ANNAPOLIS, Md. — It was over before it even began.
"That looked like our first live scrimmage and it looked like they’ve been preparing," said Navy Head Football Coach Ken Niumatalolo. "We weren’t ready to play. Obviously it’s the worst Navy football game we’ve ever played."
Navy was bombarded by BYU in Monday night's season opener, losing 55-3. It was the largest margin of defeat in Niumatalolo’s 13 years as head coach at the Naval Academy.
"We weren’t prepared and that was my fault because I chose to block bags and tackle donuts," he said.
In the Mids’ COVID-19 cautious training camp Niumatalolo chose to go without live tackling.
"I erred on the side of trying to keep our guys safe with COVID-19 and contact tracing stuff. I made the decision to practice that way and obviously it killed us. I mean it killed us," he said. "We’ve never seen a Navy football team play like that. We weren’t ready."
BYU was more than ready. The Cougars dominated both lines of scrimmage. They scored on 8 of their first 9 possessions. Six of those ended with touchdowns. BYU racked up 580 total yards while Navy was limited to only 149 - the second-lowest total in the Niumatalolo era. The Midshipmen managed only 7 first downs - the fewest under Coach Ken.
"Grade-wise, I’d say it’s an F. Didn’t execute well at all and the offense relies on me," said Navy quarterback Dalen Morris. The senior made his first collegiate start at QB. He carried the ball seven times for six yards and completed two of his four passes for 16 yards before being replaced by Perry Olsen to start the second half. Olsen rushed for 25 yards on ten carries and completed two of his four passes for 14 yards.
Now the focus shifts to game No. 2. The Mids visit Tulane on Sept. 19. Some changes to practice methods could be on the way.
"We’ve got to do something. I got to talk to the doctors and see what we can do and what we’re allowed to do," said Niumatalolo.
"We were getting pushed off the ball, missed a lot of tackles. So, we’re definitely open to getting more opportunities to tackle in practice so that doesn’t happen in there future," said Navy cornerback Cameron Kinley.
"You go back to the drawing board," added Morris. "You put the hard hat back on and you go to work. Simple as that."
You can watch the Sept. 19 Navy vs. Tulane matchup on WMAR. Kickoff is set for Noon.