"When I got here, we were talking about who should play this key position in our defense," said Ellerson, who coached former New England Patriots star Tedy Bruschi at the same position when Bruschi was in college at Arizona. "I was trying to paint a word picture about what this position looks like and what this player looks like. John (Mumford) didn't blink. He said, 'You have to watch this guy.' He pulled out some game tape, and it was obvious that was where Josh belonged."
In 2009, McNary tied for second nationally with 1.88 tackles for loss per game (22.5 overall) and tied for fourth nationally with 1.04 sacks per game (12.5 overall). His tackles behind the line of scrimmage resulted in 132 yards in losses and he established a single-game Army sack record with four against Temple. He also registered a season-high 10 tackles at Iowa State.
"He's built like granite," Mumford said. "But I think the thing that's helped him be successful is he's extremely explosive. That explosive speed and agility has turned him into a fairly good threat as a pass rusher."
Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs will keep an eye peeled for No. 44 on every play, even though the Middies, like the Black Knights, run the ball most of the time in their tricky triple-option attacks.
"Fortunately, we don't throw the ball a thousand times," Niumatalolo said. "If we threw the ball a thousand times, I'd be worried about it. We're an option team, but you've still got to be worried about him."
McNary was limited to reserve status for the Navy game two years ago due to a shoulder injury and made six tackles in last year's 17-3 loss. He's ready for this one.
"I know what I have to do," said McNary, who aspires to give the NFL a shot after his military commitment. "I've been over it time and time again. I have to stay disciplined, not try to overcompensate. This defense against this team definitely requires individual accountability. You can't worry about somebody else's task when you have your own to worry about.
"Every time you leave your own assignment, that opens up a big hole that can be easily exploited."
Navy's been exploiting those vs. Army for awhile now. Maybe McNary and Co. turn the tables this time.
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