It’s no secret that the United States Merchant Marine Academy football team likes to put the ball on the ground. That’s the nature of a triple-option offense.

But coach Mike Toop envisions a slightly more balanced offense this fall. Quarterback Bryce Moore has an intriguing arm, and with a bevy of freshman wide receivers at his disposal, he has options.

Add in tight end Robert Baker, named the team’s most outstanding offensive player last year, and Moore could thrive.

“He has tough shoes to fill in replacing Matt McDaniels,” Toop said. “But we just want him to worry about being Bryce, not about being Matt.”

Of course, Moore will also be one of the primary beneficiaries of the triple-option. Moore, Spencer Blauw, DeVar Jones, Dominic Spadafore and Aaron Rice will find plenty of room to run behind an offensive line that returns all five starters.

The Mariners defense figures to resemble last year’s unit. Linebacker Josh Woodburn (65 total tackles) and defensive back Patrick Keyes (60) are captains who will key a unit that allowed 22.4 points per game.

Kicker Jake McDonough and punter Erik Swayne also return.

USMMA — playing in its final season in the Liberty League — opens its schedule on the road against Coast Guard on Sept. 10.


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