Navy Midshipmen

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QB Khalil Tate seems quite displeased with reports connecting Ken Niumatalolo to Arizona job

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This could potentially end up going sideways for the Arizona football program.

Friday, reports surfaced that Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo was a “strong candidate” to take over as the head coach at Arizona.  While the potential move was widely applauded in most corners, one individual in particular appeared to be decidedly displeased with the possibility of the coach bringing his option offense out west.

On his personal Twitter account in a tweet that has since been deleted – we’ve saved it for posterity’s sake — star quarterback Khalil Tate wrote that “he didn’t come to Arizona to run the tripple (sic) option.”

Tate also used a hashtag to reinforce who he feels should be the permanent replacement for Rich Rodriguez: interim head coach and defensive coordinator Marcel Yates.

Tate is one of the most dynamic playmakers at the quarterback position — hell, at any position — in college football and is a huge key if the Wildcats and whatever coach they ultimately settle on are to make noise in the Pac-12.  He’ll likely enter the 2018 season as one of a handful of legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders.

Whether the football program can keep him from transferring elsewhere remains to be seen.  There had been speculation shortly after Rodriguez was fired that Tate was seriously considering a transfer; the player’s mother came out and stated that he wouldn’t be leaving the school.

Again on his Twitter account, he set the record straight that those words weren’t his.

If Niumatalolo is indeed hired, it appears he’ll have some work to do in order to keep the dynamic Tate on the roster.

Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo reportedly ‘strong candidate’ for Arizona job

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This is certainly an interesting development.

Friday morning, FootballScoop.com mentioned Ken Niumatalolo as a potential candidate for the opening at Arizona.  A couple of hours later, ESPN.com reported that the Navy head coach has emerged as a “strong candidate” for the job.

The latest development adds further intrigue, with the Arizona Daily Star‘s Michael Lev writing that “Niumatalolo was unexpectedly absent from the Navy football offices today, fueling strong speculation that he will be the next coach of the Arizona Wildcats.” Lev added that it’s believed Niumatalolo is interviewing for the job today.

Niumatalolo and his option offense has gone 84-48 in 11 seasons at the service academy, including a pair of double-digit win seasons in 2009 and 2015.  In December of 2015, Niumatalolo, a member of the Mormon church, turned down the BYU job in order to return to Navy.

Former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is also believed to be a front-runner to replace Rich Rodriguez, who was fired earlier this month amidst sexual harassment claims that he described as fabricated and groundless.

A decision is expected in the not-too-distant future, perhaps as early as Friday.

Ex-Clemson DB Amir Trapp one of three FBS players transferring to FCS Furman

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One FCS team’s roster will have a decidedly FBS tinge to it this season.

Furman announced Thursday that it has added three FBS transfer players to its football program — defensive end Melton Brown from Georgia Southern, running back Cooper Hardin from Navy and cornerback/return specialist Amir Trapp from Clemson.  As the Paladins play at the FCS level, all three will be eligible to play for the school this coming season.

Out of the trio, Trapp likely holds the most name recognition, such as it is.

A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2015 recruiting class, Trapp was rated as the No. 28 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Trapp played in 13 games the past two seasons.

In mid-December, Trapp, whose father played football for the Tigers, announced he would be transferring out of the program.  He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining that he can use at his new football home.

Brown played in one game for the Eagles this past season, while Hardin didn’t play a down for the Midshipmen.  Each of those players will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Overmatched Virginia has no answers as Navy woodsheds Hoos in Military Bowl rout

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Navy began its 2017 season at a promising 5-0 before stumbling to a 1-6 finish to barely reach bowl eligibility.  The doom and gloom of the last half of the regular season, however, gave way to 2017 being put to bed on a positive note for the service academy.

After jumping out to a 28-7 halftime lead, Navy kept up that momentum throughout the second half in claiming an impressive 49-7 woodshedding of Virginia in the Military Bowl.  With the win, Ken Niumatalolo improved his record in bowl games to 5-4 as the Midshipmen claimed the Military Bowl, played on its home field, for the second time in three years.

Despite the win, Navy, at 7-6, did put the finishing touches on its worst season since going 5-7 in 2011.  That said, a punishing ground game — and their opponent’s benevolence — ensured the service academy would head into the offseason with a record north of the .500 mark.

Coming into the game second in the country averaging 343 yards per game, the Midshipmen passed that average in the third quarter en route to putting up 452 yards on the ground.  Starting quarterback Malcolm Perry led the way with 114 yards rushing while adding a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

Perry was injured early in the third quarter, however, and was replaced by the man he replaced as the starter, Zach Abey.  After rushing for a pair of first-half touchdowns, Abey added three more in the second half to give him a Military Bowl-record five and Player of the Game honors.  Abey ran for 88 yards, while Chris High chipped in with 101.  All told, a whopping 10 Navy players were credited with at least one carry.

Navy attempted just one pass in the contest, which fell incomplete.

Not that they needed the help, but the Midshipmen were greatly aided by three turnovers by the Cavaliers.  Those three turnovers, incidentally, were turned into 21 points by Navy.  While not counting as a turnover officially, the Hoos also handed the ball back to the Midshipmen inside UVa.’s 25-yard line when their punter touched his knee to the ground prior to getting off a punt late in the third quarter.  Navy, of course, turned that into more points on Abey’s fifth touchdown.

Even when they maintained possession of the ball, UVa. couldn’t do much with it.  Through three quarters of play, the Cavaliers managed just 138 yards of offense, including a woeful five yards on 14 carries; they would finish with a season-low 163 total yards and averaged 1.7 yards per rush attempt.  In fact, their only score of the game came when the opening kickoff of the first half was returned for a touchdown by Joe Reed.

Virginia finished the 2017 season at 6-7, the sixth straight seasons they’ve finished the year with a sub-.500 record.  Their last winning season came in 2011 when Mike London went 8-5 in his second season in Charlottesville.  London’s successor, Bronco Mendenhall, is now 8-17 as the Hoos head coach.

Navy running through Virginia at halftime of Military Bowl

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Navy came into its Military Bowl matchup with Virginia losers of three in a row and six of its last seven.  After 30 minutes of play, the Midshipmen appear to be headed back in the right, potentially winning direction.

Things didn’t start out well for the service academy, however, as the Cavaliers’ Joe Reed returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.  That was it for the Hoos the remainder of the half as the Midshipmen hold a commanding 28-7 lead at the half in a bowl game being played in their own home stadium.

Navy scored on its first two offensive possessions in the first quarter, and both of the scores came (surprise!!!) on the ground.  Former starting quarterback Zach Abey scored from one yard out to knot the score at 7-all, while current starting quarterback Malcolm Perry found the end zone from 22 yards away with just over four minutes left in the opening stanza to give Navy its first lead of the contest.

After a lull that included just Navy’s 17th three-and-out this season, Perry posted his second rushing touchdown on the afternoon, this one a 19-yarder, to push the lead into double digits.  Following a Virginia fumble on the ensuing possession, the Hoos’ second turnover in the half, Abey scored his second rushing touchdown on a one-yard run to push the lead to three scores.

Navy, which came into the game second in the country averaging 343 yards a game on the ground, put up 264 first-half rushing yards on a Cavaliers defense that had almost no answer for that facet of the Midshipmen’s offense.  In fact, that was the only facet of the service academy’s offense as Navy once again didn’t even attempt a pass.

Eight different Navy players carried the ball at least once, with Perry leading the way with 109 yards on 14 attempts.

Conversely, the Cavaliers could do next to nothing offensively either on the ground or through the air.  UVa. managed just 79 yards of offense — 69 passing and 10 rushing.  Quarterback Kurt Benkert struggled throughout, completing just 8-of-20 passes for all 69 of those passing yards and an interception.  Benkert came into the game averaging more than 250 yards per game through the air, and had thrown 26 touchdowns and eight picks.

Navy will get the ball back to start the second half.