Starting fullback Alexander Teich was back at practice today after being held out of Saturday’s 63-35 loss to Southern Miss for violating team rules, and Coach Ken Niumatalolo said the senior co-captain again is in good standing and is set to resume his starting role when Navy plays Rutgers this weekend.
The specific violation remains unclear, but Niumatalolo said it was at a level that may not have drawn a suspension at another institution but that players at Navy are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard.
“He paid his price,” Niumatalolo said after practice today. “It was a heavy price to pay. Like I said, if some people would have heard for what he did he was suspended for a game, that’s a steep price, and he’s paid it, done a great job, did a great job at the game being a leader on the sideline.”
The Midshipmen missed Teich on Saturday, especially during two early trips deep into Golden Eagles territory. Navy got to the 6-yard line on the first possession of the game, but backup fullback Mike Patrick lost two yards on second down, slotback John Howell ran for one, then place kicker Jon Teague had a 29-yard field goal blocked and returned 79 yards for a touchdown.
Navy advanced to the 1 on its second series, but a run by senior quarterback Kriss Proctor yielded no gain on second and goal, slotback Bo Snelson was stopped at the line of scrimmage on third, and Proctor was unable to push the ball across the goal line on fourth down.
Southern Miss then marched the length of the field for a touchdown to make it 14-0, and the blowout was just getting started.
“It was brutal,” Teich said of having to watch Navy’s third loss in a row from the sideline. “When I got suspended, it broke my heart because these are your guys, and you put in all that work in with these guys, and to not be able to not be able to go out there and grind with them and get after it, I knew I was letting everyone down by not being out there. I didn’t give them the best opportunity to win that ballgame by me being on the sideline. It hurt.”
Entering last week, Teich was Navy’s leading rusher with 408 yards. Although Proctor surpassed him with a game-high 123 yards against Southern Miss, Teich’s 5.2 average per carry is the highest among Navy players with more than 21 carries.
The Midshipmen are gladly welcoming Teich back into the lineup this week not only because they’re seeking to end the first three-game slide in Niumatalolo’s three-plus years as head coach, but also because Navy’s next opponent is ranked 20th in the country in run defense. The Scarlet Knights give up 101.2 rushing yards per game.
“That’s part of my problem sometimes. I let my emotions get the best of me,” Teich said. “That’s something I’ve always tried to control, but at the same time, I can’t change who I am just from one instance. I’ve got to watch what I do sometimes, but I’m not going to not play with this emotion. It’s gotten me this far in life, and it’s who I am.”