It isn’t all that common for a regional newspaper to do a full college football countdown as they usually are concentrating on sporting events in their local area. That though is not the way of the Orlando Sentinel and specifically their college football insider Matt Murschel who has spent much of the late winter/spring/summer evaluating all of the 128 teams in the nation and putting them in order from worst to first. Murschel has Navy at #67 and here are the reasons why.
‘Pehrson oversaw a unit that improved its rushing defense from No. 94 to No. 32, its redzone defense from No. 38 to No. 12 and scoring defense from No. 70 to No. 26 in the span of a year.’
It is interesting that Murschel credits much of the defensive turnaround that occurred last fall to Dale Pehrson who stepped in when Buddy Green took a leave of absence from the defensive coordinator position. The numbers above, and the Mids new ability to effect games with the play of their defensive unit, would seem to suggest there is something to this line of thinking. With Pehrson now set as the DC it will be vital Navy maintains their defensive strength, especially as the Mids have seven starters returning on this side of the ball.
‘Coaches will rely on 5-foot-10 senior quarterback Tago Smith to fill the huge void left by Reynolds. Smith has been the backup quarterback for the past two seasons and even started two games as a sophomore while Reynolds recovered from an injury.’
The ability of Tago Smith to be the Navy quarterback and to somehow continue on from Keenan Reynolds is without doubt the biggest question coming into this season. The Navy offense is complex and it is confounding, but it only works with the right guy under center. As the article goes on to point out it is not like Smith will even have the luxury of a multiyear staring line in front of him as the Mids were decimated by graduations in the trenches.
Interestingly in the outlook section of the piece Murschel is not nearly as pessimistic as some have been about the Mids chances in 2016. He even believes that Navy ‘can retain its status as one of the teams to beat in the AAC West’ in large part due to the continued mystery of the triple option to other teams in the conference. This piece is well worth a read.