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Navy Midshipmen Opponents Quick Hits Week 1

At the beginning of June we will start a series looking at the Mids upcoming opponents as a traditional preview. Think of this series of four articles as the preview to the preview. Each week we will take three teams that Navy will face in 2016 and quick hit on three strengths and three weaknesses of each. These mini-previews are going to be set out in the reverse order of the team’s projected strength for the 2016 season.

At the beginning of June we will start a series looking at the Mids upcoming opponents as a traditional preview. Think of this series of four articles as the preview to the preview. Each week we will take three teams that Navy will face in 2016 and quick hit on three strengths and three weaknesses of each. These mini-previews are going to be set out in the reverse order of the team’s projected strength for the 2016 season.

Fordham

Strengths

  • Fordham returns 18 starters from a team that finished No. 19 nationally with a record of 9-3.
  • All-America running back Chase Edwards (1,648 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing) returns for his senior season and will be the focal point of a strong offensive unit.
  • The defense has looked better this spring with the linebackers being especially active and disrupting passing lanes.

Weaknesses

  • Head coach Joe Moorhead left to become offensive coordinator at Penn State after four very successful seasons with the Rams. He turned around a team that had four losing seasons in a row before he took control and amassed a 38-13 record.
  • The Rams have a huge hole to fill on the offensive line after the graduation of guard Garrick Mayweather. Mayweather was signed as an UDFA by the Kansas City Chiefs, showing what kind of player Fordham will have to replace.
  • Unless there is a scheme change the defense can be too passive and allow offenses to dictate the flow of the game.

Variables

  • This is the opening game of the season so anything can happen
  • Fordham has had recent success against FBS teams. Just ask Army.
  • How will Tago Smith react to being the undisputed starting quarterback for the first time in his career?

Prediction - Navy win in a game that is tighter than expected for the first three quarters

Tulane

Strengths

  • Tulane has developed a strong ground game over the spring. Four backs combined to give the team almost 200 yards during the Spring Game.
  • The pass rush is also vastly improved over last year. Defenses are always on top during the spring, but nine sacks during the spring showpiece is nothing to gloss over.
  • Defensive backs Donnie Lewis and Parry Nickerson are capable players who will step up and lead an athletic defense that has the ability to improve.

Weaknesses

  • The passing game is a work in progress at best. During the Tulane’s Spring Game the three quarterbacks on show combined to go 7-of-17 for one touchdown and one interception.
  • The kicking game is UGLY. A special teams showcase before the Spring Game saw the two kickers competing for the gig go a combined 2-for-9 with shots from between 35 and 41 yards out.
  • The Green Wave returns just four starters on offense and are without a quarterback after Tanner Lee transferred to Nebraska.

Variables

  • This is the Mids first road game of the season.
  • New head coach Willie Fritz has a successful record when it comes to rebuilding programs.

Prediction – Fritz will turn Tulane around, but it won’t be this year. Navy wins big.

Army

Strengths

  • The offensive line will be good as long as the starters and key reserves can stay healthy.
  • The Black Knights return 10 starters on a unit that was easily Army’s best in the last five years or so. These young players will be ready to take their games to the next level in 2016.
  • Army will not beat itself with penalties. They gave up just four per game last year.

Weaknesses

  • Army was -11 in the giveaway/take away metric last year while turning the ball over 22 times.
  • This is hard to quantify, but the Black Knights certainly seemed to be the unluckiest team in the nation last year. Finishing 1-7 in one possession games makes this a trend as opposed to an aberration.
  • The quarterback situation is unresolved with two players competing for the job. Both Chris Carter and Ahmad Bradshaw have an equal number of negatives and positives making this decision a difficult one.

Variables

  • Only one. Its Army vs. Navy.

Prediction – It is a rivalry game so it is obviously harder to predict than most. Army will be up for this thinking it is the year to break Navy’s streak. The Mids hang on in a close one.


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