Unbelievably it is already time for the big websites and publications to start cranking out their 2017 college football previews. It really does feel like the 2016 season only just ended, but with spring practice done and dusted, and with so many teams in the FBS to cover, previews are going to start coming thick and fast even though were are only in early May.
One of the more in-depth previews out there each year come courtesy of SB Nation (LINK). Their preview covers the standard offense/defense/special teams, along with a few other gems. One of the coolest aspects of their preview is the offense and defensive radars, graphics that give a great insight as to how Navy ranked in a slew of categories against the other FBS squads.
The first thing to note from this preview is that the site likes Navy a lot. The preview mentions how the Mids excelled last season despite losing so much, including a once in a generation quarterback. It also talks about how Navy has nothing like as many personnel losses this year and that the defense, in particular, is in good shape to rebound as long as the drop off last year was due to inexperience and not poor recruiting choices.
The site, however, has Navy finishing 6-6 in 2017 with an S&P+ (schedule and projection) rank of 71 out of the 129 schools. This would be an almost 20 place drop from how the Mids ended the 2016 season with a 9-5 record and a 52nd place finish. Note that the finish would likely have been way higher if not for a couple of serious quarterback injuries.
The 6-6 record looks bad on paper given the Mids level of play in their first two seasons in the AAC. A closer look though shows that Navy has a brutal conference schedule in 2017, with road trips to Memphis, Temple, and Houston all producing a less than 40 percent chance of victory. The one plus looking at the schedule is that outside of Notre Dame (a 15 percent win chance) everything else is 32-percent or higher. These games are often toss ups.
It is also mentioned in the article that Navy is one of the hardest teams to review in this way. You cannot just loos at personnel losses or recruiting rankings because Navy plays above the level of those metrics. The Mids have also outperformed the win rankings by at least a game per year since Ken Niumatalolo has been in charge and last year their rating for this was almost two full wins. That is why the end of the article jokes that the over/under for Navy should be set at eight rather than six as the Mids just don’t know when they are supposed to lose.
All in all, this is an excellent preview and is well worth the read.