Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry was not pleased to learn that Memphis offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey was talking some serious smack in the press box during Saturday’s game.
Cramsey, who was working from the visiting coaches box high atop Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, was quite loud in celebrating any explosive offensive plays by the Tigers.
After quarterback Seth Hennigan connected with wide receiver Joseph Scates for a 79-yard touchdown pass on the visitors’ opening possession of the second half, Cramsey taunted Newberry by name while basically saying that his defensive play-calling was predictable.
Newberry, who told the media this week there was a communication breakdown between defensive backs that enabled Scates to get behind the defense, fired back.
“Cramsey thinks a little higher of himself than perhaps he should. A lot of that wasn’t scheme, it was guys running past guys,” Newberry said.
Cramsey is in his first season at Memphis after spending four seasons as offensive coordinator at Marshall. That means Cramsey was calling the plays from the same location last season when Marshall amassed 464 total yards of offense in a 49-7 rout of Navy.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Tim Cramsey professionally; he’s done a good job at all the places he’s been. I don’t know him on a personal level,” Newberry said. “It’s disappointing to hear what happened up there. I’ve got more important things to worry about than Tim Cramsey.”
Newberry said the Navy defensive coaching staff always conducts self-scouting work to ensure they are not giving away tendencies on what calls are made in certain situations.
“I always try to be unpredictable,” Newberry said. “I don’t think we were predictable [Saturday].”
Cramsey seemed to strike a conciliatory note when asked about Saturday’s outbursts by reporter Evan Barnes of The Commercial-Appeal.
“Being a coordinator in Year 14, Brian Newberry is as good, if not the best, I’ve gone against,” Cramsey said. “What he does with that front and what he does with the linebackers with different fronts — the little things, different techniques that they do — can cause some havoc in there.”
Newberry and head coach Ken Niumatalolo both spoke glowingly about the play of inside linebacker Colin Ramos, who has totaled 16 tackles in two games.
Ramos did not start the opener, but came off the bench to lead the Midshipmen with nine tackles. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound sophomore also had a tackle for loss and forced fumble in that contest.
Ramos got the start at the Will linebacker position versus Memphis and had another strong outing with seven tackles and a sack.
“The thing with Colin is that he prepares as well as anyone on defense. He watches a lot of film and practices hard,” Newberry said. “He’s a competitor who plays really hard. He has some natural instincts and is able to diagnose plays really quickly.”
Newberry also had high praise for outside linebacker John Marshall, who leads Navy with 22 tackles in addition to 3 ½ tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Marshall plays the hybrid position known as striker and has lined up in different spots, while also being used in blitz situations. He was all over the field in making 15 tackles against Memphis.
“John has played really well and been super productive. We need that position to be productive,” Newberry said.
Newberry said junior defensive end Jacob Busic (Westminster High) has been “very disruptive” and credited the consistent play of outside linebacker Nicholas Straw, who recorded eight tackles and a sack versus Memphis.
Sophomore free safety Rayuan Lane and sophomore cornerback Mbiti Williams have totaled 13 and 10 tackles, respectively, so far this season.
“We’ve got the tools to be really good on defense. We just have to coach them better and give them a better idea of what to expect on Saturdays,” Newberry said.
It is a somewhat strange oddity that Navy football has been off either the second or third week of September in five of the last six seasons.
Most coaches would prefer a bye week to come in October after five or six games as it provides a break around the midpoint of the season and gives banged-up players a chance to heal.
Having a bye after one or two games does not make a whole lot of sense strategically. That is especially the case this season as Navy does not get another week off until after playing Central Florida on Nov. 19.
That means the Midshipmen will play nine straight games without a break.
Niumatalolo was asked this week what he thinks about having such an early bye week. The 15th-year coach made it clear he’s anxious to get back on the field following an 0-2 start.
“I’d like it better if we were 2-0. You want to get the bad taste out of your mouth. You don’t want this bad feeling to linger,” he said.
Navy started Josh Pena and Ahmad Bradley at offensive guard Memphis. However, sophomore Connor McMahon came off the bench and wound up playing a considerable number of snaps.
Interestingly, McMahon is listed as the backup at right tackle behind senior captain Kip Frankland. Niumatalolo and running game coordinator Ashley Ingram were pleased with the performance of McMahon, who made his first varsity appearance.
“Probably the biggest surprise was Connor McMahon. We put him in at guard and I thought he played really, really well. He really flew around out there,” Niumatalolo said.
Starting kicker Bijan Nichols missed a second straight game with a leg injury. Niumatalolo believes Nichols will make his season debut Sept. 24 at East Carolina, saying the senior tri-captain is more along the lines of probable, which is encouraging.”