Navy Football: 4 areas Midshipmen must improve in 2018

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Man vs. zone and the defense

Lastly, Navy’s secondary will need to improve dramatically if they hope to continue the switch to man coverage. In the middle of last season, Coach Dan O’Brien, Navy’s secondary coach, suggested to Coach Niumatalolo, and Defensive Coordinator, Dale Pehrson, that his defensive backs were ready to play man coverage. This request caught Niumatalolo off guard, due to his long-term commitment and belief in zone coverage.

Despite much hesitation from Niumatalolo, he agreed to switch to a man coverage scheme. The defensive back were not ready for man coverage. Eventually, Navy balanced a defense of both man and zone coverage for the last four games of the season.

Navy’s opponents had a 61.2 percent completion percentage and gave up 8.4 yards per attempt. Both were among the worst in the nation. Navy’s secondary will need to practice much more man coverage during this coming summer to switch their defensive scheme full-time.

The Navy players are fully capable to succeed in their off-season challenges. However, with the military training and busy summer schedules, it will be up to the players to find time to prepare themselves to improve on last year’s record of a disappointing 7-6.

I believe Malcom Perry will develop a passing game sufficient enough to keep the opposing defense from stacking the box with eight men. Look for Coach Fitzpatrick will get the players in the best shape Navy has ever seen. I predict Bennett Moehring and the field goal group to have an 80 percent success rate.

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Expect Coach Niumatalolo to start the season in a man coverage, but that could change at halftime against Hawaii in their season opener. At the very least, Navy will be back in zone coverage by their fourth game against SMU.