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Military Bowl: Air Force and Toledo visit RFK
The Military Bowl is more than two weeks away, but coaches from both Air Force and Toledo were in town on Tuesday for an initial tour of the city in which their teams will be playing on Dec. 28 at RFK Stadium.
Falcons Coach Troy Calhoun is somewhat familiar with the Washington metropolitan area, having been in the vicinity to play Navy multiple times. Most recently, Air Force traveled to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Oct. 1 and departed with a 35-34 overtime win that was among the more memorable in service academy history.Continue reading this post »
Jabaree Tuani leads inspired defense for Navy vs. SMU
The scene inside the Navy locker room at Ford Stadium was predictably jubilant following a 24-17 win against Southern Methodist that kept its bowl aspirations afloat, and the celebration continued even longer after Mustangs Coach June Jones presented the team with the Frank Gansz Trophy, awarded to the winner of this game since 2009.
Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo accepted the trophy after Jones made some especially kind remarks about the Midshipmen, urging them to win next week against San Jose State and continue on the road to a bowl game. Moments later, Niumatalolo commended the defense for one of its most inspired performances in limiting the county’s 15th-ranked passing offense to its third fewest points this year.
Leading that charge was senior defensive end Jabaree Tuani, whose contributions included three tackles for losses and a sack. Tuani harassed quarterback J.J. McDermott frequently when the game was still in the balance, and his defensive mates backed him up with a several critical plays.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Niumatalolo said. “Our defense has taken some criticism this year. Starting with our defensive coordinator [Buddy Green] and the coaches, they’ve just continued to battle. Come to work everyday, come early, don’t worry about what the critics or the skeptics are saying. Just come with that work mentality, and it rubbed off on our kids.”Continue reading this post »
SMU game a Texas homecoming for many Navy players
The Navy football team needs a victory on Saturday over Southern Methodist to keep its bowl aspirations alive, but a win also could go a long way in helping the Midshipmen in recruiting. Navy traditionally has recruited heavily from Texas, and there are 20 players on the roster from the state.
Senior fullback Alexander Teich is the most prominent player on the team from Texas. The co-captain hails from Conroe, which is approximately a four-hour drive from Dallas. Teich did not play the last time Navy was at SMU in 2009.
Other Navy players from Texas include nose guard Alex Doolittle, linebacker Max Blue, slotback Bo Snelson, cornerback Jonathan Wev and punter Pablo Beltran. Freshman nose guard Brice Musgrove is from Dallas, and junior wide receiver Tyler Lynch is from Irving.
Navy’s 20 players from Texas are tied for the most from one state on the team. The Midshipmen also have 20 players from Florida.
Change of scenery gives defensive a lift
The Navy football team had lost six in a row heading into Saturday, so the coaching staff was searching for any possible advantage in a game the Midshipmen had to win in order to keep alive bowl aspirations. Among the solutions in this case was as simple as has having defensive coordinator Buddy Green call the game from the press box rather than from his customary spot on the sideline.
The move allowed Green to see the field from a higher vantage point and to get a better feel for Troy’s spread offense. The result was one of the defense’s more complete performances of the season and a 42-14 victory over Troy that ended Navy’s skid dating from Sept. 17.
“I just thought we needed a change,” Green said. “I thought I could see more from up there. All these hurry-up offenses we’ve been playing, I could see their personnel and the speed of the game a little bit quicker.”
His players responded in kind too, most notably junior defensive end Collin Sturdivant, who recovered the first fumble of his career and logged his first career sack. Junior linebacker Tra’ves Bush led the team with 10 tackles, and cornerback David Sperry had eight.
The Midshipmen gave up 109 yards in the first half, when they rolled to a 35-0 advantage to all but ensure the outcome. Navy twice recovered fumbles in the first half, and those turnovers led to touchdowns that gave the Midshipmen a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
“Coach is always talking about you need to be ready when your [name] is called because you never know,” said Sturdivant, who wasn’t on this week’s two-deep depth chart. “Definitely I feel like all the hard work paid off.”Continue reading this post »