The Navy football team opened its season with a 55-3 loss to BYU Sept. 7 after an 11-2 campaign in 2019. Here are five takeaways from the loss:
1. There could be a new starting quarterback battle.
Senior Dalen Morris won the starting job at quarterback with an impressive performance in preseason camp. However, he struggled to effectively execute the triple-option and was pulled at halftime. Morris finished the game with 2 yards rushing on seven carries. He also completed two of four passes for 15 yards.
Sophomore Perry Olsen, who entered camp No. 1 on the depth chart, replaced Morris and did not have much success, either. He had 25 yards rushing on 10 carries with a fumble. Perry was also sacked three times and completed just two of four passes for 14 yards.
The offensive line struggled against BYU’s front seven. Navy’s 149 yards of total offense (119 rushing, 30 passing) was the second-fewest yards in the Ken Niumatalolo era. The previous low was 144 yards against San Jose State on Sept. 29, 2012. Meanwhile, the Cougars racked up 580 yards of total offense.
2. Tackling was a huge challenge.
Niumatalolo opted not to have Navy tackle during the preseason amid ongoing concerns with the COVD-19 pandemic. That was a costly decision because his players struggled to match the physicality of BYU. Navy defenders could not tackle effectively and struggled to get off blocks. The Cougars appeared much more prepared for the game. BYU running back Tyler Allgeier finished with 132 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns.
“I erred on the side of trying to keep our guys safe and clearly that was a bad decision,” Niumatalolo said.
3. BYU grounded Navy’s running attack.
The Midshipmen typically rack up hundreds of rushing yards against opponents. Last season, Navy averaged 360.5 yards rushing per game, which ranked first nationally. This was not the case against BYU, which was able to stack the line because the Midshipmen struggle to beat teams through the air. Navy managed just 119 yards on 39 carries (3.1 yards per carry). Senior slotback Myles Fells led Navy in rushing with 55 yards on three carries, including a long of 33 yards.
4. Diego Fagot was a bright spot.
Navy inside linebacker Diego Fagot had another solid game and led the team with a career-high 13 tackles, including two for a loss. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Fagot has emerged as the latest legitimate NFL prospect for the Mids. He has already been named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given to the national defensive player of the year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Fagot is also one of six players from the American Athletic Conference on the watch list.
5. Time to regroup.
The Midshipmen play their American Athletic Conference opener at Tulane Sept. 19. This will give Niumatalolo some time to fix some shortcomings with tackling, blocking and effectively executing the triple option. He’ll also have to decide whether to start Morris or Olsen at quarterback. Expect to see a more productive, technically sound Navy team against the Green Wave, which open the season against South Alabama Sept. 12.
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