Navy improved to 5-1 with a 35-3 victory against South Florida Oct. 19. It marked the first time since Dec. 30, 2013 that the Midshipmen did not surrender a touchdown. Navy has already surpassed its win total (three) from last season and is surging toward bowl eligibility.
"I've been in this stadium for 22 years, man, and that was as dominant of a defense performance against a really good team that I've seen in a really long time," Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "The kids are playing really, really hard on defense. I am pleased with what they did."
Here are five takeaways from this season so far:
1. The Mids are thriving under Brian Newberry.
defensive coordinator Brian Newberry
has been a revelation. He could be a candidate for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach. He has orchestrated a massive turnaround. The Navy defense has allowed the second-fewest first downs in the country, giving up just 80 in its six games. The Midshipmen are also ranked 13th nationally in total defense after finishing 86th last year. Newberry was one of seven coaches brought in by Niumatalolo during the offseason; Newberry replaced the retiring Dale Pehrson.
2. Perry leading triple-option attack
Quarterback Malcolm Perry has been the main spark for the offense. The senior had 188 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns against South Florida. He became just the fourth player in school history to surpass 3,000 yards rushing. Perry has now rushed for more than 100 yards 14 times in his career, which is the fourth most in school history. His 33 career rushing touchdowns are tied for the sixth most in school history. Perry is averaging 14.0 points per game, which is second in the country behind Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (16.3).
3. Jacob Springer is dominating at striker.
Jacob Springer has thrived in his role as the striker on defense (an outsider linebacker who is effective in pass coverage). He finished with a career-best three sacks against South Florida and was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week. It's the most sacks by a Navy player in a single game since Will Anthony had three against Tulsa Nov. 21, 2015. Springer has now recorded at least one sack in each of the last three games and now leads the team with five.
4. Jamale Carothers is an emerging star.
Sophomore fullback Jamale Carothers had a breakout game against South Florida, finishing with a career-high 84 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Carothers came into the game with 52 career yards, all against Tulsa Oct. 12 in what was his first career appearance. His 58-yard touchdown scamper against South Florida was the longest run of his career.
5. Tough tests are ahead for the Mids.
Navy plays a second straight home game Oct. 26 against Tulane. Both the Midshipmen and Green Wave (5-2) received votes in this week's Top 25 poll. A win by Navy would make the program bowl eligible for the 15th time in the last 17 years. Navy (2-1) is currently in second place behind SMU (3-0) in the AAC West Division, while Tulane (2-1) is tied for third with Memphis. The Midshipmen also have tough upcoming games against No. 8 Notre Dame (Nov. 16), No. 16 SMU (Nov. 23) and rival Army (Dec. 14).
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