Navy Midshipmen Opponents Quick Hits Week 4

Today we have hit the final part in our preview to the preview series. Each week we will take three teams that Navy will face in 2016 and quick hit on strengths and 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. So far we have looked at teams twelve through ten, nine through seven and six through four. That means this week we look at the three toughest opponents on the Mids schedule this fall.

Today we have hit the final part in our preview to the preview series. Each week we will take three teams that Navy will face in 2016 and quick hit on strengths and 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. So far we have looked at teams twelve through ten, nine through seven and six through four. That means this week we look at the three toughest opponents on the Mids schedule this fall.

USF

Strengths

  • With dynamic dual threat quarterback Quinton Flowers and potential ACC player of the year running back Marlon Mack this backfield is as explosive as they come.
  • If Flowers can be more accurate the receivers will tear it up. Watch here for four-star freshman Darnell Salomon to hit the ground running.
  • The linebacking corps is deep and ready to break out. Auggie Sanchez and Nigel Harris are a perfect fit for this scheme.

Weaknesses

  • The offensive and defensive lines need to replace three starters each.
  • The Bulls are not very efficient in the passing game. If the explosive plays are shut down the offense can get stuck behind the chains.
  • Losing dynamic nickel back Jamie Byrd hurts as USF play a 4-2-5 base. Byrd had 11 tackles for a loss and seven passes defended last season, a pretty unique combination.

Variables

  • South Florida is the tip of many to be this year’s surprise story in the ACC. Can the Bulls handle the pressure?
  • The Bulls went 7-2 (including their bowl game loss) after starting 1-3. Can that progression be maintained?

Prediction – If the South Florida that ended 2015 show up then the Mids are going to struggle to win this game.

Houston

Strengths

  • Houston controls field position as well as anyone Navy faces. The Cougars ranked No. 17 in the country in field position margin last season.
  • Greg Ward Jr. is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the entire FBS.
  • You cannot make mistakes against Houston. The team pounces on every error and is exceptional at attacking, and scoring quickly, after a turnover.

Weaknesses

  • Houston has to replace four starters from a secondary that is based on being aggressive and taking risks.
  • The Cougars only ranked at No. 72 in the advanced metric of rushing success rate, but were bailed out by39 rushes of 20 or more yards. Houston can be stopped on the ground if the big plays are denied.
  • Punter Logan Piper is gone. He kicked a high, unreturnable ball that really helped the Cougars field position advantage.

Variables

  • Houston was very good last year, but the Cougars also got plenty of luck. Will that luck turn on the team this fall?
  • If it all goes wrong early in the season it is easy to see how this could be a meltdown year.

Prediction – Greg Ward Jr. is just the type of quarterback that the Mids have problems stopping. Houston wins this.

Notre Dame

Strengths

  • The depth at quarterback is the best in the country. That means whoever wins the starting job will be one of the best out there.
  • Star running back Tarean Folston returns after missing pretty much all of 2015 and will form a loaded backfield with Josh Adams.
  • The upside in the secondary is tremendous with a number of underclassmen pushing established, and very good, starters during the spring.

Weaknesses

  • You could run on Notre Dame last fall. It is hard to see how that changes as the Irish must replace the three best play-makers in the front seven.
  • The offensive line has depth, but it must replace three starters who combined for 106 career starts.
  • Replacing dynamic weapons Will Fuller and C.J. Prosise is vital if the Irish wish to make a National Title run.

Variables

  • There is no way Notre Dame can be as bitten by the injury bug as they were last season.
  • Brian Kelly quietly had the best coaching job of his career, and probably the best in the entire nation, last fall. He is a legitimate star head coach.

Prediction – Win for Notre Dame after a valiant Navy effort.


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