Wow! 2020 has been a roller coaster ride, not the least of which has included this short Navy football season.
Week One might have been one of the most difficult to watch Navy games I have ever seen. It seemed like things were only getting worse when last year’s No. 2 — Perry Olsen — entered the transfer portal.
God bless Coach Ken for doing what we have come to expect: immediately assuming extreme ownership for the loss, and resetting with his coaching staff for the next game. I am #TeamCoachKen till the day I die for a number of reasons, but this kind of reaction after a win is near the top of the list:
Unfortunately, the first half of last Saturday just felt like what we saw against BYU. The game began with a late announcement to start true freshman Xavier Arline at quarterback, a name made for lacrosse (oh wait, he plays that too). Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised with what this guy was doing out there in the first half. I think once he gets a little more confidence and experience under his belt, the Mids’ offense will be in good hands — next season.
I say that because 2020 is The Year of Dalen Morris. The coaching staff decided to bring Morris back in during the second quarter because the Mids needed someone to sling the rock due to the deficit and, man, Dalen did not disappoint. This is his year, and I’m not entertaining arguments to the contrary right now.
Dalen Morris said it was "disheartening" to lose the starting quarterback job after playing just one half of the season opener.— Capital Gazette Sports (@AACapitalSports) September 21, 2020
He regrouped and was ready when called upon in the next game, leading @NavyFB to a 27-24 come-from-behind victory over Tulane. https://t.co/XG0QQgkRQl
Most of the sports world knows how it happened at this point, so I won’t reiterate. Gavin has the recap right here, in case you missed it. All I’m gonna say is that, it’s hard to recall a more satisfying Navy win that did not involve Army or Air Force. It was, after all, the biggest comeback in Navy football history.
Six of the worst quarters of football Navy has ever played, followed up by two of the most exciting in recent memory. That second half is what season turnarounds are made of. Man, what a difference 30 minutes makes.
It’s worth noting that Navy got its fair share of individual player accolades following the game as well. I mentioned Morris at the top, but shoutout to Diego Fagot and Bijan Nichols for their own huge efforts.
Navy is 1-1 on the season, but 1-0 in the American Athletic Conference and they are on the hunt for anyone who counted them out of 2020 after just 90 minutes of football.
Next up is the first match-up in the hunt for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy as Navy travels to Colorado Springs to face Air Force on Oct. 3. I’m not going to dive down the rabbit hole of “turnbacks” or make a case for an asterisk in 2020 (although those hyperlinks are definitely worth your time). I also don’t care about the hole Troy Calhoun has dug for his team as the Mountain West has finally decided it’s now safe to play football this fall. All I care about right now is that match-up next weekend, and Navy starting their first winning streak of the season.
Way ahead this season
I was never really super worried about the defense gelling, even though they clearly lacked appropriate conditioning (hitting) in Week One, and Week Two started off less than ideal. That said, they returned a number of their starters, and the mastermind that is Brian Newberry is till in Naptown; so it was only a matter of time before they got going. Hopefully, what we saw in the second half vs. Tulane — a complete shutout — is what we’ll see from the defense going ahead.
The offense was the biggest question mark coming into the season, specifically the man under center. I don’t know about other Navy fans, but for me, I know who my quarterback is this season.
I’m not going to try and make a case for Navy winning the AAC this year at this point. Right now #IBelieve more in the last two quarters than the first six this season. If those are any indication of what the Men of Ken have in store for us the rest of 2020, then I like Navy’s chances at making yet another run at the AAC title.
Go Navy! Beat Army! Air Force is irrelevant.