Navy Football 2013 In Review: A 40% Solution

The notion of a "40-percent solution" doesn't sound inspiring or bold, but it's one way in which Navy can improve its on-field fortunes in 2014. The Midshipmen didn't always control field position last year, but on the occasions when they did gain the benefit of a short field, they didn't make the most of their opportunities. That's something to work on when the season begins.


SAN JOSE STATE AND THE ART OF FOOTBALL MAINTENANCE

When plus-territory drive starts are kept, one has the option of including or excluding overtime stats and situations. Technically, an overtime possession does begin at the opponent's 25, but on the other hand, it's not something which naturally occurs within the flow of a game. It is the result only of a tiebreaking procedure, not a procured takeaway or a leveraging of field position off a punt return. For this reason, let's assume that the San Jose State overtime thriller and the Toledo game do not fall under the plus-territory drive discussion which began last week. Let's continue this discussion with the scoring component attached to the issue.

As mentioned last week, Navy gained 14 plus-territory drive starts, not counting the overtime sequences against San Jose State. On 11 plus-territory possessions, Navy started between the 50 and the opponent's 36. On the other three possessions, the Midshipmen started from the 35 to the 21. What new revelation is to be found this week? The point totals Navy accrued from those 14 possessions – they weren't very good.

The Midshipmen scored a total of 41 points on their 14 short-field drive starts, an average of just under three points per possession. What's even more worrisome for Ken Niumatalolo is that his offense scored just 27 points on the 11 drives starting from the 50 to the 36. The 35-to-21-yard line drives were solid though not spectacular: 14 points in three possessions (two touchdowns and one scoreless possession). The 50-to-36 track record, though, leaves a lot of room for improvement.

The following point continues to merit inclusion in just about every review of Navy's 2013 season: This team excelled in many respects, but it left at least something on the table in a large number of statistical categories. The theme worth repeating for Navy's upcoming season is that the Midshipmen, as good as they were last year, really can get better this upcoming autumn. This offers the hope of an even bigger season, one with a chance for double-digit wins.

Navy's offense did show last year that it could thrive with a short field, after all. The Midshipmen scored five touchdowns in their five overtime possessions, three against San Jose State and two against Toledo. Overtime possessions, of course, occur when an opposing defense is exhausted. Can Navy establish short-field mastery against a defense that is still relatively fresh? Can Navy cover the remaining 40 percent of the field when starting at that point on the gridiron? The answers to those questions will probably shift at least one game for the Mids in 2014, maybe even two.

This is certainly something to keep an eye on in Annapolis when the new season begins.

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