It’s a new era for Navy football. After 15 seasons, Ken Niumatalolo was replaced as head coach.
Niumatalolo did a good job with a 109-83 record (.568) but the Midshipmen ended his tenure with three straight losing seasons, concluding with last year’s 4-8 mark and 4-4 record in the American Athletic Conference, which was tied for sixth. Brian Newberry, the defensive coordinator the past four years at Navy, now takes over for Niumatalolo.
Navy has struggled offensively the last few years, so new offensive coordinator Grant Chesnut will attempt to reverse that trend. Navy was tied for last in the AAC with Temple in scoring offense.
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Navy Football’s AAC Title Odds
Navy has the seventh-best odds to win the AAC at +3000, via BetMGM.
Navy Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Navy’s win total Over/Under is 6.5, with Under 6.5 at -130 and Over 6.5 +110.
Navy Football’s Schedule
8/26 vs Notre Dame
9/9 vs Wagner
9/14 at Memphis
9/30 vs USF
10/7 vs North Texas
10/14 at Charlotte
10/21 vs Air Force
11/4 at Temple
11/11 vs UAB
11/18 vs East Carolina
11/25 at SMU
12/9 vs Army
Bold indicates AAC contests.
Key Navy Football Returners
2022 All-AAC Honorable Mention
DL Jacob Busic
Daba Fofana A Top Returner For Navy’s Offense
Sophomore quarterback Tedros Gleaton took advantage of being available during the spring. He was listed by Navy as the starter heading into fall camp. Gleaton didn’t see any action last year.
Senior Tai Lavantai was the busiest passer, completing 42 of 91 passes for 787 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions. Lavantai was recovering from knee surgery in the spring.
Fellow senior Xavier Arline (4 of 11 passing, 85 yards, two TDs, one interception, 376 yards and three touchdowns rushing) wasn’t a full participant in spring because he was playing lacrosse.
Whoever is at QB will have the benefit of handing off to junior fullback Daba Fofana, who rushed for 819 yards and six touchdowns. One of his vintage performances last year came when Fofana rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in a 35-32 loss to Notre Dame.
Senior Jayden Umbarger led the run-dominant team in receiving with 16 receptions for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
The Midshipmen have an experienced returning offensive line. Junior tackle Connor McMahon made 10 starts last season, while senior tackle Sam Glover made 11 starts last season. Center Lirion Murtezi started six of 12 games that he played and has been named a team captain. Senior guard Josha Pena has made 20 career starts, including 11 last season.
Navy’s Defense Should Remain Strong With Jacob Busic Returning
Navy was fourth in the AAC in defensive scoring, allowing 24.3 points per game. The Midshipmen should again be strong on defense.
There are nine returning starters, but replacing John Marshall will be important. Marshall led the Midshipmen in tackles (96), tackles for loss (19.5), and sacks (11).
Senior defensive end Jacob Busic has started every game over the past two years, 24 in total. He was second on the team with six sacks and tied for second with 8.5 tackles for loss and figures to be one of the key defensive leaders.
Junior free safety Rayuan Lane III is a true playmaker. He had 71 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Senior safety Eavan Gibbons has started 19 games, including 12 last season. He had 54 tackles and five tackles for loss.
Junior linebacker Colin Ramos was second on the team with 79 tackles and tied for second with 8.5 TFLs while also adding four sacks.
Senior linebacker Will Harbour started seven of 11 games and recorded 30 tackles. He has been named a team captain.
Navy Football Season Prediction
The Midshipmen won’t contend in the AAC but should be improved. Earning seven wins is a realistic goal, but anything above that could be difficult. The defense should be solid, but the success of the season depends on the offense.
Chesnut has added some wrinkles to the triple option attack. While Navy may open things up offensively, this should still be among the top running teams in the nation, led by Fofana.
The Midshipmen were fourth nationally last season in rushing, averaging 241.2 yards per game. And while this is a team built to run the ball, improvement in the passing game will still be needed.
A key part of the schedule is the final third, when Navy hosts UAB and East Carolina, visits AAC contender SMU, and then plays its annual game with Army, this year at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots.
The development of whomever plays at quarterback will go a long way toward determining if the Midshipmen can help Newberry have a successful debut season as head coach.