In 2016, we’ve penned in eight teams that will appear on our schedule more than one time. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages we’re hearing about as these teams prepare for their upcoming spring practice sessions. It’ll give us and idea of what the teams will be focusing on before we get to see them in the fall.
Navy (5 games possible) – The Mids lose the leadership of four-year starter Keenan Reynolds who will be an Intelligence Officer in the Navy after graduation. They’ll definitely miss his athleticism as well as his leadership skills, but we expect the Mids to build on what they’ve got returning. Of course, the key returnee is Head Coach Ken Niumatatolo who gladly decided to stay at USNA when Brigham Young came calling to find a new head coach. Coach Ken has found a home he likes and a program we think he’ll stick with for a long time. He knows the types of players he needs to make this system work, and he’s got the head and heart to make great teams out of the players he recruits to Annapolis. Most likely the QB position will be taken over by Senior Tago Smith who’s had some inspiring moments when he’s taken over for Keenan Reynolds for a few snaps this past season. Niumatatolo knows the triple option keeps the Mids full speed ahead after a short trial with a pro-type offense before he found Reynolds was ready to take over to re-establish the triple option threat during his plebe year. The Mids also have their biggest FB ever in 6-1 255-lb. Shawn White. FB is key to the option and Myles Swain, brother of last season’s starter Chris Swain, can be ready to give him a necessary spell once in a while. SBs like Toneo Gulley enter their senior seasons. Navy has a boatload of them returning. On D, LBs Dan Gonzalez and Ted Colburn return with a lot of experience. Back-up NG Patrick Forrestal, 6-4 305 lbs., could be the key replacement for Bernard Sarra to clog the middle. A lot depth returns in the secondary. Niumatatolo has a great core of talented returning experience to build around to get ready for the second season in the AAC West. Their big home game this season will be against ranked Houston on Oct.8 with QB Greg Ward, Jr. returning at QB. The Mids will have a fired up home crowd after last year’s loss, the Mids’ second of two last season, in Houston, 52-31. Keenan Reynolds, shoes No. 19 jersey was just retired at the annual navy football banquet, moves on like all Midshipman to serve our county, but I believe what he accomplished with his classmates at the Naval Academy these past four year has put this program on a path of improvement for years to come.
Other Navy games we plan to attend: vs. Fordham ,Sept. 3; vs. Uconn, Sept. 10; vs. Tulsa, Nov. 12; and vs. Army, Dec. 10.
Spring game: April 9
Next up: Army