Gargiulo part of the Midshipmen's gameplan after sitting out Army-Navy game
By BILL WAGNER | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: December 27, 2017
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Many Navy football fans were miffed about why starting fullback Anthony Gargiulo did not play against Army.
Gargiulo was dressed and was highlighted by CBS announcers Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson during the pregame evaluation of the matchup. However, the 6-foot-2, 239-pounder did not get into the game for a single snap as the Midshipmen went with Chris High and Josh Walker instead.
Navy football followers who had watched Gargiulo emerge as the team’s most effective fullback in the latter half of the season were up in arms about the situation. The Capital was flooded with emails from fans questioning why the New Jersey native was not used on offense.
Asked about the situation last week, fullbacks coach Mike Judge explained there were two reasons why the coaching staff made the decision it did. First and foremost, Gargiulo suffered a foot injury during practice on Nov. 28 and was not 100 percent. Secondly, Navy’s game-plan of employing a zone option offense required a faster, quicker fullback.
“Anthony missed five days of practice leading up to the game. He practiced the last couple days on a limited basis,” Judge said. “If we had needed Anthony to play, he could have played. He may have been healthy enough to go, but certainly was not in top form.”
Judge said the larger issue was the game-plan did not suit Gargiulo since Navy did not operate out of its traditional offensive set. Starting quarterback Malcolm Perry lined up in shotgun formation and was flanked by a fullback and slotback.
“Just the way the game was going, it was more of a Chris High and Josh Walker type of game. Just from the style of play and being in the shotgun,” Judge said. “Some of those runs and some of the cuts we were asking the fullback to make just fit Chris’s and Josh’s game more than Anthony’s.”
Navy’s fullback normally lines up in a three-point stance five yards behind the center and therefore hits the line of scrimmage in a hurry. Gargiulo, who has rushed for 383 yards on 71 carries this season, is like a sledgehammer in the traditional triple-option formation.
“Anthony does really well five yards from the ball. Against Army, we were asking the fullback to be eight yards from the ball,” Judge said. “It’s all because the fullback lines up further back. That’s the biggest difference. Just the timing of the play and the way it hits the line of scrimmage is different.”
Again, Gargiulo did not get many practice repetitions to become accustomed to lining up deeper and running the ball out of shotgun and the coaching staff did not see enough to be confident he could do it.
“Anthony is a much better traditional triple-option quarterback. Chris and Josh are a little more suited to operating out of the gun. It just fit their skill sets and style of play better,” Judge said.
Gargiulo supplanted High as the starting fullback by rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown against SMU. The strong and powerful junior rumbled for 87 yards at Notre Dame and was the only fullback that got any carries in that contest. He ran for 71 yards and a touchdown versus Houston.
Judge reassured fans that Gargiulo is very much a part of the gameplan for Thursday’s Military Bowl. “Anthony will be dressed and playing plenty of snaps in the Virginia game,” he said.