Navy returns to the field, prepares for South Florida
Having missed their last two home games due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Navy Midshipmen got a clear bill of health in the form of negative coronavirus tests, allowing the Midshipmen to come together and prepare for Saturday night’s American Athletic Conference game against South Florida in Tampa, Fla.
Plenty of work looms for Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff to get the Midshipmen (3-4 3-2 AAC) ready to take on the Bulls (1-7, 0-6), who carry a seven-game losing streak that started after a season-opening 27-6 victory over The Citadel on Sept. 12.
Consider that Navy’s practice this past Friday (Nov. 13) was its first in-person team activity since Nov. 2. Numerous sources reported that through contact tracing the team could have been without at least 30 members if last Saturday’s game against Memphis had proceeded. Tuesday marked the team’s first live contact practice since a 51-37 loss to SMU in Dallas on Oct. 31.
Niumatalolo said his squad is fully intact, though he added that his staff hadn’t decided on a starting quarterback and would wait until later in the week to go with senior Dalen Morris or junior Tyger Goslin, who split time against SMU.
Morris, who has two rushing touchdowns, is 31-for-58 passing for a team-high 555 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. Goslin has three touchdowns and no interceptions, but has completed just 46 percent of his passes.
“We’re going to just try and go with it and make a decision as we get closer,” Niumatalolo said. “We have two huddles going and a lot of reps — it’s not like we have just one person getting the reps. We’d love to make (the decision) before Thursday so that quarterback could get all the Thursday reps.”
First-year coach Jeff Scott is also glad to have his team back on the field.
Thirteen South Florida players, including half of the team’s linebacking corps and graduate transfer quarterback Noah Johnson, missed last week’s 56-21 loss to Houston due to the virus and contact tracing.
Johnson, the 2018 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year while at Alcorn State, took every snap two weeks ago against Memphis, and he appeared to secure the position when he went 20-of-29 passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-33 loss.
But with Johnson unavailable at Houston, Scott turned to sophomore Jordan McCloud, who went 14-of-29 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. However, the Bulls trailed 28-0 at the half and never recovered.
“(It was) a really disappointing day overall,” Scott said. “Probably the only bright spot was coming out after halftime in a very tough situation. I felt like our guys really fought back.”
Navy has won two of the three meetings between the schools, including last season’s 35-3 win in Annapolis.
–Field Level Media