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Ranking last in the FBS in turnover margin a shock to disciplined Navy

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Sports,Campus Confidential,Kevin Dunleavy

After lopsided defeats to Notre Dame and Penn State, the most shocking number to Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is the Mids’ turnover margin. With eight committed and one gained, Navy ranks No. 120 (last) in the FBS. The last four years, the Mids have ranked No. 15, No. 27, No. 15, and No. 7.

“We’ve never been 120 in turnover margin,” Niumatalolo said.

Quarterback Trey Miller has fumbled four times and thrown two interceptions. But Niumatalolo said Miller’s not totally to blame as he has been under siege from defenses with little help from his offensive line.

Miller’s fumbles on Saturday came on 2nd and 10 and 4th and 10 situations. His interception was on 3rd and goal at the 10. An interception he threw against Notre Dame was on 2nd and 14.

“It doesn’t matter, we just gotta take care of the ball, however it comes out,” Niumataolo said.

Navy is not contemplating lineup changes.

“We don’t want to abandon ship,” Niumatalolo said.

Sophomore Tanner Fleming – who got his first career start Saturday at Penn State — will continue at center despite playing a role in two false-start calls. For now the offensive line will remain intact with junior Graham Vickers continuing at his old right tackle slot after shifting to center against Notre Dame. Niumatalolo said that undersized sophomore defensive end Paul Quessenberry (6-2, 230) played well in his first career start.

“He has a motor. He plays hard,” Niumatalolo said. “That’s kind of who we are. If we play hard, good things happen.”

Senior wideout Matt Aiken was back practicing on Monday, coming off a knee injury, and will be “day to day” leading up to Saturday’s game against VMI of the FCS.

Other Niumatalolo quotes:

  • “We didn’t play very well. We didn’t coach very well. It was a program round butt-whipping.”
  • “It’s like popcorn. It’s not just one guy. It’s not the defense. It’s not the offense … The one bright spot, I think special teams have been pretty solid.”
  • “I just would have liked to seen us play better … That’s our main focus, making sure we take care of what we do — assignments, effort level, taking care of the ball, penalties.”
  • “If we don’t line up correctly, if we don’t run the right defense, run the right play, we’ve got zero chance … Doing things right just gives us an opportunity.”
  • “Yes, I’m crushed that we lost, but I’m more disappointed we played like crap.”

Kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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