Size Matters for Navy

In a sport which bigger, stronger, and faster, was made for the Midshipmen have always been behind to curve. Certainly the dynamics of playing football while still being in shape for everything a service academy requires plays a major role in Navy historically being smaller on the field than their opponent.

In a sport which bigger, stronger, and faster, was made for the Midshipmen have always been behind to curve. Certainly the dynamics of playing football while still being in shape for everything a service academy requires plays a major role in Navy historically being smaller on the field than their opponent. You would also have to believe that the lack of an NFL shot keeps some of the physical freaks of nature you see playing football in the SEC away.

Recently, however, there has been a change in that trend. Gone are the days where no one on the Navy media guide is listed at over 300 pounds. Obviously the intricacies of the blocking scheme associated with the triple option mandate some of the Navy linemen remain undersize. This is especially true with some of the interior players who are required to pull downfield and make blocks in space. There is a new breed of player in the Academy who can do those things and still find a way to carry the weight to stand up at the point of attack on direct runs. Simply put, the Mids are bigger and stronger than ever before.

At 6-foot-2 and 335 pounds Alex Doolittle is one of the biggest players in the history of Navy football. As you can probably guess the scouting report on Doolittle is that he is immensely strong and handles his business at the point of attack. The truth is though that Doolittle is only one of five Navy guards who weigh in at 287 pounds or more, including projected starters Jake Zuzek and E.K. Binns. With the schedule that Navy will run in 2013 having big guards will give an interior advantage against almost all their opponents.

The biggest increase in size however has come on the defensive side of the ball and specifically at the nose guard position. With the defense that the Mids run the job of the nose guard is to essentially be as big and athletic as possible, eating up blockers and allowing the linebackers to make plays on the ball carrier. "We a lot bigger and stronger in there than we have been in the past," said Dale Pehrson, who coaches Navy's defensive line. "Having that size gives us a lot of flexibility. We've got some parts we can move around."

One of the problems you often see with nose guards is their ability to maintain a playing weight which maximizes their speed and power. In simple terms they often get too big. This is the area that Pehrson sees the most improvement on from this time last year. The main man to watch in terms of increased playing time this fall is 303 pounder Bernie Sarra. Sarra lost 24 pounds during the offseason and he is now a much faster and more dynamic piece in the middle of the Mids defensive line. Sarra recently won the prestigous Admiral Mack Award that goes to the most improved player during spring camp.

If Navy can find production from their big players then it can only help the cause with what looks like a very winnable schedule this fall.


Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, Elsie Mack, the widow of Admiral Mack and rising sophomore nose guard Bernie Sarra.

GoMids.com Top Stories