Initial Reads March 18: The Rise of Navy Football

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AAC Football Fever is more than a Friend of the Site; let’s call it Family of the Site. So, it’s with some personal bias that I present the following as must-read. Jacob Thigpen has an originally reported feature on the rise of Navy football, with insights from Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson and his successor in Annapolis, Ken Niumatalolo.

Navy football is headed to the American Athletic Conference in the coming season, a major milestone in a 12-year transformation.

USC Football’s Tight End Golden Age Has Passed; Alicia De Artola, Reign of Troy

When Steve Sarkisian was introduced as USC’s head coach, he promised an offense prominently featuring the tight end. That didn’t seem like it would be difficult, given Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ play under Sarkisian at Washington.

However, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick’s ineligibility last season and Bryce Dixon’s on-going issues have complicated Sarkisian’s plan. Reign of Troy examines further.

Memphis Tiger Football Practice Draws Fuente’s Ire; Phil Stukenborg, The Commercial Appeal

Memphis football may be coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, but head coach Justin Fuente doesn’t want his Tigers resting on their laurels. Fuente ripped his team’s effort in spring practices, saying:

We’ve got a long way to go, mentally, emotionally and physically. We practiced like an immature team today. We’ve got to get better. It’s disappointing. Luckily, we have a whole bunch more practices, but we can’t waste any of them. It takes a lot of little things to give yourself a chance to win ballgames and we didn’t do very many of (those little things) today.

Given how Memphis ended its successful 2014 season, one can understand why Fuente might have an edge.

Georgia Rebuilding Its Offense Around Nick Chubb, Veteran Line; Charles Odum, Associated Press

The Georgia Bulldogs had one of the most prolific offenses in the SEC, and the highest scoring side in program history. But with Mike Bobo gone to Colorado State and Georgia replacing its quarterback and top wide receivers, the Bulldogs face substantial change this offseason.

In a period of change, it’s important to find some stability. And Georgia has stability in running back Nick Chubb, as Odum writes:

The winner of the quarterback competition likely will do a lot of handing off to Chubb, who ran for more than 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014 as Gurley was lost to a suspension and knee injury.