Media Day is in the books, and practice is underway. I was waiting to see if the SID staff was going to put out a media day transcript, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to. No biggie, as our own Adam Nettina gave a great recap of all the big points covered at the press conference writing for College Football News. Some good stuff was batted around about the defense, the race for #2 fullback, and what Coach Niumatalolo is like in practice compared to Paul Johnson. Worth the All-Access subscription, as are the player interviews with Pete Medhurst (Shun White in particular).
As I watched the press conference, one thing that I noticed was how much more comfortable Ken Niumatalolo looked in front of the media compared to just a few months ago. Since taking charge last December, Coach Niumat always looked a bit uneasy when answering questions or talking in front of the microphone. I’m sure a lot of that was because the events leading to his promotion all happened so quickly, but regardless, things have changed. Last week, coach was smiling, cracked a few jokes, and gave very frank, straightforward answers. He looked like a man in charge. Maybe this is just me reading way too much into minutiae the way I always do, but it was very noticeable.
Anyway, with practice having started, that means the return of the practice pressers! Presser #1 came on Friday, with Wagner firing off a few questions for the Navy head coach:
Wagner: What are some of the question marks you have in your mind? You talked yesterday about the backup fullback; I know that is one of them. Who is in the mix to back up Kettani?
Niumatalolo: Kevin Campbell, Vince Murray, Wes Holland and a freshman from the prep school, Alex Teich. Those are the guys we are looking at.
Wagner: Teich was listed as a slot back, was that a mistake?
Niumatalolo: No, he was a slot back but we just moved him. He is a pretty physical kid and we liked the way he tested. We want to see what he can do.
Wagner: I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I don’t believe any of those guys you mentioned carried the ball at all last year.
Niumatalolo: Backup fullback was a big question in the spring, but we were very pleased with the way Campbell and Murray played. It is still an open battle and those guys know that the number two spot is still up for grabs. We moved Holland and Teich from slot to fullback to up the competition.
The #2 mythical creature in the Navy offense (#1 being the super-athletic quarterback with the howitzer arm) is the second coming of Adrian Peterson; the fullback that’s not a fullback as much as a traditional tailback. The guy that’s as big a threat on the outside as between the tackles. Navy’s fullback have been more of the bruiser, up the middle variety. Now, I’m not even pretending that Holland and Teich are Adrian Peterson. But maybe bringing switching a couple slots to fullback is an attempt to see if we can get that different element out of the position. Coach Johnson tried it a little when he moved Trey Hines to fullback, but Hines never really had an opportunity to learn the position. Holland and Teich will. I fully expect Campbell and Murray to be on the 3-deep this year, but this will be something to watch as time goes on.
Wagner: What other questions do you have on offense? How about the offensive line?
Niumatalolo: We are looking for a third guard and a third tackle. We are also trying to find a backup center.
Wagner: Lark hasn’t proven himself, has he?
Niumatalolo: I’m starting to like what I see. He’s a pup at center right now so he is running around like a chicken with his head cut off, but he plays with great intensity and he is very strong. I like what I see out of him.
If all we’re looking for is a 3rd guard and 3rd tackle, then we must be doing OK. It’s good that Lark is making some progress at center.
Wagner: On defense, Nate Frazier looks great out here. I heard he made all of the workouts this summer.
Niumatalolo: Defensively, we are looking for some young guys that can step up. We have a ton of guys back from last year that we are excited about. We have an experienced group coming back. We have a pretty good idea who we have on defense, but we want to see if any of the young guys can step into the mix.
I don’t know about you, but I got my fill of young guys stepping into the mix last year. I’m ready for some old, grizzled veterans on defense.
Lots more covered in that transcript, so read up!