On the opening weekend of the most unique college football season we have seen in a long time, the Navy Midshipmen welcomed BYU to Annapolis. It wasn’t pretty by any means, unless, of course, you’re a BYU fan. The Midshipmen lost badly, 55-3.
Now, I’m not making excuses because the scoreboard really does speak for itself, but this was the first real opportunity the Navy players had to fully block and tackle since their bowl game against Kansas State nine months prior. Coach Ken Niumatalolo had kept the players from significant contact in practices in order to mitigate COVID-19 risks.
The Midshipmen have had two weeks since their loss to BYU to recuperate and fix their deficiencies on offense, defense, and even special teams, before taking on the Tulane Green Wave.
Special teams was probably the smallest area that needed help. Sophomore Daniel Davies took over punting responsibilities. His first few punts weren’t great, but they got better over the game. Davies may need to have a big game if the offense continues to struggle.
On defense, the Midshipmen simply didn’t look comfortable tackling. The size of the BYU players — especially on the Cougars’ offensive line — was too much for the defense to overcome. Diego Fagot didn’t have trouble tackling, of course, racking up 13 total stops, two of which were for losses.
We’ll have to see if tackling drills in practice will translate to performance against Tulane.
The biggest concern heading into the weekend is the lack of offensive efficiency. Senior quarterback Dalen Morris started the game against BYU but was replaced by Perry Olsen after halftime. Olsen appeared to be more comfortable under center, but just last week, he entered the transfer portal. So, it appears as though Morris is the clear starter for Navy, for now. We can only hope the offensive line improves, giving Morris and his backfield a chance at moving the ball.
Tulane Green Wave
Tulane played their first game of the season last week against South Alabama, and won a close one, 27-24. This would typically be a good sign for the Midshipmen, since South Alabama hasn’t traditionally been very good, but this season is just different. Assessing an opponent is nearly impossible because there are so much incomplete information and factors beyond our control.
Furthermore, unlike the NFL, college players’ performances are much more influenced by their emotional and mental well-being.
Ultimately, the Midshipmen should approach this game as if it were the first game of the season. Forget about their loss to BYU and use the film they have against the Green Wave to their advantage.
For those who have followed the Tulane-Navy battles over the past few years, I have good news for you: Justin McMillan graduated! McMillan was a great quarterback for the Green Wave over the past two years that made life difficult for Navy. Now, Tulane has Keon Howard leading their offense. Howard when 14-for-30 for 191 yards in their opener against South Alabama. While his numbers weren’t overly impressive in Week One, we can expect him to settle in and improve this week against Navy.
It’s likely that head coach Willie Fritz and his staff will endeavor to defend the triple-option much like BYU did. However, Tulane likely doesn't have the same kind of athletes as the Cougars. Therefore, it will be up to Navy’s execution of the offense to out-perform the Green Wave defense.
The Midshipmen get to travel to New Orleans and life should be re-ignited into the players by getting to leave the confines of the Naval Academy. While this may be a distraction, it may also relieve them of the stresses that are embedded in academy life. Because of this, the performance from Navy, on all sides of the ball, will be much improved from Week One.
In a close match, Navy takes the victory, 21-17.
How To Watch
- Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. EST Saturday, Sept 19
- Where: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA
- Watch: ABC | Mark Jones and Dusty Dvoracek will have the call, while Quint Kessenich reports from the sidelines.
- Spread: Tulane is favored by 6.5 points with the Over/Under at 48.5.