Head coach: Ken Niumatalolo
2014 Record: 8-5 overall
2014 Bowl: 17-16 W over San Diego St. at Poinsettia Bowl
2015 Returning Starters: 4 offense, 6 defense
Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +800000
Odds to win 2015 AAC Title: +1100
Regular Season Wins: Over 7 (-140), Under 7 (+120)
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The amazing do-it-all Keenan Reynolds is back at QB for Navy, and that’s really all you need to know.
While the Navy Midshipmen are a formidable club, the header for this piece could not be more true: Keenan Reynolds carries this team. The QB is now entering his senior season and he already owns a lot of school records including the all-time rushing TD record for an NCAA QB: 64. He’s part of a triple-option offense the Navy runs, and he’s 21-11 in his career.
Reynolds has some weapons to help him wreak his havoc. Senior FB Chris Swain and slot back DeBrandon Sanders are both potent offensive threats, while Jamir Tillman is a good playmaker, as well. Swain rushed for 693 yards last season and Sanders was good for eight yards per carry. Tillman is a big 6’4” 206 pound WR that is good for big plays and fills out the offensive options nicely for Navy.
However, the OL lost three starters, which hurts. LG E.K. Binns will be relied on to lead the unit, and he’s a three-year starter, but outside of him the Midshipmen are going to be inexperienced.
The defensive side is going to experience a much bigger turnover, still. It lost four major starters that are going to be difficult to supplant, and its strength will be at nose guard with Bernie Sarra being a strong player whose done very well recently for Navy. RE Will Anthony had 11 tackles for loss last season and he’ll be key as well. The 3-4 scheme Navy uses is heavily reliant on LB making plays.
Daniel Gonzales had 86 tackles last year, to exemplify this point. He also was good for three INTs. Three of the four LBs are first-time starters this season, though. William Tuider has spent enough time as a backup to bring some pretty quality experience, however.
In the secondary the Midshipmen do have an experienced CB in Brendon Clements. Clements started 20 straight games and is a natural at making defensive plays. He has 107 career tackles and eight pass breakups. Quincy Adams started all 13 games and was honorable mention All_Independence last year as Navy’s third-leading tackler. SS Kwazel Bertrand also brings experience as a player who’s started 16 contests thus far in his NCAA career.
Navy has to replace a four-year starter at K who averaged 41.8 yards per attempt. Senior Gavin Jernigan will likely fill the role, but Navy can’t count on the same brilliance it got from Pablo Bertran. Austin Grebe hit 6 of 6 FG and 33 of 33 extra points after taking over in the seventh game of last season, so he offers great accuracy too as far as can be told. Desmond Brown and DeBrandon Sanders will handle kick and punt returns.
Navy finally joins a conference and its a good fit for the AAC. The Midshipmen are 34-27-1 against AAC teams and will be a formidable club, particularly in the weaker of the two AAC divisions. It’s faced SMU, East Carolina and Tulane the most, but should be good against the better teams in this conference, as well.
Even so, the +1100 odds to take the AAC crown are a fair figure to bestow on Navy, while seven wins remains a very probable win total. However, here at Maddux we’re going to expect one win more from Navy. It closes its season at Army and faces Colgate in Week 1, so those two games are a good way to boost an extra two wins from an otherwise challenging schedule. It will face long-time foe Notre Dame on Oct 10, but its AAC schedule leaves out Cincinnati, UCF and Temple.
Prediction: 8 wins