Opponent Watch: 2019 Navy

They’ll be breaking in a new DC next year. Pehrson’s son is currently employed at UH and is helping with Recruiting.

“No Coach has had more impact on Navy football than Dale Pehrson,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “In his 23 years here, he has coached thousands of young men, recruited hundreds, beaten Army 16 times, 15 Bowl games, won 10 CIC’s, beaten Notre Dame 4 times, and won 11 games in a single season - most in school history. As great of a coach as Dale is, he is even a better person. I wish Dale and Marty the best of luck as they enter the next chapter in their lives!”

Niumatalolo very publicly addressed the defensive deficiencies during the offseason by overhauling the coaching staff on that side of the ball. Navy has five new defensive assistants, including coordinator Brian Newberry.

Navy will begin to address its offensive issues when spring practice begins on Monday. Niumatalolo revealed during an interview with The Capital last week that Malcolm Perry is returning to quarterback and the coaching staff will tailor the offense to suit his skill set.

“I think some of the things I’ve cried wolf about before have kind of fallen on deaf ears. It’s not falling on deaf ears anymore,” Niumatalolo said. “I’ve been way more vocal this offseason because the truth has got to come out. Our league is getting better and better – so the gap is definitely widening.”

Niumatalolo engaged in several spirited meetings with long-time athletic director Chet Gladchuk regarding the future of Navy football. There was healthy debate about what improvements are absolutely necessary, but the coach was pleased with the progress.

“Chet and I had some long, hard discussions about this during the offseason,” Niumatalolo said. “I think everybody recognizes that coaching, playing and recruiting have got to be better, but support from the athletic director and administration – the superintendent and commandant – is also needed in order to compete at this level.”

Funny, I didn’t see any mention of how to play dirty and get away with it.


Niumatalolo should know not to have such high expectations of Chet. Chet will probably organize an alum volunteer facility improvement project.

I would guess he wants additional latitude on recruiting and relaxed expectations for players on campus so they can spend more time on FB.

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Relaxed recruiting? Sorry, No. You are going to the Naval Academy to become a naval or marine officer first, not a football player. The taxpayers are paying for your scholarship. If you can excel at athletics while at one of our military academies, that’s great.

As the fine young men and women have decided they want to serve our country, I am grateful. I expect them to act with honor and integrity. Regrettably, I have not seen that carried though under Coach Niumatalolo.


If he expects the commandant to relax the requirements for the academy, he is in for a big disappointment. The kids know what they are in for when they sign up; if they don’t they soon find out. I want and expect our military academies to be just that – institutions dedicated to the education and development of officers to serve our nation. They have always been bastions of academic excellence and high standards of conduct. I think every cadet or midshipman to adhere to the same standards as every other member.

Navy Midshipmen

Head coach : Ken Niumatalolo (87-58, 13th year)

2018 record and S&P+ ranking : 3-10 (101st)

Projected 2019 record and S&P+ ranking : 4-8 (118th)

Five key points :

1. Niumatalolo’s success almost cost Navy, because the status quo was pretty good. It isn’t anymore. Navy is reinvesting following a 3-10 collapse.
2. While the infrastructure is rebuilt, Niumatalolo is counting on a coordinator change to bring life back to a defense that both bent and broke last fall.
3. There’s potentially an exciting young secondary in place, but the pass defense might improve just in time for the run defense to regress with new DEs and ILBs.
4. Offensive improvement depends on QB improvement. Malcolm Perry is explosive but inconsistent. The slotbacks need to be more involved, too.
5. The schedule is rugged, as usual. S&P+ projections tend to underestimate service academies, but Navy is a double-digit underdog in eight games. It’ll be tough finding six wins.

Outlook: Niumatalolo didn’t shy away from taking responsibility for last season’s decline, telling the Capital Gazette, “It all starts with me. I’ve got to coach better and I’ve got to find a way to get our team to play better.” The defensive coordinator change could help the Midshipmen get back on track after they allowed more than 33 points per game last season for the first time since 2007.

2019 Schedule

Aug. 31 Holy Cross

Sept. 14 East Carolina

Sept. 26 at Memphis

Oct. 5 Air Force

Oct. 12 at Tulsa

Oct. 19 USF

Oct. 26 Tulane

Nov. 1 at UConn

Nov. 16 at Notre Dame

Nov. 23 SMU

Nov. 30 at Houston

Dec. 14 vs. Army

There’s also the factor of Navy’s move to the American Athletic Conference four years ago. Playing in a conference means opponents can get familiar with the offense. Navy’s triple-option isn’t new to conference rivals. Niumatalolo pointed to Johnson’s up-and-downs coaching Georgia Tech and believes it’s cyclical.

“I can tell people are working on us in the offseason,” Niumatalolo said. “You can tell they have a package for us. In years past, they maybe started in camp. More last year, we weren’t as good. That’s just the truth. Teams were better last year. At one point, five of our opponents had like one loss. You can tell they prepare. Some of it, we had to adjust on the run. They’d line up totally different. We’ll have a better idea. There were four or five games where you throw out the game plan because they lined up totally different than we thought.”

JoeTalk preview of Navy from Underdog Dynasty pawdcast

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57 ???..Geez. This sounds like Texas back in the day…

By far the most notable staff change came at defensive coordinator with Dale Pehrson retiring after 23 seasons at Navy and being replaced by Brian Newberry.

Having seen Newberry in action leading defensive meetings or devising schemes during spring practice, Niumatalolo believes the Midshipmen will be much improved on that side of the ball.

Niumatalolo called Newberry the “best defensive coach I’ve ever been around” and said the former Kennesaw State coordinator has “a beautiful mind.”

“He is very creative and does some exotic stuff,” Niumatalolo said. “Coach Newberry just has that ‘it’ factor. He has great leadership qualities, a presence that people gravitate toward.”

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What makes the run-and-shoot a perfect fit with the triple-option is that passing or running plays can be executed out of the same formations. Also, the run-and-shoot is similar to the triple-option in that decisions are made by reading the defense.

“Our option morphs based off what the defense is doing. We adjust the play-calling and blocking schemes to whatever we’re seeing,” Niumatalolo said. “I wanted the same thing in the passing game. With the run-and-shoot, you have to read coverages.”

Navy has installed a base group of passing routes that are automatically adjusted to the defensive coverage. “We might have six routes that look like 40 because of the different variations that are available,” Niumatalolo said.

Stutzmann spent considerable time during the offseason sitting in a meeting room delivering extended tutorials about the run-and-shoot. Niumatalolo, Jasper and other offensive assistants asked questions and completely deciphered the package. From those sessions emerged a plan for how Navy would implement elements of the run-and-shoot.

“Coach Niumat told me he wanted some new concepts, some easy throws to execute,” Stutzmann said. “I tossed some ideas out on the board and whatever stuck is what we went with.”

Sophomore Tony Brown started instead of junior Jacob Springer at the outside position known as striker. Promising freshman Tama Tuitele started at the WILL inside linebacker spot over senior Walter Little. Sophomore Kevin Brennan started in place of senior Elan Nash at bandit safety.

“It’s a week-to-week deal and those decisions are based off practice performance,” Newberry said after Navy routed East Carolina, 42-10, in the American Athletic Conference opener for both schools.

Let’s see, the Fighting Irish playing in Ireland – I wonder who the fans will be pulling for. Talk about a home game on the road…

Sounds like a great experience for some young men, some of whom will be later stationed all over the world protecting us. Good for them.