Blue Ribbon Preview: Navy

Updated: July 13, 2011, 10:00 AM ET
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The NCAA allows college football teams 15 spring practices, 12 of which can be in pads, and eight of which can involve tackling. Rarely do coaches take advantage of all eight tackling days. But this spring, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo did just that.

"You have eight tackling [practices out of 15], so that means approximately 50 percent of the time you can tackle," Niumatalolo said. "Forty-nine-point-nine percent of the time we were tackling."

Niumatalolo isn't a masochist, but he is a realist. The Midshipmen entered the spring with plenty of holes to fill and depth to build, especially on defense, where they lost eight starters. Niumatalolo knew that shell drills weren't going to help him and his staff figure out the depth chart. He needed to see the players in action.

"The only way you're going to answer any questions is by tackling," Niumatalolo said.

Niumatalolo didn't limit his pads-on philosophy to the defense.

"Normally, we have the quarterbacks in green, which means they are off limits to hit," Niumatalolo said. "But this spring, the only quarterback that [was] off limits is [Kriss] Proctor. The other guys are going to be in blue because I don't know what Trey Miller or Jarvis Cummings can do."

Senior fullback and co-captain Alex Teich, who sat out the spring recovering from shoulder surgery, saw (and heard) the difference more tackling made in practice.

"Every day, we were having guys going against each other, getting after it," Teich said. "We needed to see who could step up."


Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (Hawaii '90)
Record at school: 27-14 (3 years)
Career record: 27-14 (3 years)

• Ivin Jasper (Hawaii '94) Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
• Buddy Green (NC State '76) Defensive coordinator
• Chris Culton (Georgia Southern '01) Offensive line/tackles
• Justin Davis (Maine '01) Defensive line
• Tony Grantham (Radford '00) Outside linebackers
• Ashley Ingram (North Alabama '96) Offensive line/centers and guards
• Steve Johns (Occidental College '91) Inside linebackers/special teams coordinator
• Keith Jones (The Citadel '75) Secondary
• Mike Judge (Springfield College '05) Fullbacks
• Danny O'Rourke (West Georgia '00) Slot backs
• Dale Pehrson (Utah '96) Defensive line/recruiting coordinator
• Napolean Sykes (Wake Forest '06) Assistant outside linebackers
• Mick Yolkitis Wide receivers