Mids 2-0 After Rocky Start To The Season

| September 18, 2017

Navy had a bye week this past weekend, so we’ve taken the time to address some of the key issues facing the team.

Let’s talk about the most important thing first. The Mids are 2-0 and in first place in the AAC West Division. The conference is playing well too. Heading into this weekend, the AAC ranked third among the 10 NCAA FBS conferences in non-conference winning percentage with a 15-5 record. Impressive conference play outside of the AAC is great news for the Mids who are currently undefeated in the AAC. The strength of the conference was on display when Memphis beat #25 UCLA on Saturday. Navy will have their shot against the Tigers on October 14th.

The offense for Navy has been a rollercoaster ride so far. In many ways, they have been successful behind JR QB Zach Abey. The Mids rank third in the conference in rushing offense with 305 YPG and Abey is an essential part of that success. His 171.5 YPG rushing is good for first in the conference, and his 292.5 total YPG makes him a top five offensive producer in the conference. Navy has 38 total first downs, and they rank second in the conference converting on 46.9% (15-32) of their third-down attempts. Last week, Abey led Navy with 108 yards rushing and was 4-12 passing for 132 yards and a TD. He has rushed and passed for 100 or more yards in each of his last three appearances dating back to last years Armed Forces Bowl.

However, turnovers are the Achilles heel in Abey’s game. Those troubles were on display against Tulane when Abey was picked off at the Tulane 2-yard line in the first quarter. He has thrown an interception in four of his five games as a starter, including both games this season. He also fumbled twice against Tulane. The first was at the Navy 49 yard line when Tulane’s Roderic Teamer returned it 52 yards for a Touchdown. The second came in the end zone, but lucky for Navy, RT Andrew Wood was there to recover the ball for the Navy score.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo was obviously frustrated with his QB on the field but acknowledges that there is still a learning curve for the Pasadena native. “He is still learning,” said Coach Niumatalolo “he has to take care of the rock. However, he is 2-0. He has to take care of the ball. We will help him with his decision-making, but he has to take care of the ball. He knows that.”

Navy’s defense is doing its part in helping with that learning curve. They are the second-ranked defensive unit in the AAC (294 YPG). Their front seven has been fantastic. They rank fourth in the conference in rushing defense (115.5 YPG) and have three sacks in two games. The unit has only allowed opposing offense to convert 28.6% (8-28) of third downs.

The Navy defense is led by senior captain D.J. Palmore who received honorable mention for AAC Defensive POTW for his performance against Tulane with a team-high ten tackles, 2.5 of them for a loss including a half sack. However, senior Micha Thomas is not leaving all the glory for his captain. He is averaging 6.5 tackles per game and has two passes deflected with an INT, and JR Sean Williams is leading the team with an impressive 7.5 tackles per game.

Navy looks to continue their winning ways against Cincinnati on Saturday at 3:30 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Make sure to keep up with all the action by following EyeOnAnnapolis on Facebook and Twitter: @EyeOnAnnapolis and @KChaneySports.

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About the Author - Kevin Chaney, Jr

Kevin Chaney was born and raised in Pasadena, MD. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 2007 and served on board the USS Nimitz until 2012. He is now attending the University of Maryland. Follow him on his blog at http://kchaneyreporting.wixsite.com/sports

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