Wyatt Middleton Helping Out at Outside Linebacker
When Navy lost both of its starting outside linebackers to injury during the first half of Saturday's loss at Pittsburgh, defensive coordinator Buddy Green turned to one of the Midshipmen's most dependable — and physical — players to fill in. He moved junior rover Wyatt Middleton into senior Ram Vela's outside linebacker spot, and Middleton finished with nine tackles, including one for a loss, and had a quarterback hurry. (Sophomore Kwesi Mitchell moved to rover in Middleton's place.)
"It takes some football sense to make that transition," Green said of Middleton. "It just happened we lost both [starters], and with the matchup against [Pittsburgh's] receivers and the things we were doing, we felt better about putting him at that position. He did a heck of a job."
Vela (hip pointer) and senior Clint Sovie (bruised ribs) went down with injuries early in the 27-14 loss to the Panthers, and both players sat out of practice on Tuesday. Senior Craig Schaefer (Robinson) took Sovie's place, as he did against Pittsburgh, and Middleton continued to gets some reps at the other outside linebacker spot. The Midshipmen could also use junior Tyler Simmons, who has played well off the bench at inside linebacker, at outside linebacker.
"I was doing a lot of outside linebacker today, just to make sure I have this spot down completely and don't miss assignments or have major errors," Middleton said on Tuesday. "But I'm still getting my reps at rover."
For Middleton, the transition to outside linebacker isn't that difficult, since that was the position he played throughout high school. He has always been considered to be one of Navy's best tacklers.
"It takes me back to the old days," Middleton said. "Just run after the ball. Just find the ball."
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