For the second game in a row, Navy is preparing for an opponent who has not yet played a game. The midshipmen have run out of ties to check out the latest version of Temple football on Saturday.
“Our boys are resilient,” said Niumatalolo. “There are things you don’t want to face, but it’s reality. It is what it is.”
The first five weeks of football were a bit brutal for the Mids. Navy lost their opener against BYU by 52 points after largely avoiding live blocking and tackling in the preseason. Starting quarterback Dalen Morris was benched during that opener and lost the job afterward, but backup Perry Olsen then decided to enter the transfer portal after he was not guaranteed the starting job.
Freshman Xavier Arline started against Tulane and the Mids fell back at halftime with 24-0. Morris led the comeback for a 27:24 win but was unable to play the next game against the Air Force in Colorado due to an unknown illness. This kept Tyger Goslin the center of attention as a starter, making Navy the only FBS program to start three different quarterbacks in the first three games of this season. Oh, and the Hawks still had to play so there wasn’t a scouting band and they missed 30-40 players and still won 40-7.
The biggest positive headline this week is the quarterback position, which appears to be settled for the foreseeable future with Morris as a starter.
“You can come out who knows what in defense, we just have to be ready to play,” said Morris. “With three quarterbacks in three games, there can definitely be problems in the background. I plan to be the starting quarterback for the rest of the year. I plan to be the guy and I have to assert myself in practice as the leader of this team. I plan to do that and add a little persistence to the position and the offense. “
The Temple game was originally scheduled for September 26th, but the Owls requested a postponement due to practice issues stemming from local government safety guidelines. Temple Coach Rod Carey stated that his team could only work in groups of 50 people, including all trainers, support staff and trainers. He did not feel physically safe to play football without proper preparation. Navy found itself in this situation against BYU and Carey used this as an example of what could happen.
Temple has been practicing one form or another since July, but was only released for full contact three weeks ago.
“It’s the longest fall camp in the world and they’re excited to say the least,” said Carey. “You have to practice football if you want to play football.”
The Owls have seven returning starters on the offensive, including quarterback Anthony Russo, Re’Mahn Davis and wide receivers Jadan Blue and Branden Mack. The offensive line will have new starters in the middle and on the right. Russo is in the top four in every major category in school history. The defense was hit hard with only three returning starters, but Carey said the unit was ahead of the offensive in practice. It’s not uncommon for a team that hasn’t played a game.
Regardless of the bodies available, Carey admitted there was some benefit built in this week.
“Obviously we had a lot of time to prepare, well into March,” said Carey. “… We now have more information on Navy, which is good for us when they play three games. Surely this information will be used well.
“From a prep standpoint, there’s no question that we have an advantage there because we saw three of their films and didn’t act, so they don’t have either of us. How does this turn into a competitive advantage? I do not know yet. “
There is both optimism and concern in Annapolis. There is hope that Morris has settled the offense and that the operation can find some consistency after scoring 10 points together against BYU and Air Force. Defensively, the 39.7 points allowed per game place 57th out of 74 teams in the nation.
Temple is known as a physical program and Navy didn’t do well against that style in the season opener against BYU. The midshipmen just had their first face-to-face meetings this week after having previously held them virtually. So there is hope that improves communication in the field.
“Our practice encouraged me, we still have to produce in the field,” said Niumatalolo. “It’s not the team we want to play after last week’s game, to be beaten like we did. … You are an impressive defense team. You can walk. Physically. It will be a difficult challenge.
“Everyone is crazy. Everyone is upset. Everyone is embarrassed. But you have to go on. There we are. “