Defensive Line: C+
The Navy's defense is ranked 88th against the run. The defensive line has done a solid job against the run despite the miserable Rutgers' game. The Midshipmen have struggled to create pressure and have produced just three sacks all year.
Paul Quessenberrry (21 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 1/2 sacks, 3 QBH) leads the Navy defensive linemen in tackles for a loss. Paul plays with great intensity. He had his best performance in the opener against Ohio State when he recorded a sack, tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry that lead to an interception. He doesn't get many sacks but he is disruptive and can get up-field quickly.
Junior nose guard Bernie Sarra has started every game. The 303-pound Sarra is very strong and has benched pressed well over 400 pounds. He offers a wide body frame but has the ability to slide off a block and fill a gap. Bernie doesn't provide much as a pass rusher but he can definitely hold up against the run and free up the inside linebackers. He's probably Navy's most irreplaceable starter at this point.
Will Anthony is having a breakout junior season to led the Mid defensive line with 33 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for a loss, 1/2 sack and three quarterback hurries. He's impressed me since I first saw him at NAPS in 2011. Anthony isn't very big but is strong as an ox. He uses his hands well to disengage from blockers. He had huge games against Texas State and Air Force. William has good speed and a non-stop motor.
Backup junior defensive end Aaron Davis has made five tackles defensive tackles in a backup role. Sophomore nose guard Patrick Forrestal has nice size at 6-4, 305 pounds but he's just been bypassed
by plebe Michael Raiford on the depth chart. Raiford is a 6-6, 280 pound nose guard who really impressed me at NAPS. He is a physical combination of size and speed rarely seen in a Navy defensive lineman.
Senior striker linebacker Chris Johnson is having another excellent season. Johnson has made 45 tackles, three tackles for a loss, force and fumble and recovered a fumble. He had a tremendous game against Ohio State in the opener with 11 tackles. He made a huge play when he fought off a block and dropped Ezekiel Elliott for a 7-yard loss on Third-and-2 from the 4-yard line and forced OSU to settle for a field goal. Johnson recovered Brendan McGowan's last second lateral at the 10-yard line to end the Temple game. Johnson always seems to be in the right place at the right time. William Tuider (20 tackles) started four games at Raider linebacker but lost the job to Obi Uzoma (29 tackles) who holds up better against the run. He's been moved back to striker linebacker.
Inside linebacker Jordan Drake was moved from Raider linebacker this spring. Drake has made a total of 49 tackles. Drake had his best game against Air Force with a season high 13 tackles. Against Rutgers he had nine tackles and forced a fumble on the opening drive to set up the Mids first score. He's had a few quiet games and at time can get caught up in the trash. New inside linebacker Daniel Gonzales (53 tackles, INT) is developing into the impact defender that GoMids.com predicted when he joined the program on I-day last year after being named NAPS defensive MVP. He replaced tough luck senior James Britton who had finally battled to see some playing time only to suffer a season ending injury against Rutgers.
Defensive Backs: B
Navy is ranked 46th in pass defense. The Mids are allowing a high completion percentage (67.3%) and have given up twelve touchdowns this season. The Mids secondary usually does a good job keeping the play in from of them but suffered costly coverage breakdowns in the losses against Ohio State and Air Force.
The secondary's best player has been senior captain Parrish Gaines (21 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 PD) who has started every game. Gaines led all Navy defenders with seven tackles against Texas State. He had interceptions against Ohio State, Temple and returned an interception 39-yards for a touchdown against VMI.
Cornerback Quincy Adams (43 TT, 6 PD, FF) has quietly developed into one of the Mids best defensive players. The junior Adams always has the size, speed and quick feet you want in a Navy cornerback's skill set Quincy is well built, tough, physical and a good tackler. He's work hard to improve his technique and develop his cover skills. Sophomore Brandon Clements has started every game and made 38 tackles while knocking down three passes. Clements is a solid cover corner with excellent feet and good speed. He has become a lot more physical player than when I first saw him at NAPS.
Junior Kwazel Bertrand moved from cornerback to Rover this year. His inexperienced showed when he was beat a few times on play action. Bertrand leads the defensive backs with 46 tackles and has two passes broken up. Backup cornerback Myer Krah (7 tackles) is not the fastest cornerback but does a nice job playing the ball in coverage.
Special Teams: D
Navy kicker Nick Sloan hit just 3-of-8 field goal attempts this season and lost his job. He had costly misses against in three straight games against Rutgers, Western Kentucky and Air Force. He made only two of six field goal attempts over forty yards. Navy kicker Austin Grebe hit all seven of his extra points in his first game as kicker against VMI. Grebe has 14 touchbacks on his 36 kickoffs. Pablo Beltran is the best punter in Navy history. He is averaging 44.5 yards per punt with nine punts placed inside the 20-yard line. The Mids has averaged just 18.7 per kickoff returns and 1.3 on punt returns. Navy's coverage teams have been excellent the last two years. Beltran and the coverage teams deserve better but the poor kicking and return game are some of the reasons the Mids are under .500 and the special teams earned a "D" grade.
Navy Midseason Report Card: Defense and ST
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