It is difficult to know what to expect from Navy in 2017. The team faltered down the stretch in 2016 and lost its last three games. There were mitigating circumstances for those losses, but the team has also seen a host of important players move out of the program through graduation (and one transfer). With that in mind and sort of projection for Navy in 2017 is very much going out on a limb.
Athlon Sports is one of the publications that tackles offseason predictions in a big way and they like Navy in 2017. Athlon has Navy projected to finish tied for second in the American Athletic Conference West Division. They see the Mids finishing with an 8-4 overall record, going 5-3 in league play.
By their calculations, this would tie Navy with both Houston and Tulsa in the West with a 5-3 record. They like Memphis to win the West (6-2), while they have USF – under new head coach Charlie Strong – winning the East (7-1).
In the overall rankings, Navy was ranked 56th out of 130 teams. Only two of the Mids opponents in 2017 are ranked higher than Navy, as Notre Dame (20th) and Memphis (51st) look to have strong teams this fall. For those wondering Air Force (77th) and Army (80th) are comfortably below the Mids in this publications view.
Another interesting part of the preview is that the Mids positional groups were ranked based on their position in the conference. Out of 12 teams, Navy ranked in the following positions:
QB – Fifth
RB – Seventh
WR – 12th (Last)
OL – Third
DL – 11th
LB – Third
Secondary – 11th
This is a cool little chart as it quickly allows us to see where Navy is deficient. The Mids will be relying on the linebackers on defense as it is the only position group to get anything resembling a passing grade. It is also very interesting to see the Navy quarterbacks ranked as fifth best in the conference. You have to believe this is due as much to the Mids system and how Ken Niumatalolo guides his quarterbacks than anything that Zach Abey has produced on the first at this point.