The Navy Midshipmen (3-1) dropped its first game of the season to Air Force (4-0) in Colorado Springs. Anyone that saw the game will already know that this review is not going to be the most flattering for a Navy team that was either outperformed or underperformed in pretty much every phase of the contest, especially in the second half. Navy has been so successful recently that defeats of this scale don't come around all that often, but if it can be used as a teaching tool by Ken Niumatalolo then the Mids can still deliver a season with a big win total.
PASSING OFFENSE: D
The yardage total here looks decent, but a little digging shows that the Navy pass offense was ineffective at key times on Saturday. Quarterback Will Worth was 17-of-30 for 260 yards, but he threw zero touchdowns and a couple of interceptions. The first of those picks was a brutal one, making a bad decision with the game still well within reach and the Mids down just 10-0 in the third quarter and moving the ball. Air Force scored its second touchdown of the game just two plays later to put the contest to bed. The Navy passing attack was certainly called upon too much, but the execution has to be better in key situations no matter how the Mids try to move the ball.
RUSHING OFFENSE: F
This is only an F because that is the lowest the scale goes.Navy came into the game ranked fifth in the country, before laying one of the biggest eggs in the tenure of coach Ken Niumatalolo. On the game Navy rushed for almost 260 less than its season average, managing just 57 yards on 38 carries. That is an average of 1.5 yards per carry. Ironically he rushing game didn't get off to a terrible start, but after a bad penalty on the Mids first drive the wheels fell off fast. Chris High was the game leader for the mids with 32 yards on 11 carries as the blocking, execution, and dynamic running we have seen just fell apart.
PASSING DEFENSE: D
Air Force quarterback Nate Romine didn't have to pass often, but when he did the Mids were incapable of stopping a passing attack that had been lifeless through three games. Romine was 8 for 14 passing the ball, for 257 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Those two touchdown passes went for 75 yards and 62 yards, with Jalen Robinette proving especially difficult for the Mids to handle as he racked up five receptions for 163 yards, including the 75 score. This pass defense is now a massive concern moving forward.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B
The only part of the Mids game that was functioning at all on Saturday was the rushing defense. Air Force came into the contest second in the nation in rushing with well over 300 yards per game as their average. Against Navy, they could only muster 173 yards on the ground with one touchdown on 53 carries. The best aspect of this part of the game was that the longest run all day was just 12 yards, meaning there was no game breaking plays by the Falcons rushing attack. Jacobi Owens was the Falcons best rusher on the day, going for 63 yards on 15 carries. This is an area Navy can build on.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Nothing groundbreaking from the Mids special teams, but nothing particularly bad either. Bennett Moehring was perfect on extra points, but he never had the chance for a field goal after the Mids opening drive was hit by a penalty that pushed the ball out of his range. The return game got nothing of note going, but the coverage units were fine. One bright spot though was the punting where sophomore Erik Harris was booming kicks all day and averaged 50 yards on his four punts.
When the Mids took a 3-0 deficit into the locker room at halftime this was still a game either team could win. Thirty minutes later, however, the Navy offense had done nothing but misfire (and complete passes to Air Force safety Weston Steelhammer), while the defense broke down and allowed two long touchdowns of the sort that rarely happen to a Niumatalolo coached team. Clearly, the better adjustments here were made at half time by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, including getting the Falcons best defensive player (Steelhammer) back on the field after his first half suspension. It feels like Niumatalolo is limited at this point in how he can make Navy better during the flow of a contest, meaning that the Mids preparation has to be on point every week from here on out,
OVERALL GRADE: D
Just an ugly, ugly second half from a team that over the last five or so years has pretty consistently finished the stronger of the two teams in any game. Air Force is a solid, veteran team that just outlasted Navy as the game went on in the oxygen-sapping altitude of Colorado Springs. This is a game Navy will learn from and, with any luck, come back with a bang this coming Saturday against a top 5 team (Houston).