College Football Preview: The 2014 Navy Midshipmen
Navy looks for another big season from their option attack.
2014 College Football Preview
The Navy Midshipmen look to carry over the momentum of last season's strong finish in to 2014.
Overview: One thing remains a constant for Navy football; they run their option and do it well. Ken Niumatalolo has a solid nucleus of players coming back and the bar is set high even for a service academy as the Middies have their sights set on another postseason appearance.
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Offense: The option begins with the quarterback and Keenan Reynolds keeps the Middies offense running like a well oiled machine. Reynolds was adequate in the air, completing 68-128 for 1,057 yards (53%) which is decent considering what this team did on the ground. Reynolds was the leading rusher (283-1466) with 31 touchdowns while six others touched the ball at least 40 times for no less then 340 yards so there are options (no pun intended) galore with five of the top six back. DeBrandon Sanders (13-223) is the top receiver but we are talking about an offense that threw around eleven times per game. RG Jake Zuzek leads an O-Line that loses one starter but returns seven with starting experience.
Defense: The defensive line didn't excel at much but in Navy's scheme it's all about being in position and making the sure tackle and above all; avoid giving up the big play. This unit loses two of their top six but we are talking about a combined two sacks and five TFL. The linebackers were the meat and potatos of the defense and this unit took hits with the departures of Cody Peterson (118 T) and DJ Sargenti (90.5 T). Seven return with experience but replacing these two isn't going to be easy. Seven of the top ten in the secondary also return so there is no shortage of experience.
Special Teams: Pablo Beltran averaged 41 yard on 40 punts while Nick Sloan connected on 11-14 FG. The return game needs replenishing with Marcus Thomas and Shawn Lynch gone.
Outlook: The offense looks great once again but the defense lost some key contributors even though there is plenty of experience. If these voids can be filled the Midshipmen have another solid team and should match or exceed their nine wins of a season ago.