Air Force’s good start is one reason the Falcons are a 10-point favorite to beat Navy this Saturday. Another reason is, Navy hasn’t been as good as advertised so far this season.
The Midshipmen were a media darling in the preseason. Sports Illustrated wrote about them and declared a perfect season possible. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs didn’t disagree.
“We want to have a perfect season,” Dobbs, a popular preseason Heisman darkhorse pick, told the magazine.
Then the Midshipmen started 0-1, with a loss to Maryland. Then Georgia Southern, a Football Championship Subdivision team, held Navy scoreless in the second half and the Midshipmen escaped with a 13-7 win. Navy had just 193 yards in that game.
Navy trailed 23-16 at halftime the next week against Louisiana Tech before rallying for a 37-23 win. So Navy didn’t fly out of the gates this season, but are hopeful to keep things moving in the right direction.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Navy safety Wyatt Middleton said. “Each we’re we’re trying to get better.”
Navy had a close loss to Maryland, barely missing a conversion on a fourth down and goal late in the game. Had the Midshipmen gotten the touchdown, their start would look at lot different.
“I don’t know if we’re playing great, but in my mind we’re about a foot from being 3-0,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
Niumatalolo said playing Georgia Southern just five days after the opener against Maryland led to Navy’s poor performance. In the Louisiana Tech game he saw some good signs. With a bye week before the Air Force game, there’s reason to believe the Midshipmen are back on track.
“The second half against Louisiana Tech was the closest we’ve come to playing well on both sides,” Niumatalolo said.