Lapoint: Navy Debacle Unveiled New Safety Concern

It feels so good to have college football games to look forward to again. College football Saturdays feel like Christmas day for me, except once a week for five months straight instead of once a year. In week one, I had one of those Christmas day like games circled on my calendar: BYU visiting Navy. To say I was excited about this game would be a vast understatement. Hell, I got excited for Austin Peay to play Central Arkansas in week zero, so you can only imagine how excited I was for a week one matchup featuring two historically excellent college football programs. After all the country has been through with the Coronavirus and not having college sports since early march, we had earned a great labor day primetime college football game on opening weekend. Come to find out 5 minutes into the broadcast before kickoff, the Naval Academy hadn’t gone live since last January’s bowl win over Kansas State.

For those who listen to the College Kids Talking College Sports Podcast, you know I was all in on Navy when picking this game. The Midshipmen had been practicing for a while and are on one of the safest campuses in the country when it comes to the Coronavirus. I thought they would play Navy football and squeeze out a great opening victory, running the triple option to perfection. Oh, how wrong I was. BYU forced Navy to go 3-and-out on their first drive, giving up three yards to the Midshipmen and forcing a punt. The Cougars proceeded to go 74 yards in 7 plays taking a whopping 2:49 seconds to go up on the Midshipmen 7-0, and the rest of the game followed suit. 

Final score: BYU 55, Navy 3. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love the Naval Academy, and I have great pride in the Midshipmen, but words can hardly describe how disappointing I found the performance they turned in on Monday night. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo decided going into preseason he would limit player interaction as much as possible. This included zoom position meetings, no live tackling or scrimmaging, and many other safety precautions to protect against the Coronavirus spread. I absolutely love that coach Niumatalolo is looking out for his players’ health and well-being, but if you aren’t going to give your players the best chance to compete on the field and win games, you should have opted out of the season.

I respect all people taking precautions to keep their players safe and away from the virus, but you can’t let your players go against grown men in a Division One football game underprepared. Thankfully none of the Midshipmen got hurt, but that was a severe concern of mine going into this game. Players who go into games underprepared get hurt. This team is not fit to continue to play college football at the rate they are going, and I think they need to change their mindset on practice or opt-out of the rest of the college football season to look out for their players’ best interest. These players and coaches are some of the best and the brightest in college football, and I have nothing but respect for each and every Midshipman, but I can’t go through a season of watching an underprepared Navy football team get waxed, hoping someone doesn’t get hurt.

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