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Navy continues to churn out wins, although last season none of those nine wins came against Air Force or Army. And to make matters worse, the Midshipmen lost their final three games of the season. This team came into the AAC and has been a player from the start, yet has never truly been considered an elite team on the national level, partly because of the triple-option.

But also because of the triple-option, Navy continues to churn out points and rushes for over 300 yards per game. That was the case last season and should be the case again with new quarterback Zach Abey getting plenty of hype even after some struggles last year in limited time. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo believes he has a chance to be really good, so that’s what this team will bank on because the offense only has four starters returning. Of course, that’s usually not a huge deal with the triple-option, even with only two starters on the line returning. Chris High (546 yards, 7 TDs) is a bruiser at full back and should get a heavy dosage, while the rest of the backfield will play itself out. Navy obviously isn’t a huge passing team, but someone has to take the spot of Jamir Tillman, as he was the only guy to catch more than 10 balls last season.

Defense was the main issue for Navy a year ago, allowing 31 points per game in a pass-heavy conference. They were lit up for 48 points in their bowl loss and 34 by Temple in the AAC title game. But with seven starters returning, this group should show some improvement with stud linebacker Micah Thomas leading the charge. He’s surrounded by experience at every level with Jarvis Polu on the line and a secondary that returns every starter. The goal will be to get more stops on third down after really struggling to do so last year.

We’ll get a good idea of the potential of Navy in September with a home game against Cincinnati. With a win there, the Midshipmen could be looking at 5-0 as long as they get past Air Force this time around. The problem will be trips to Memphis, Temple, Notre Dame and Houston standing in the way and what will likely stop Navy from reaching double-digit wins again. The Midshipmen can be good, but unless the defense turns elite over the offseason, this team could be looking at eight wins or less in 2017.


2017 Navy Midshipmen Football Schedule

Sept. 1 at Florida Atlantic
Sept. 9 vs. Tulane
Sept. 23 vs. Cincinnati
Sept. 30 at Tulsa

Oct. 7 vs. Air Force
Oct. 14 at Memphis
Oct. 21 vs. UCF

Nov. 2 at Temple
Nov. 11 vs. SMU
Nov. 18 at Notre Dame
Nov. 24 at Houston
Dec. 9 vs. Army (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia)

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