Before we get into the schedule, here’s a brief preview of the possible ups and downs throughout the year.
Malcolm Perry is the best athlete on the Navy team and he will be running the offense. Perry has played quality minutes since the second half of his freshman year at both the A-back position (Navy’s running back) and at quarterback. His experience, paired with Navy’s dynamic offense, means the senior captain is poised to have an incredible year and likely to put up massive numbers.
Here is where the emotions come in.
Perry has fought injuries in his career. This isn’t abnormal for a Navy quarterback, but unlike other years, there are some serious questions regarding those backing up Perry. If Malcolm Perry gets hurt, the Midshipmen’s season may be in serious trouble.
Coach Ken Niumatalolo is one of the most underrated head coaches in all of college football. He has consistently put the Midshipmen in a position for success and may end up being the greatest Navy coach ever when it’s all said and done. He is such a good coach, he broke ties with many friends he was close to and brought in an almost entirely new defensive coaching staff. However, just like many of the starters on the defense, this staff is unproven. Frankly, nobody has any sense of how the defense will perform. Optimists will suggest that Brian Newberry and his staff have tons of experience and will bring a new fire to the defense. Pessimists will be concerned that there are few returning starters, and even those who are returning are coming back to a completely different scheme.
These situations alone lead to a wide variety of possible outcomes for Navy’s 2019 season. Once we look into the game-by-game probable outcomes, things can really get dramatic.
- Week 1: vs. Holy Cross (Aug. 31)
- Week 2: BYE
- Week 3: vs. East Carolina (Sept. 14)
- Week 4: BYE
- Week 5: at Memphis (Sept. 28)
- Week 6: vs. Air Force (Oct. 5)
- Week 7: at Tulsa (Oct. 12)
- Week 8: vs. USF (Oct. 19)
- Week 9: vs. Tulane (Oct. 26)
- Week 10: at UConn (Nov. 1)
- Week 11: BYE
- Week 12: at Notre Dame (Nov. 16)
- Week 13: vs. SMU (Nov. 23)
- Week 14: at Houston (Nov. 30)
- Week 15: vs. Army (Dec. 14)
Week 1 against Holy Cross will be home at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Everything is going to go smoothly in this game, it will be a blowout, and there will be an undue sense of confidence at the end.
After the Week 2 bye, there will be other teams in college football who have one or two losses, but Navy will remain undefeated, increasing the confidence. The Midshipmen then host East Carolina, who isn’t expected to be particularly good, especially after their 3-9 2018 season. This will likely result in a second win.
The Midshipmen have another bye week and will be at 2-0. This will bring even more confidence. The team will head to Memphis in Week 5 and likely walk out with a loss. Navy’s last win at Memphis dates back to 2015 when Keenan Reynolds (and yours truly) led the Midshipmen to a 45-20 dominating win. The Tigers are one of the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference this season.
Unfortunately, this may be the beginning of a tough stretch for Navy. Air Force comes to Annapolis, but as we all know, rivalry games can go either way. Two losses in a row would really crush the team morale, especially as Navy will be getting on the road the following week. However, the home team has won every game in this series since 2012.
Tulsa, in Week 7, should be a win...but it’s not a guarantee. Those who have followed Navy Football for a while know that the Midshipmen will probably lose a game or two each year that they shouldn’t.
If the Midshipmen come out of the Tulsa game with a record of 2-3, hope may be lost, however, there is also a good chance that they could come out of this game as high as 4-1. Once again, this is where the emotional roller coaster could take place all year in what Navy fans are hoping is a turnaround season.
USF is pretty much a toss-up with slight favor for Navy since it’s at home. Navy will have a tough time with Tulane as well, but get the Green Wave at home too. This is a team that has consistently improved in the last four years and beat Navy in a nail biter last season 29-28. Following that, Navy should get a win against UConn. However, the rest of the season could spell trouble.
Winning at Notre Dame will be nearly impossible. SMU at home is another toss-up, unfortunately, in a game Navy lost 31-30 in overtime on the road last year. The last two times Navy played at Houston after Thanksgiving were losses. There is a good chance 2019 will be no different. And finally, the Army-Navy game is undoubtedly a coin flip.
Absolute best case scenario I think, Navy finishes with nine wins, securing victories in every toss-up scattered throughout the season: Air Force, Tulsa, USF, Tulane, SMU and Army. Worst case, the Midshipmen are only able to pull out three wins: Holy Cross, East Carolina, and UConn.
The most likely outcome is that Coach Niumatalolo’s squad finishes somewhere in the middle of these two cases, and for Navy fans, hopefully smack dab in the middle at the very least, as the Midshipmen try to get back to a bowl game after a one year hiatus. Picking up a win against Air Force and Army in that process wouldn’t hurt either.
More than likely, the outcomes of these will be a combination of winning close games that bring us great joy, but also by losing in occasional heartbreaking fashion against teams that should be considered potential wins.