It was a rare down season in 2020 for the Navy Midshipmen. The team from Annapolis finished 3-7 and it was just the program’s second losing season under head coach Ken Niumatalolo.
Niumatalolo enters his fourteenth year at the helm at the Academy and this looks to be a bounce-back campaign.
Navy, in particular, returns a strong defensive unit with 9 starters back from last season as well as its 9 leading tacklers from last year.
As usual, Navy is not physically dominant on defense but looks to have a steady, bend but don’t break unit. Leaders on the defensive side of the ball for Navy include tackling machine Diego Fagot, a 6’3, 240 pound senior middle linebacker who led the club with 72 stops last season.
Navy rarely generates serious pressure from its defensive front, making Fagot with 3 sacks the team’s top returning pass rusher.
Sophomore nose guard Donald Berniard has the making of a war daddy—he is an agile, gritty fighter in the trenches.
The secondary is led by senior free safety Kevin Brennan, who was the team’s number two tackler in 2020 and plays much larger than his 190 pound frame.
Offense is certainly more of a question mark for the Middies, as they had to replace three solid offensive lineman up front this season and enter the year with a lot of question marks at QB. Sophomore Xavier Arline, who started three games last year, looks to be the frontrunner for the QB position. He is an excellent runner and looks capable of commanding Navy’s always formidable option offense.
The big question is whether or not Navy will be able to find anything resembling a passing game, as the unit averaged less than 100 yards per game last year.