Projected 2017 record and S&P+ ranking: 6-6 (71st)
Biggest strength: In quarterback Zach Abey and fullback Chris High, Navy appears to have the backbone of a dangerous-as-ever option backfield.
Biggest question mark: How much of last year’s defensive collapse was due to inexperience at linebacker and (especially) defensive back, and how much was due to talent issues? If more latter than former, a rebound is far from guaranteed.
Biggest 2017 game: Besides the obvious (Army, Dec. 8), we’ll say UCF (Oct. 20). A brutal AAC schedule requires the Midshipmen to travel to Tulsa, Memphis, Temple, and Houston, so any division title hopes will likely require winning out at home. And UCF could be in pretty good form by late-October.
Summary: Navy lost a legendary quarterback, dealt with key injuries, and fell all the way to nine wins and a division title in 2016. That sets the bar pretty high considering the Midshipmen don’t have as much turnover to deal with in 2017.