Special teams an issue for the Mids against Maryland
Among the myriad mistakes from Monday's loss to Maryland that Navy will be seeking to correct today in its home opener are special teams breakdowns. The Midshipmen averaged 29.5 yards on two punts, allowed several long kickoff returns, muffed a catch on a punt return and had a field goal clank off the left upright.
The missed 32-yard field goal try by Joe Buckley in the first quarter wound up being critical in the 17-14 loss. Buckley was 10 of 13 on field goals last season, securing the starting job by making 3 of 3 against Air Force, including one from 47 yards.
Just as alarming was how poorly Kyle Delahooke punted after averaging 43.1 yards per attempt last season, with a long of 68. The senior has been the starting punter for the past two years during which he has averaged 42.4 yards per attempt.
"I guess more than concerned, I'm disappointed," Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo said, "because they had been solid. Joe's won some big games for us. Kyle's probably our most consistent guy during camp. He's just a machine everyday, so we know he can do better than that."
Navy also gave up a 57-yard punt return to Maryland in a game filled with unforced errors from the Midshipmen. They failed on 5 of 7 chances in the red zone, including twice losing fumbles at the goal line, despite outgaining Maryland 485 to 272 and amassing 26 first downs to 11 for the Terrapins.
"The punt return that they got, we had two blatant push in the backs, and we sent it to the ACC office already," Niumatalolo said. "We got three guys there getting ready to make a tackle then blatantly get pushed in the back, so I kind of take that as if that didn't happen, we would have tackled the guy, so but we've got to get better on special teams. There's no doubt."