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Position Breakdown: Navy quarterbacks

The success of Navy Football rests heavily on the health of the starting quarterback. Malcolm Perry enters the fall as the starter.

Temple v Navy Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Navy Football quarterback situation is very simple. But at the same time, it can become quite complicated very quickly.

Rising senior, Malcolm Perry, will start the season under center for the Midshipmen, no questions asked. But beyond him, there are many questions. Let’s take a look at the path that Perry has taken up to this point.

Malcolm Perry

The very first game of the 2016 season began with the Midshipmen welcoming Fordham to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. At that time, Perry was a freshman and fourth on the quarterback depth chart. Tago Smith was at the top, Will Worth behind him, and Zach Abey in third. Although Abey suited up for the home game, he was unofficially suspended for breaking a team rule earlier in the summer. Coach Ken Niumatalolo only suited up three quarterbacks for the game, which was expected to be a blowout in favor of Navy. Unfortunately, Tago Smith tore his ACL early in the game. Will Worth stepped up and filled in. But now, Navy was down to only one quarterback. Because all Midshipmen are required to attend the games, in their military uniforms, Malcolm Perry was in the stands with the rest of the school’s pupils. Then...

...Coach Niumatalolo sent an equipment staff member back to the main campus of the Naval Academy to get Perry’s equipment, pulled him out of the stands, and had him change into football uniform. He was put in the game during the fourth quarter and led the team on a scoring drive. Welcome to college football.

NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Louisiana Tech vs Navy Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Because Perry demonstrated his incredible athleticism, Coach Niumatalolo knew he needed to get Perry on the field somehow. He was then transitioned to an A-back, Navy’s running back position. Again, injuries plagued the Midshipmen and Perry was called upon, once again, to quarterback. On his very first play under center, in his very first collegiate bowl game, Perry scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to tie the game 45-45 in the fourth quarter against Louisiana Tech. Wow!

Truly impressive.

In his sophomore campaign, Malcolm Perry was, again, tossed around between A-back and quarterback. But after an injury to Zach Abey, who played quarterback the vast majority of the season, Perry showed out running the offense at the end of the season. Before leaving the game due to an injury himself, Perry looked absolutely dominant in the 2017 Military Bowl against the University of Virginia, leading the Midshipmen to a 49-7 victory.

Military Bowl - Virginia v Navy Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After his performance at the end of the season, it became obvious that Perry, and the Midshipmen for that matter, needed to see what he could when committing himself to the quarterback position full-time. Niumatalolo made the switch and gave Perry the game ball to start the next season.

However, things didn’t go well for Perry, nor Navy, in 2018. The Midshipmen finished the season 3-10. Perry only started four games before being injured.

Luckily for the Midshipmen his injuries were small, but it highlights the ever-long dilemna for Navy Football: The success of Navy Football rests heavily on the health of the starting quarterback.

After the 2018 season, Garret Lewis and Zach Abey, both of whom contributed at the quarterback position, graduated. Many doubted that Perry would stay at quarterback and believed he was too small to survive the amount of beatings that Navy quarterbacks take. Regardless, Malcolm Perry stands atop the depth chart at quarterback heading into the summer.

Navy needs their best athlete under center, and at the moment, Perry is their man. But of course, he needs to stay healthy. Coach Niumatalolo and Offensive Coordinator, Ivin Jasper, will be committed to employing an offense that gets the most out of Perry’s athleticism, but also protects him from exposure as much as possible.

Strengths:

  1. Blazing Speed and Quickness
  2. Unequivocal Grit
  3. Humility and Leadership

Areas to Improve:

  1. Passing Accuracy and Strength
  2. Decision Making to Avoid Possible Injury

Now, for the uncertainty, Dalen Morris.

Navy Sports

Dalen Morris

Dalen Morris, a junior, has seen action in just two football games, for a total of three carries. On these carries, he has ran for a total of four yards and a fumble.

That’s not great.

But, on the bright side, Morris is much less likely to have the injury issues that Navy quarterbacks have been troubled with over the past three seasons. Morris stands at a massive, 6-foot-1, and 204 pounds. Okay, he’s not massive for your typical college football player. However for a triple-option quarterback at Navy, he is well above average.

Furthermore, Morris has a better arm than Perry, which is something that Navy quarterbacks are constantly lacking. With a full off-season, Morris will be more than prepared, physically, to fill in at quarterback. The Midshipmen have a top Strength and Conditioning staff, led by Bryan Fitzpatrick. What is yet to be seen is how well Morris will make split-second decisions off of the complicated defensive presentations Navy has seen in the American Athletic Conference.

Strengths:

  1. Size and Strength
  2. Above Average Passing Ability for a Navy Quarterback
  3. Youth

Areas to Improve:

  1. Comfort Running the Offense
  2. Game Experience

There is no doubt Perry will be required to come out of a game or two for maintenance injuries(twisted ankles, helmet coming off, etc), AT LEAST. At this time, Morris will be called to fill-in, without missing a beat, for some period of time. It may be for a play. It may be for the rest of the season. If he can do that, the Midshipmen will have a solid chance this season to be competitive in the AAC.