2022 Navy Midshipmen Preview

by Matt Fargo

Navy Midshipmen

2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-5 American) - 8-4-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 6
Defense - 6

Overview

Navy has gone 7-15 over the last two seasons which is its worst two-year run since 2001-2002 when it went a combined 2-20 in the last season for head coach Charlie Weatherbie and the first season for head coach Paul Johnson. Johnson completely turned the program around by going 43-14 after that first season before leaving for Georgia Tech and Ken Niumatalolo maintained that success with winning seasons in nine of his first 10 years but times have gotten tough with a 21-27 record from 2018-2021. The Midshipmen have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball over this stretch but have faced a brutal schedule over the last two years and last season could have been better as four of eight losses came by one possession although three of the four victories came by four points or less so it does go both ways. This is a big swing season for Niumatalolo who is feeling some heat.

Offense

Navy struggled mightily on offense as it finished No. 126 overall and No. 118 in scoring and it was the second straight season where it averaged 285 total yards or less. The rushing game has been the forefront for years and while Navy finished No. 7 in the country with 225.9 rushing ypg, that was deceiving. It averaged only 4.0 ypc and in comparison, it averaged 6.1 ypc during its 11-2 season in 2019. Now it is a complete turnover of running backs as Isaac Ruoss, Carlinos Acie and James Harris II have moved on after running for 1,594 yards and the leading returning rusher is quarterback Tai Lavatai who gained 371 yards but on just 2.2 ypc. The Midshipmen will be smaller but quicker in the backfield and it will be up to the offensive line to improve after injuries really hurt the unit last season but because of that, there is a ton of experience with the interior the biggest question.

Defense

The defense helped keep games competitive as the Midshipmen finished No. 40 in total defense but No. 84 in scoring defense as too many big plays were allowed at the wrong time. A big problem was that Navy took the ball over only 13 times which was tied for No. 102 in the nation so gaining more turnovers is vital which of course helps any defense. Additionally, Navy registered only 16 sacks which was tied for No. 118 so these two intangibles need to get better quickly. Three of the top four tacklers are gone with the biggest losses coming at linebacker with Diego Fagot and Johnny Hodges taking 144 tackles out of the mix but John Marshall and Tyler Fletcher return after 101 tackles so it will not be a huge drop off and they need to get into the backfield. The cornerback situation is unsettled which is a really giant concern after finishing No. 111 in passing efficiency defense.

2022 Season Outlook

Niumatalolo turned this team around in 2019 following a 3-10 season in 2018 so getting back on track is a good possibly especially after facing the third hardest schedule in the country. The bad news is that it will be just as tough this season as their opponents went 100-52 with only two teams that had losing records and one of those is from the FCS. The Midshipmen open with a pair of home games against Delaware, which is an important first game to see where they stand before hosting Memphis is the AAC opener. Three of the next four games are on the road and all against teams projected for winning records before a pair of home games. Navy spends all of November away from home against Cincinnati, Notre Dame, UCF and Army. The O/U win total is set at 4.5 and with a schedule set up like this, that is going to be a very tough number to surpass unless the luck goes their way. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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