowns and the game was all but decided. One could argue that it makes more sense to wait until your back is up against a wall before you go to your bag of tricks because if you fail, the result could be devastating. On the other hand, showing something different early may keep the defense off balance.

Execute Better

Well, since I said that these five things would guarantee that the Mids would win at least seven games, I had to put this no-brainer in there. I'm pretty sure after looking at the Southern Miss game film, defensive coordinator Buddy Green saw enough missed assignments (and tackles) to last for the rest of the season. I'm also sure Navy's offensive line - especially in the first half – has some explaining to do for why they repeatedly got blown up by Southern Mississippi's defensive line. I remember one play in particular where an offensive lineman had three defenders run past him as they made their way to an overmatched slot back on the perimeter. The lineman never blocked anyone and the slot back never had a chance.

I think it is fair to say that whereas the offense needs to execute better, Navy's special teams needs to just execute, period. As a former Navy football coach once remarked this season, "Kicking the ball shouldn't be such an adventure." One or two missed extra points in a season is a lot. Four missed extra points in five games is inexcusable. Navy kicker Jon Teague is also just 1-3 on field goals between 20-29 yards. At some point you would think that Niumatalolo would declare that Teague's job is an open competition.

If Navy does these five things, they can surprise a potentially overconfident 4-1 Rutgers team this Saturday and then soundly beat an East Carolina team who might have their hands full with lowly Memphis before coming to Annapolis in two weeks.

I know – it sounds a lot easier than it is. But we spoiled Navy fans can't really fathom the possibility of our team being 2-5 headed to South Bend. We have come to expect much more – and certainly much more than what happened this past Saturday. Here's hoping we get it.

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