ANNAPOLIS — Navy safety Kwesi Mitchell knew defensive coordinator Buddy Green was coaching from the press box Saturday. It didn’t mean he wasn’t a little startled every time he looked to the sideline and didn’t see the veteran coach there.
Green moved to the press box for Navy’s 42-14 defeat of Troy and plans to remain there as the Midshipmen (3-6) visit Southern Methodist (6-3) on Saturday.
“It was really different,” Mitchell said. “I see myself looking for him on the sideline still. I know he’s not there, and I’m still searching up and down the sideline for the call. It’s just basically getting the calls, but our assistant coaches did great and they bring just as much energy as him.”
That’s no easy task, of course. But for Green, it was a switch he felt was needed considering Navy’s defensive struggles.
Navy had faced plenty of pass-happy, up-tempo teams in recent weeks, including Southern Mississippi and East Carolina. Troy also possesses the same reputation, prompting the change.
“I don’t know if I called a better game,” Green said. “You always feel like you make good calls. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Teams that run no huddle, at a fast pace, it gave me a little better idea of who was going into the game and out of the game, what kind of tempo they were going. It gave me the chance to look at all the positions and see where we were.”
The results were impressive, even if they came against a reeling team. Troy’s 14 points match the fewest allowed by the Mids this season, and the Trojans’ 330 yards of offense were the second-lowest by a Navy opponent this year.
Green’s position responsibility is the secondary, so it was little wonder Mitchell had an eye out for Green. But with outside linebackers coach Tony Grantham and defensive line coach Dale Pehrson signaling plays in and Green able to talk to all of them over his headset, the operation ran smoothly.
“For the whole scheme of things, I bet you it was a lot easier for him kind of see from a top point of view what kind of personnel they have in the game and see what kind of adjustments he could make up there,” defensive end Jabaree Tuani said. “For us [on the field], it was the same old, same old.”
Green said he had coached in the press box before, including at times at Navy, so the change wasn’t jarring.
More importantly, Green plans to remain there when the Mids, who need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible, play Saturday. He’ll encounter no arguments from coach Ken Niumatalolo after Navy snapped a six-game losing streak last Saturday.
“Not that I’m superstitious,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
NOTES: Niumatalolo was pleased with the return of slotback Aaron Santiago, who had six carries for 80 yards against Troy. Santiago missed six games —all losses — with a broken forearm. For the season, he is averaging 9.1 yards on 17 carries.
“He just gives us a boost,” Niumatalolo said. “There’s a quiet confidence about that kid that as coaches and as a team, we know when his number is called, he’s going to make a play.”
* Niumatalolo said senior left tackle David Sumrall has ended his career because of concussions. Sumrall started the first three games for the Mids, then appeared as a reserve in the next three. He has not played since Oct. 15. Sumrall suffered a concussion during spring practice, another during preseason camp and another in October.
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Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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