The football team of the United States Naval Academy began this season on foreign soil. In what was classified as a "home" game on the schedule, Navy faced Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland. The Fighting Irish seemed right at home in the "Land of the Irish" and dominated the Midshipmen in a 50-10 rout.
The next time Navy took the field, they were blown out of Beaver Stadium by Penn State in a decisive 34-7 victory for the Nittany Lions.
The Midshipmen were off to an 0-2 start and had lost its first two games by a combined score of 84-17. To say Navy's Head Coach, Ken Niumatalolo, was able to turn his team and the season around would be a major understatement.
Following its first two losses, Navy reeled off eight wins over its next 10 games to finish the regular season with an 8-4 record, including an 11th straight season with a win against Army. Now, the Midshipmen have an opportunity to add one more win to their season total with a game against Arizona State in The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on December 29.
Considering the way they have been able to finish the season and the look of the current roster, the future for Navy Football is very bright.
In the team's fifth game of the season, which was against rival Air Force, Navy's starting quarterback, Trey Miller, was forced to leave the game with an ankle injury. Coach Niumatalolo turned to his backup freshman quarterback, Keenan Reynolds, to lead the offense.
Reynolds led the Midshipmen to an incredible comeback in an overtime victory on the road against Air Force and he hasn't looked back since.
The freshman from Antioch, TN has quickly picked up Navy's option offense and brings the team an added dimension of being able to accurately throw the ball down field. Reynolds has thrown for touchdown passes in four of the seven games he's started this season.
Barring injury, Reynolds will continue to develop and make Navy's offense even more potent. Combine his growth with an offense that is expected to return key contributors at the fullback, wide receiver and offensive line positions, and the Midshipmen can be expected to produce a lot of points next season.
The Naval Academy will also return some major pieces to a defense that was much improved from a year ago. Eight of the team's 11 defensive starters are expected to be back next year, giving Navy's Defensive Coordinator, Buddy Green, one of his more experienced units in recent seasons.
The Midshipmen will have a difficult 2013 schedule, facing six teams that were bowl eligible this season, but Navy will have the talent to compete with those teams and has the potential to finish the season with as many as 10 wins.
With an impressive freshman quarterback and a team that appears to be finishing the season with a great deal of positive momentum, Coach Ken Niumatalolo clearly has this ship going in the right direction.