By Gary Lambrecht
By Justin Mears
The two teams enter the game undefeated for the first time ever
Sophomore linebacker from Nokesville, Va.
Sophomore offensive tackle from Fredericksburg, Va.
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Dale Pehrson is in his 21st season at the Naval Academy and his second as the defensive coordinator. Pehrson has coached both the defensive line and the secondary as a position coach in his time at the Academy.
Pehrson has been an integral part of a staff that has brought the Midshipmen back into the national spotlight with a 111-56 (.665) record over the last 13 years, that includes 12 bowl games, 10 Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies and a 14-0 mark against Army.
Navy finished the 2015 campaign with a school-record 11 wins against just two losses, qualified for a bowl game for the 12th time in the last 13 years, won a bowl game for the 10th time in school history (beat Pittsburgh, 44-28, in the Military Bowl), won a bowl game for a third straight year for the first time in school history, defeated Army for a series-record 14th consecutive year, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the third time in the last four years, won the Lambert Trophy as the best team in the East for the first time since 1963, finished 18th in the country in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls and shared the West Division title of the American Athletic Conference with Houston in Navy’s first year of being in a conference after being an Independent for 134 years.
As a team, the defense finished 32nd in rushing defense (143.0), 40th in total defense (364.9), 26th in scoring defense (21.8), 12th in Red Zone defense (.737), 13th in turnovers gained (27), first in fumbles recovered (15), third in turnover margin (+1.46), first in fewest penalties per game (3.1) and first in fewest penalty yards per game (26.1).
Navy finished the 2014 campaign with an 8-5 record, qualified for a bowl game for the 11th time in the last 12 years, won a bowl game for just the ninth time in school history (beat San Diego State, 17-16, in the Poinsettia Bowl), won a bowl game in back-to-back years for the second time in school history and defeated Army for a series-record 13th consecutive year.
The Navy defense finished 32nd in pass defense, 37th in interceptions and 38th in the country in red zone defense in 2014.
Navy finished the 2013 campaign with a 9-4 record, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the ninth time in the last 11 years, qualified for a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 11 years, won a bowl game for just the eighth time in school history (beat Middle Tennessee, 24-6, in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl) and defeated Army for a series-record 12th consecutive year. The 2013 squad is just the fifth in Navy history to win at least nine games in a season, beat Army and win a bowl game. The 1957, 1978, 2004 and 2009 teams also achieved that feat.
The Navy defense held eight of its 13 opponents below their scoring average for the season. Navy opponents averaged 29.9 points on the year, but just 24.4 points against the Mids. They finished 27th in the country in red zone defense and 40th in scoring defense and pass defense.
Pehrson helped lead Navy to an 8-5 record in 2012 and a berth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Navy defeated Air Force, 28-21, in overtime and Army, 17-13, to win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.
Navy was an impressive 9-4 record in 2010, defeated Army for a series-record ninth-consecutive time, defeated Notre Dame in consecutive seasons for only the third time in school history and appeared in a school-record eighth-consecutive bowl game.
The 2009 season was one to remember, as the Mids tied a school record for wins with 10, won a school-record seventh-consecutive Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, appeared in a seventh-consecutive bowl game and ran its winning streak against the other two Service Academies to an amazing 15-straight games. The Mids capped the season off with a 35-13 rout of Missouri in the Texas Bowl.
The Mids went 8-5 in 2008 and participated in the EagleBank Bowl. The Mids won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy thanks to a 33-27 victory over Air Force and a 34-0 win over Army.
The 2007 season was a memorable one as well as the Midshipmen posted an 8-5 record, won a fifth-consecutive Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, appeared in a fifth-straight bowl game, and defeated Notre Dame for the first time since 1963.
The Mids received solid contributions from the defensive line in 2006 as the Mids won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy and played in a fourth-straight bowl game.
Pehrson was part of a staff that did a remarkable job in 2005 with a defense that returned just three starters from the year before as they won a second-straight bowl game and a third-straight Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.
In 2004, Pehrson’s efforts helped Navy win a school-record tying 10 games (the most wins since 1905), win the Emerald Bowl and win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.
In 2003, Pehrson was part of a defensive staff that saw great improvement on the defensive side of the football as the Mids posted an 8-5 record, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy and played in the Houston Bowl.
In 1999, Pehrson helped develop a defensive line into a big-play unit, recording 17 sacks and recovering six fumbles. Defensive end Gino Marchetti recovered a nation’s-best five fumbles.
In 1997, Pehrson’s troops contributed to the Mids ranking sixth in the country in turnover margin, as the safeties came up with 11 of Navy’s 14 interceptions.
Pehrson came to the Naval Academy from Southern Utah, where he was an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for five years.
Prior to his tenure at Southern Utah, Pehrson was on the staff at Missouri Western State College, where he served in various capacities, including assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. He was head football coach and an assistant coach in wrestling and track at Murray High School in Salt Lake City.
Pehrson is a native of Salt Lake City and earned all-state honors at Murray High School. He attended Utah where he was a two-year letterman as a defensive back. Pehrson earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Utah in 1976 and received a master’s degree from Brigham Young in 1985. He and his wife, the former Marty Grant, have two children, Preston, who is the assistant recruiting coordinator for the Navy Football program, and Jaci.