We spent the week talking to Gavin Jernigan, a former Navy football player who writes for the Navy SB Nation blog Against All Enemies. He was kind enough to answer some of our staff’s questions.
VTF: How is Navy going to replace explosive quarterback Malcolm Perry?
Gavin: Any time a team loses a player as explosive and talented as Malcolm Perry, there is massive concern the team won’t be the same. Well, in most cases, the team isn’t the same. However, with Navy, this issue comes up nearly every 2-3 years. The current quarterback at the top of the depth chart is Dalen Morris. While Morris is no Malcolm Perry, he has his own strengths and plenty of potential to grow into the starting role. Morris is a rising senior and saw some play over the previous two seasons. He is much larger than Perry, as he is listed at 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds. For those familiar with Navy Football, he has the body type and style more like Will Worth from a few years back. Replacing Perry will be a tough challenge, no doubt. But, Coach Niumatalolo and Offensive Coordinator, Ivin Jasper, are quite familiar with drawing up offensive schemes to fit their personnel.
VTF: Please enlighten us about the Triple Option and how Navy uses it to their advantage.
Gavin: The Triple Option is an incredibly complex offense for both the offensive players to execute and the defensive players to read. Ultimately, on both sides of the ball, discipline is essential. There are many variations of the Triple Option, but we will focus on how Navy generally executes it. The Triple Option is exactly what it says it is; it created three options for who gets the ball. Option 1, the quarterback hands the ball up the middle to the B-Back, or in other words, the fullback. Option 2, the quarterback keeps the ball and runs the ball himself on the edge of the offensive line. Option 3, the quarterback pitches the ball to an A-back, or in other words a slotback or running back, who is sweeping to the outside. Navy has made variations of the formation from which they execute the Triple Option, but the options remain the same.
The teams who have been most successful in defending the option are ones who stack the box, play outside linebackers close up on the line, and play great 1-on-1 defense on the wide receivers. In the end, if the defenders are not discipline with their responsibilities, the Midshipmen will easily exploit the weakness and score with ease.
VTF (Mainly me): As a high school basketball coach at a small school, it is really difficult to prepare for some teams due to skill sets and size not always matching up. Is this an issue for Navy, and if so, how do they overcome it every year?
Gavin: That’s a great question. Frankly, it gets really difficult, especially when playing big time D1 teams like Notre Dame, etc. I played at Navy from 2012-2016. While I was there, Notre Dame had a few extremely tall and athletic tight ends who were essential in their offense. So not only did we not have a quarterback to run the scout team that could throw like a Notre Dame quarterback, but we also didn’t have anyone on the team who was 6’6” and could catch and move like their Tight Ends. We just did whatever we could to best simulate them and used some of the more athletic linemen to run routes (obviously not expecting them to catch the call). The lack of quality scout team representation for the defense is definitely one of the biggest pitfalls in the Navy Football program. However, if your offense scores more than your defense allows, you win!