Coach Ken Niumatalolo places great trust in his coordinators. Therefore, so long as he kept defensive coordinator, Dale Pehrson, on board, he was going to support Pehrson’s choices for defensive assistants.
Shortly after season’s end, Dale Pehrson retired from coaching after spending the last 23 years with the Navy Midshipmen. This gave Coach Niumatalolo an opportunity to do what many have been suggesting for a long time: make a significant change to the defensive coaching staff.
Coach Sione Po’uha, who coached the defensive line, left Navy for his alma mater, Utah. However, we now see his departure may have been inevitable. Other defensive departures included, Tony Granthom, Napoleon Sykes, and Dan O’Brien. All three coaches had great rapport with the players and were well received. But alas, defensive play was poor, and changes needed to be made.
Coach Brian Newberry, from Kennesaw State, has now been confirmed as the new Defensive Coordinator for the Midshipmen. For weeks, we knew Newberry would soon become the official new DC for Navy, however what we didn’t know was who he was going to bring on to the staff.
New members of the defense coaching staff, with Newberry, include Brian Norwood, Kevin Downing, and P. J. Norwood. All of whom have solid backgrounds and resumes. Although, Brian Norwood is by far the most notable addition. Previously, Norwood was a defensive coordinator at Kansas State under the legendary, Bill Snyder. This experience should be incredibly beneficial for Navy.
Both Coach Downing and Coach Volker are being brought over from Kennesaw State with Coach Newberry. Previously, Downing has worked with the secondary, while Volker has worked with linebackers. We can expect Norwood to coach the secondary, fulfilling the roles that Coach O’Brien and Sykes previously held. Additionally, Volker will likely coach the linebackers. But where Coach Downing will be placed is yet to be determined. He should be set to coach the outside linebackers or defensive ends.
Still on staff with Navy are coaches Steve Johns, Justin Davis and R.B. Green. Johns has coached the middle linebackers, and Davis, outside linebackers, at Navy, for about a decade. Davis has also spent time with the defensive line. So, we can expect at least one of these three coaches, Johns, Davis, and Volker, will take over with the defensive line. If I were a betting man, Coach Davis will move to the defensive line, and Coach Johns will coach the outside linebackers. Coach Green came on staff while he was still on active duty as a Marine Lieutenant Colonel, and remained following his military retirement. Green has spent time working with Linebackers and Defensive Backs over the last few years; he will remain on as a defensive assistant.
Ultimately, it will be up to Coach Newberry to organize his staff to put the Midshipmen in the best position to stop opposing offenses and help Navy win games. Last season, Navy averaged almost 30 points scored against per game. Therefore, it won’t be difficult for Newberry to improve the Midshipmen’s defense from last year. However, the American Athletic Conference will be a big step up for Newberry, having come from an FCS school. Only time will tell.