Rant Sports College Football Top 100: No. 79 Navy Midshipmen

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

There have been few teams as solid and consistent in College Football as the Navy Midshipmen since the inception of the BCS. This is just one reason why Navy comes in at No. 79 in Rant Sports Top 100 Teams in 100 Days.

Coming off a solid 8-5 season in 2012, including a gallant effort against the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Midshipmen return six starters on offense and seven on defense looking to continue their dominance of the Service Academies. Since 2003, Navy is 18-2 against the Air Force Falcons and the Army Black Knights.

But their stellar play isn’t limited to those two teams and the Patriot League. Overall in the past 10 years, Navy is 83-45 including 19 wins against BCS Conference Schools which is tops in the nation by a wide margin. This is one reason why Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo is on a lot of schools short list to be their next legendary coach.

Top Players

It is safe to say that the weight of 2013 falls squarely on the shoulders of Sophomore Quarterback Keenan Reynolds who was the first freshman signal caller to start last season since 1991 and only the third in the entire history of Navy Football. He started the final eight games of 2012 totaling 898 yards in the air and nine scores and 649 yards on the ground with 10 touchdowns.

Defensively, all things, good or bad, are going to center around Senior ILB Cody Peterson. Peterson is the top return player on defense who recorded 67 total tackles in 2012. The Midshipmen will look to his leadership and experience to continue their disciplined 3-4 base defense.

Offense

Besides Reynolds at QB, there are tons of questions that need to be answered in the spread offense. All the bullets that finished sixth in the nation in rushing last season are gone. The top returning player is Senior Slot Back Darius Staten who played in eight games, saw 21 plays and finish with only 184 total yards.

In addition, Slot Backs Geoffery Whiteside and Noah Copeland will play key roles in getting the running machine that is Navy moving. It’s going to be a team effort for sure on the ground, but Navy has proven for 10 years its system is one where you plug and play kids who find a way to put up the same numbers or better from the previous year.

Defense

This is another area where the Midshipmen will be searching for answers through the first few games of 2013. Navy officially lists 21 regulars are returning on defense including seven starters, but the only one by far with any legitimate stats is Peterson. And that could be a major issue if things are not settled by the fourth game.

One man who can be a huge impact is sophomore Nose Guard Bernard Sarra. At 6-foot-1, 303 pounds, he could be the anchor up front that could make this one of the best defenses Navy has had since the Paul Johnson era or just another mid-major defense.

Schedule

This will be the final season for Navy in the Patriot League before it begins play in the new American Athletic \Conference, which is the rebirth of the Big East.

Navy should handle its conference opponents with ease including the Service Academy rivalry games. But the true test will be its road games that include Notre Dame, Indiana Hoosiers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Duke Blue Devils, Toledo Rockets and the San Jose State Spartans. That’s a pretty daunting task to pull off even two wins.

Add the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors at home and it is going to be one heck of a battle for Navy to continue its winning ways in 2013.

But the Midshipmen have proved its doubters wrong for 10 years. So buckle up and get ready for another fun ride in Annapolis.

2013 Navy Midshipment Schedule
September 7 – at Indiana Hoosiers
September 14 – Deleware Blue Hens
September 28 – at Western Kentucky Hilltopers
October 5 – Air Force Falcons
October 12 – at Duke Blue Devils
October 19 – at Toledo Rockets
October 26 – Pittsburgh Panthers (Homecoming)
November 2 – at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
November 9 – Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors
November 16 – South Alabama Jaguars
November 23 – at San Jose State Spartans
December 14 – vs. Army Black Knights

M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Follow him @woodysmalls.

 

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