The Navy football season has not been what Ken Niumatalolo hoped it would be. That point requires no explanation. Yet, as difficult as the year has been, we have seen Navy’s offense improve in recent weeks.
By Matt Zemek
Those improvements aren’t incredible or extraordinary, but given how poor this offense was in September, the progress has been noticeable, and it’s certainly something for this team to build on. Navy is a team with a limited ceiling, but it’s not entirely accurate to say that this team is completely stuck in its old patterns. Some patterns still exist with this team, but not all of them. Navy can actually score. It’s just that the consistency isn’t there (yet), and the team has not been able to replicate complete performances. The Tulsa game was fantastic, but the Midshipmen have not been able to come close to matching that standard of play. That’s where the focus must be heading into Saturday’s home game versus Temple.
1 – Two sides of the ball playing well at the same time
It has been very, very rare for Navy in 2022 to have both the offense and defense play well at the same time. It is obviously true that even for the best teams, both units won’t be great every week. It will often be the case that one side of the ball has to do a lot more of the heavy lifting than the other. However, Navy is at a point where the two sides of the ball hardly ever play great in the same portions of the same game. Complementary football has been largely elusive for this team. Temple is a weak opponent, which makes the Owls a prime candidate for a Navy breakout game. There is simply no good reason for the Midshipmen to not deliver a complete game on Saturday, with both sides of the ball equally thriving and bringing their best to the gridiron. This is something Navy needs before the home stretch and the run-up to the game which really matters against Army. Having more games in which both sides of the ball play well can develop this team’s confidence.
2 – First quarter
Navy just has to figure out the first quarter – not just for this game, not just for the remainder of the 2022 season, but in preparation for the 2023 season. First quarters have been terrible for Navy since the pandemic began. From the 2020 season through the present moment, Navy’s offenses have stumbled out of the gate in the vast majority of their games. Remember when Navy games used to have 10- or 14-point first quarters with great regularity? The Midshipmen need to recapture that knack for a fast start out of the blocks. It makes everything else easier for the whole team, including and especially the defense. This is a time to deliver a big first quarter and brighten the mood in the locker room … and set the stage for a 2023 season in which Navy’s early-game habits and results become a lot better.
3 – Clamping down
Temple has rarely scored more than 16 points this season – only twice overall, and only once against an FBS team: UMass. It’s clear that Temple doesn’t have a lot of talent on offense. This is a game Navy’s defense should plainly dominate.