Take a look at the scoreboard from week one around college football. You’ll find plenty of close calls and near upsets (Eastern Washington’s 30-27 loss to Washington comes to mind) and you’ll also find plenty of games with misleading final scores. You’ll see blowouts and nail biters, traditional powerhouses running roughshod and FCS punching bags getting, well, punched. Somewhere in there, you’ll see Navy’s 40-17 win over Delaware.
It wasn’t the first time Navy beat an FCS team, and it was far from the most impressive from a production standpoint (anyone remember Shun White?). But with so many questions entering the year, and so many defensive players breaking into the fold for the first time, Navy’s win over the 5th-ranked Blue Hens is something to feel good about after an offseason of turbulence.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to play cheerleader, and I’m not here to start making predictions or begin starting chants to see the proverbial “gravy” everyone always talks about. But at the same time I’m not coach Niumatalolo, and I’m not going to nitpick when Navy’s win was in fact a very solid performance for week one, especially given what some other college teams were dealing with against lesser foes this past weekend. As Bruce Feldman reminded everyone during the halftime break, KC Keeler’s Blue Hens aren’t exactly the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Delaware’s number five ranking was well deserved. Considering Oregon State – a BCS team – fell to 24th-ranked Sacramento State, and that Duke – another BCS team – lost to 16th-ranked Richmond, Navy’s win looks like the kind the kind of business-as-usual game you’d expect a perennial bowl team to have over an FCS team.
And you know what, it was. The final stats– including Navy’s 437 yards to Delaware’s 363 – may not seem blowout-worthy, but the Mids did almost everything right. From Kriss Proctor’s running of the option, to the defense stepping up in key moments and holding the Hens off the board, Navy kept the perennial FCS title contender at arm’s length for the entire game. Once more, Navy did it virtually mistake-free. I mean, how many week-one games do you see without a team committing a penalty or just turning the ball over a scant one time? How about having a kicker nail a 54-yard field goal, or a special teams unit – with a number of freshmen, mind you – giving up no big returns? Now that‘s something last year’s team didn’t manage to do in the opener, nor was it something Navy managed to do in its rout of Towson in the 2008 opener.
There’s a lot of season left to play, and a lot of games on the schedule that are going to challenge this team more than Delaware. For all we know, the Blue Hens might end up being the FCS’s biggest disappointment. But something tells me they won’t be, and something tells me that Navy’s business-as-usual win could be a welcome prelude to a season filled with many more.
8 thoughts on “Business As Usual”
Nice post, Adam. Thanks for giving me my second Birddog fix of the day.
Obviously, week 1 doesn’t tell us a whole heck of a lot. Delaware may turn out to be great or terrible, so we don’t really know how good Navy is. But zero penalties has a lot more to do with how disciplined we are than how good or bad the opponent was. That may be the most encouraging stat of the whole game.
Agree with your synopsis of Delaware game. The Birddog rules. Thanks.
Hard to find fault in any portion of Navy play. Tough and smart play on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Special teams indeed special.
Read several Hilltopper postings, common theme is WKU QB threw and ran for big yards in last meeting. Home game for WKU…might fire up the Hilltopper squad.
Towson was a “bottom-of-the-barrel” FCS team back then, so comparing Navy performance against them to going up against teams like Delaware and Georgia Southern somewhat misleading. A good high schol team probably could have put up a better effort against ther Navy TO than Towson that afternoon.
Go Navy … Beat WKU!!!
The secret ingredient is recruiting ever better student-athlete players…the number of underclassmen stepping into starting roles over Firsties who have started and on the special teams proves Coach Ken and his staff are bringing in the players who can succeed at and fro Navy.
There seems to be a “cautious optimism” type attitude among Navy fans this year. I like it a lot better than the roller coaster ride we took in pre-season and the first half of last year. Your “Business As Usual” is right on the money.
As ever, we will not know what Navy is made of this season until after AF, but this positive first step certainly tastes better than last season’s opener.
Nice highlight reel
Yes – cautious optimism.