ANNAPOLIS | Senior fullback Alexander Teich is unlikely to play in Saturday’s game against Southern Mississippi as part of a team disciplinary matter, coach Ken Niumatalolo said Wednesday.
Teich is Navy’s offensive captain. Niumatalolo did not specify the nature of Teich’s transgression.
“There’s some things that he has to address,” Niumatalolo said. “It’s not like what you think that would happen to other programs. It’s not a felony or anything like that. But just some things of who we are that we need to address and I’m quite confident he’ll address that.”
Teich was not at practice Wednesday.
The Conroe, Texas, native is coming off one of his best games for Navy (2-2), a 149-yard outing in a 35-34 overtime loss to Air Force. He leads the Mids in rushing with 408 yards and a touchdown, and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Niumatalolo said senior Delvin Diggs and sophomore Mike Patrick would fill in for Teich against Southern Mississippi (4-1). Neither reserve is especially experienced. Diggs has 32 career rushing yards on 10 attempts, and does not have a carry since Navy’s season opener on Sept. 3. He missed one game with an ankle injury.
Patrick did not play last season. He has 12 carries for 86 yards this year, and spelled Teich for six rushes on Saturday.
“This is the Naval Academy,” Niumatalolo said. “It’s more than wins or losses to me. To me, our program is about doing what’s right. It’s way more than between the white lines. Yeah, we’re trying to win games. But the bottom line is we’re trying to produce leaders for our country. There’s some leadership stuff and things he needs to address, but I have great confidence he’ll get that done.”
Teich has made 17 career starts, and emerged this season as a nearly every-down player after splitting time much of the last two seasons with the since-graduated Vince Murray. The rugged fullback handled a career-high 35 carries in Saturday’s loss. It was the fourth 100-yard game of his career and the second this season.
One of the emotional linchpins of Navy’s roster, he was perhaps the most visibly frustrated of the four players who spoke to the media after Saturday’s loss. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on quarterback Kriss Proctor after he scored a touchdown forced Navy to attempt a 35-yard extra point. The kick was blocked, and Proctor described the penalty call to reporters afterward as “pitiful.”
Niumatalolo didn’t offer an expected return date for Teich, though he did acknowledge “he’s probably not going to play this game.” Throughout the week, Niumatalolo emphasized the importance of Saturday’s contest for the course of the Mids’ season. Navy is attempting to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2002.
Niumatalolo declined to delve deeply into what led to Teich’s absence when asked to do so.
“It’s kind of a family, inner circle deal and I don’t want to disclose too much of what’s going on,” Niumatalolo said. “You don’t want to air dirty laundry, so to speak, because the kid’s been an important part of our program. So out of respect for him, I don’t want to say what happened.”