Week Two offers up a chance for redemption as the Hoosiers host Navy in Bloomington.
Written By Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3)
There are only 42 days until the 2013 college football season kicks off. Earlier this week we began to take our look ahead at the 2013 Hoosier schedule when we broke down their Week One matchup against Indiana State. This week we jump ahead nine days and set our sights on Week Two when the Navy Midshipmen travel to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers.
Week 2: Navy Midshipmen
Time & Date: 6 pm, Saturday, Sept. 7th
Venue: Memorial Stadium (Bloomington, IN)
TV: Big Ten Network/BTN2Go
Midshipmen at a Glance:
Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (40-25, 5 years)
Last Season: 8-5
Specials: Kicker & Punter
Returning Team Leaders:
Passing: Keenan Reynolds (56.5%, 898 Yds, 9 TD, 2 INT)
Rushing: Noah Copeland (738 Yds, 4.6 Avg, 5 TD)
Receiving: Shawn Lynch (14 Rec., 281 Yds, 20.1 Avg, 1 TD)
Preseason Magazine Predictions:
The predictions for Navy are always varied, as they are independent. Each magazine predicts them based on different standards, from record to bowl game, to a fake Independent rankings.
Athlon: 8-5 Record, No Conference for Standings
Phil Steele: 4th Best Independent.
Sporting News: Armed Forces Bowl
Why the Midshipmen could win:
In 2012 the Midshipmen hosted Indiana, and were not very hospitable hosts. The Hoosiers controlled the lead for the entirely of the first half, and most of the second for that matter. The Mids were down 30-21 with under six-minutes to play, however they didn’t go down with out a fight. Navy ended up scoring the games final 10 points on their way to pulling off the 31-30 come from behind victory. This year the Navy players will surely be fired up for this game, as it is their season opener, and one of just four BCS level opponents on the schedule this year.
In 2013 Navy will field their usual option based offensive attack. It is not only a potent weapon, it also forces opposing teams to completely alter their defensive approach in the middle of the season. The Mids found their quarterback last year in Keenan Reynolds, a dynamic playmaker and just a sophomore. While they did lose their leading rusher and receiver to graduation in the offseason, the Midshipmen are still very deep at the skill positions. Fullback Noah Copeland leads the way in the backfield and will look to build on his strong sophomore performance. Add to that slotback Geoffrey Whiteside and wideout Shawn Lynch and Navy has all the weapons they need to continue their offensive potency, and maybe even take it to the next level.
While Navy might be a military academy, they by no means are unaccustomed to success on the football field. The Midshipmen have gone bowling nine times in the past ten years. The depth overall has improved to the point were the coaches might think about putting out a three-deep roster. They will not wear down, bend or break for an Indiana team that couldn’t take them down last year.
Why They Won’t Pull it Off:
The fact is that the Indiana players, coaches and staff are going to want revenge for a game that they saw slip through their hands last year. This time however, Navy will be traveling to Bloomington and battling a Hoosier team that is much more experienced than the 2012 edition. In addition, because of the fact that Indiana played the Mids just last year, their personnel is already familiar with their offence and will not have to implement a completely different defensive scheme, nullifying one of the biggest advantages that Navy has.
Last year against Navy, the Hoosiers had their worst passing performance of the season. Cameron Coffman was a very respectable 25-for-37 for 244 yards. Unfortunately for the Hoosier cause the signal caller threw two interceptions while he was unable to find the end zone all day. I think it is rather certain that the Indiana passing game will be both more effective and potent when the teams matchup in 2013.
As far as the Midshipmen themselves, the most obvious reason is that the overall size and speed of the Navy defense is always a huge question mark. They are continuously overmatched physically. This was obvious in their losses in 2012 in which they allowed nearly 40 points per game.
While there is experience coming back on both sides of the ball, the entire left side of the Mids offensive line will have to be replaced which is always a concern when your offensive scheme is predicated on running the football. Adding to that is the fact that while there is depth across the board, Navy did lose their leading rushing and reliever to graduation.
Navy has been a consistently overachieving program, given the obvious hurdles that come along with being a service academy program. They have gone bowling in nine of the last ten seasons, and are not overwhelmed when matching up with a major conference program.
The tempo that this game will be played at will be as important as any other aspect to both teams. If Indiana has its way it will be a fast paced, high scoring game. The Hoosiers would love to put some points up early in this game and be able to runaway and hide early. Navy on the other hand likes to slow the game down using their option offense. The Mids will hope to keep the game close, as that is where they feel most comfortable. Navy has played in 56 games that have been decided by eight points or less over the last decade and have a record of 32-24 in such contests.
I fully expect the Doug Mallory lead Hoosier defense to game plan and be ready for a Navy offense that they are familiar with. With the Hoosiers having 7 returning starters on the side of the ball the experience against the unusual scheme will allow the learning curve to be far less steep than it was last year.
While the Midshipmen are a deep and well lead squad, this is a game that Indiana should come away from victorious. Between the revenge factor, the game being played at home, and a far more experienced ball club this season, the Hoosiers look as if they will start the season 2-0 for the second straight season. The non-conference portion of the schedule is the key to the level success that this team can attain in 2013. While most expect the Hoosiers to at least split their four game non-conference slate, if they are able to go 3-1, or somehow find a way to win all four, the teams chances of going bowling at seasons end should increase exponentially.