2013 Navy Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Navy Midshipmen Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: You know exactly what the offense is going to do, but now it's going to do it more physically. The coaching staff demanded a tougher, rougher offense last year, and it showed with a strong ground game – as always – that might not have ripped off No. 1-in-the-nation yards, but was effective. With Keenan Reynolds now established as the star at quarterback, there's a dangerous option under center for defenses to worry about and a good fullback in Noah Copeland to give the ball to inside. The receivers are in place to do what Navy receivers do, and the starting five up front will be solid, so now the execution and consistency have to be there. The offense fizzled a bit too often in key spots, but it should be steadier now that Reynolds knows what he's doing.
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Keenan Reynolds
Passing: Keenan Reynolds
61-108, 898 yds, 9 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Noah Copeland
162 carries, 738 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Shawn Lynch
14 catches, 281 yds, 1 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior RB Geoffrey Whiteside
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG E.K. Binns
Best pro prospect: Junior FB Noah Copeland
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reynolds, 2) Copeland, 3) Whiteside
Strength of the offense: Running, Reynolds
Weakness of the offense: Veteran Slotbacks, Backup Linemen
The Midshipmen have their guy. It took a little while but sophomore Keenan Reynolds took over six games into his true freshman season and showed what all the fuss was about, running for 649 yards and ten touchdowns with three scores and 130 yards against Troy and 159 yards and a touchdown against Florida Atlantic, while doing a nice job with the passing game completing 57% of his passes for 898 yards and nine touchdowns with two picks. While he's never going to bomb away 30 times a game, he has a good enough deep arm to do what Navy needs him to do, and he has the prerequisite quickness and speed in a 5-11, 185-pound frame. He's a pure option quarterback who should put up astronomical numbers by the time he's done.
With Trey Miller moving over to running back, 6-1, 198-pound junior John Hendrick will be the main backup. Bigger than Reynolds with excellent speed, he has the smarts to handle the attack and make the right reads despite the lack of playing time so far, and he has the toughness to be able to take the pounding. 5-10, 201-pound junior Kody Akers could be used as a defensive back or a running back, but for now he's the No. 3 option.
Watch Out For … Hendrick. Reynolds is the man for the next three years, but with the way Navy quarterbacks take shots, Hendrick has to show he's ready to handle the backup job. Miller is always there to step in if needed, but he's a running back now. Hendrick has to show he can handle the work.
Strength: Reynolds. While it's asking a lot to be another Ricky Dobbs, he has the quickness, the running skills and ability to be the same sort of producer. He's a special talent who should be the star of the show for the next three years.
Weakness: Backup experience. Again, Miller is always there in a pinch, but the idea is to go with Reynolds or Akers if disaster strikes, and they both need playing time.
Outlook: Forget about the bowl disaster and the shaky end to the season; the Navy quarterback situation is set as long as Reynolds is rolling. The backup situation might be a question mark, but Reynolds was fantastic with little experience, and now he knows what he's doing. The passing game will still be efficient for what the offense does, but it's all about running the ball and Reynolds can do it.
Unit Rating: 6.5
Top running back Gee Gee Greene is gone, but fullback Noah Copeland returns to pound away in the interior after finishing second on the team with 738 yards and five touchdowns with 12 catches for 91 yards. While he's not a blaster, the 5-10, 214-pounder is physical up the middle and is terrific at establishing the inside to allow the quicker backs work on the outside. He cranked up 110 yards against Texas State and 99 against Army, but he only averaged 4.6 yards per carry and didn't come up with any big dashes. He'll work with 5-11, 232-pound sophomore Chris Swan, who brings more bulk and a bigger pop to the equation, running for 154 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries in his four games of work.
Junior Geoffrey Whiteside saw a little bit of work last season rushing for 111 yards averaging 6.9 yards per carry doing most of his work in garbage time. Very fast and very athletic, the 5-10, 171-pounder fits the Navy mold with terrific quickness. 5-9, 191-pound sophomore Demond Brown is one of the team's faster slotback options, and now he'll get a shot to show what he can do after spending most of his time on special teams. Former quarterback Trey Miller is moving to slotback after running for 293 yards and three touchdowns and throwing for 399 yards and two scores before giving way to Keenan Reynolds. The former star high school point guard - leading his team to the Georgia state title – can cut on a dime and has the toughness to take the punishment needed for the position.
Senior Darius Staten is only 5-6 and 190 pounds, but he provides a huge pop and isn't shy about contact, averaging 8.8 yards per try rushing for 184 yards on his 21 carries. Now he gets a starting gig in the slotback role, while 5-8, 170-pound junior Ryan Williams-Jenkins will get more work after running just three times for 42 yards with a score against East Carolina.
Watch Out For … Whiteside. Greene was the main slotback last season as the top runner among the top four producers, and now it's up to Whiteside to try adding the speed to the ground game. He didn't bust out any home runs, but he'll get far more chances this year and should average well over six yards per carry.
Strength: Fullback. The offense always produces big yards from the running backs no matter what, but it's Copeland and Swain who'll do the dirty work to force the linebackers to suck up inside so the slotbacks and quarterbacks can get their five yards per crack.
Weakness: Slotback experience. It shouldn't matter because of the offensive style, but he slotbacks haven't seen enough time with most of the key ones from last year gone. Whiteside and Staten should be fine.
Outlook: You know exactly what's going to happen. Navy will throw out several quick runners for the outside, bashing fullbacks for the inside, and close to 300 rushing yards per game no matter what. The rating is based on expected production more than talent.
Unit Rating: 8
As always, the Navy receivers have two jobs: block, and come up with the big play now and then when the defenses are focusing on the ground game. Brandon Turner is gone after leading the team with 22 catches, but senior Shawn Lynch is back after finishing third on the team with 14 catches for 281 yards and a score, with six of the catches coming in the first two games and with just one catch in the final three games. At 5-10 and 190 pounds he's not huge, but he's quick.
6-2, 210-pound senior Casey Bolena has good size and excellent speed catching 13 passes for 141 yards and a score. However, he dropped off the map over the second half of the season with eight of his grabs coming in the first two games. He'll rotate with Matt Aiken a 6-0, 195-pound senior who's a big blocker with the physical ability to have been tried out at safety early in his career. He's not the home run hitter that Lynch is, but he got in the end zone twice with seven grabs for 61 yards.
Watch Out For … Lynch to grow into a No. 1 target. He has just enough deep speed to come up with several big plays and be exactly what the offense needs. He averaged over 20 yards per catch on his 14 grabs, and if he can come up with one long catch a game, he'll be doing his job.
Strength: The big play. Navy receivers are good at getting deep and taking advantage of sleepy single coverage. On just 99 catches, the Midshipmen came up with 11 touchdowns averaging 13.8 yards per catch.
Weakness: Workload. The Midshipmen only threw the ball 172 times last year and there won't ever be much more work coming. The passing game will be effective at times, and occasionally efficient, but Navy receivers have to be happy getting the ball just twice a game on a good day.
Outlook: It might hurt to lose Turner and running back/slotback Gee Gee Greene, but Lynch, Bolena and Aiken will get the job done. They're not going to come up with big pass catching numbers, but they'll average huge yards per grab.
Unit Rating: 4
There isn't as much work needing to be done as last year with three full-time starters returning and good experience for the other two spots. It'll all start at center with 6-2, 276-pound junior Tanner Fleming, who started each of the last ten games and got the call against Penn State early on. A weightlifting maven, he's extremely strong and brings the power to the mix.
The right side is set once everyone is healthy. 6-0, 310-pound junior Jake Zuzek is a bowling ball who took over at right guard, starting every game and doing a nice job of growing into the role. Tough and dependable for the interior ground game, he was out this offseason letting his shoulder heal, but will be fine for the start of the year, as will 6-1, 254-pound senior Graham Vickers, a veteran left tackle who worked last season on the right side and will get the call again once he's 100%. While he's not built to be a tackle and started out his career at guard, he's great for this offense and does a nice job on the move once he's back from his shoulder surgery.
The left side needs a little work, but 6-3, 288-pound junior Bradyn Heap should know what he's doing after starting a few times on the right side. With excellent size and the skill to play anywhere on the line, including center, he'll get the call at left tackle where he should make the job his over the next few seasons. 6-3, 287-pound sophomore E.K. Binns is a Florida native with good strength and quickness to handle the work at left guard. Very smart and very talented, he can see time on either side. He'll combine with 6-3, 295-pound senior Thomas Stone, who's coming back after having shoulder problems. He got the start early on at center against VMI, but is better suited for guard.
Watch Out For … guard Ben Tamburello, a 6-2, 275-pound sophomore with SEC bloodlines, he's a smart, quick blocker who'll start out at right guard but could move around where needed. He'll be a starter sooner than later.
Strength: Quickness and size. There aren't any behemoths, but it's a decent-sized line with everyone able to move around well for the offense. It's a good group that has the right look and right size for what the attack needs.
Weakness: Developed depth. This is always an issue for the Midshipmen, and it only matters if there's shuffling going on late in the summer. The starting five should be relatively set without a problem, but there isn't much wiggle room if injuries strike.
Outlook: The call went out last season to be far more physical, and it showed. This season, there's size and experience to blast away when needed and get out on the move when the line has to. Unlike last year, there are more sure things in place with a nice starting five that should be a plus for what the offense needs to do.
Unit Rating: 6
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