Opponent Watch: 2017 Navy

Capital Gazette is doing a positional breakdown series for Navy. Since they’re becoming one of our fiercest rivals, figured it would be good to post it here:


PROVEN COMMODITY: Tyler Carmona — As mentioned, Carmona has distinguished himself as a blocker more than a pass-catcher. The Florida native has appeared in 26 games with 12 starts and almost always lined up just outside the tackle box.

Carmona has displayed big-play ability by making receptions of 41 and 47 yards while scoring three touchdowns. However, there have been 17 games over the past two seasons that Carmona did not make a single catch.


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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.

WIth the rescinding of the rule allowing Academy grads to forego service if they have a chance at a pro career, I figured there may be a few transfers like these.


Gilman, who was an honorable mention All-American Athletic Conference selection as a freshman last season, announced the news on Twitter late Wednesday night then confirmed it to The Capital on Thursday morning.

How significant is it that Navy has no commitments at this point?

I would think, because of the service commitment, that Navy would have issues with getting early commits. Looking over their last 3 years at this point:

2017 - 11 commits
2016 - 7 commits
2015 - 3 commits

Remember that last year, the forces were allowed to recruit players that could skip doing their commitment if they had a chance to go pro. That rule has been rescinded as of a month or two ago. With the instability in the world right now, lot of recruits may be shying away from serving.

Bad for the conference in the long run. Weakens our SoS.

But its hard to be upset about it. More important things than pro football. And if that’s something you want to do then go to one of the other 130 FBS schools.

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Like they were listening to you, Eric:


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Llanusa was the starting quarterback at the Naval Academy Prep School during the 2015 season and earned rave reviews for his performance. Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper loved his potential.


The Pasadena resident entered spring practice as the clear-cut starter, but did not take firm control of the offense the way Jasper had hoped. Abey had an up-and-down spring, which caused some consternation among the coaching staff.

“Zach was very inconsistent this spring. He had a deer-in-the-headlights look at times,” Jasper said.“I have to look at myself as a coach. Obviously, I didn’t do a good enough job this spring.”


Berry said Worth’s injury was diagnosed as a stress fracture. Naturally, the training staff and team doctors have wondered what caused that stress. Navy’s training room now has a foot activation station. Berry and his staff are using fusionetics — a performance health system designed to reduce injuries, decrease pain and speed recovery. It serves as a screening tool and provides a prescription of exercises players should employ.

“We have really revamped our training room regimen and introduced some new tools,” Berry said. “We’re definitely looking at our injuries from the ground up. This was a real team effort to address this issue. We will never know the variables of cause and effect. All we can do is tweak the variables as best we can.”


“Things kind of came out of nowhere,” Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo told Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 22. “He went in for a procedure and the next thing you know the poor kid’s fighting for his life. Now he’s at the point now where he’s on an LVAD machine. He’s waiting on a transplant. So the kid’s fighting hard for his life.”



In recent years, as its national profile has skyrocketed, Navy has been able to recruit offensive linemen that are both big and athletic. Hawk, who is quite nimble at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, is a prime example of the new-look offensive linemen the Midshipmen put on the field.

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During the spring, I think Zach was a little tight. This summer, I think he’s relaxed and let his abilities take over,” Niumatalolo said. “Having been in the Army game and the bowl game, Zach recognizes how important it is to be totally dialed in. He’s come with a renewed focus in practice and that’s made a big difference.”

Many national pundits have picked Navy to finish near the bottom of the American Athletic Conference this season, citing a dropoff in performance at the quarterback position as a major reason why. Abey was asked how it feels to have so many so-called experts doubting his ability to execute the triple-option offense.


I sat right next to the Tulane coaching box during the game and repeatedly heard the defensive coordinator calling dive, mid-line and trap as he identified what type of play Navy was running. Fans can expect to see more of the same all season with opponents getting a heavy dose of Abey and High on inside runs.

However, you can also be sure that defensive coordinators in the American Athletic Conference have already taken note of that fact and will now be loading the box in order to stuff the fullback dive, the quarterback follow play and the mid-line option.

Abey must prove that he can be a perimeter running threat and is also adept at pitching to the slots in order to prove to future opponents that Navy is truly a triple-option team. The Midshipmen also must find a way to get the slots more involved to bring that outside threat.