On Friday we looked at five reasons why the Mids may struggle in 2016 given the success the program has had over the past few seasons. Today we are going to reverse that theory and embrace the power of positivity. Doing so enables us to come up with five good reasons that the Mids will not only exceed expectations in 2016, but also be just as good as they have been recently.
Ken Niumatalolo is still the head coach
With Keenan Reynolds moving on there is going to be a change of leadership on the field this fall. What the Mids could not allow was for there to be a change in leadership on the sidelines as well. For a while, when BUY came to court Niumatalolo, it looked like this might be the case. Thankfully though the Navy pull was just too strong and the Mids got to keep the only head coach the school has known in almost a decade. Niumatalolo has had just one losing season in eight as the Navy coach and he is the perfect man to pull the Mids through this season in a stronger way than imagined by most analysts.
The triple option is still in place
Regardless of talent the triple option is still a nightmare to defend on a week’s notice. While the loss of Reynolds will certainly be felt, the system allows quarterbacks to step in and be successful as long as they know the offense and can make the right reads. The blocking schemes will still be hard for defending teams to cope with and the Navy coaching staff really seems to believe in senior Tago Smith who has had plenty of time in the system and is said to know the playbook and the scheme inside out.
Attention to detail
Navy was damn good last season, but there was one glaring weakness and that was the Mids special team units. Niumatalolo has since made a change in his special team coordinator and Navy has done more special teams work during spring practice than at any other point since he has been head coach. Last season opponents averaged 24.2 yards on kickoff returns against Navy, and both South Florida and Pittsburgh scored on the game’s opening kickoff return. Watch this space and see if the emphasis put on his phase of play works in Navy’s favor this season.
The Mids have a point to prove
An aspect of sport that doesn’t often get factored into this kind of discussion is that of motivation. For three off seasons running the Mids had Reynolds set in place at quarterback and the team was simply expected to be better each year. Now Reynolds is gone it seems that outsiders have the Mids falling apart. In one preseason quarterback ranking of AAC signal callers Tago Smith was placed at tenth out of the twelve options. That kind of thing infuriates both the quarterback and his coach, with both now having serious bulletin board material to take with them as the season progresses.
Navy is uniquely blessed in the college football world as the team is basically a locker room full of future leaders. With all the turnover from 2015, with so many seniors leaving, would be a hammer blow to most teams as the leadership void would just be brutal. For Navy however new players just step up to make fill the holes. Daniel Gonzales and Toneo Gulley are the new team captains, while a whole slew of players have been named position group captains to allow for a smooth transfer of information to flow throughout the team.