Maybe there were some questions about Navy's new outside linebackers entering the season. The Midshipmen had two new starters, and games against Maryland and Georgia Southern did little to provide a good read on the position.
Then came Aaron McCauley's 14-tackle performance against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 18.
It wasn't just the hits, but also the ability to get off blocks and deal with a frustrating spread offense.
"Mac played really well," defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. "I can't remember in a long time an outside backer playing any better."
Not bad for a guy confined to special teams for his first few seasons with the Mids (2-1), who visit Air Force (3-1) on Saturday.
Navy wasn't exactly hurting for outside linebackers the last few seasons. Ram Vela, Craig Schaefer and Clint Sovie all played prominent roles for the Mids, with Schaefer leading the team in sacks in 2009 and Vela finding himself in the middle of several notable plays throughout his career.
And so McCauley waited.
"The first two years, I knew my situation coming in," McCauley said. "I understood what was going on. There were experienced guys in front of me. I said to myself 'I'm going to learn as much as I can and then eventually when my time is here, I'm not going to let anybody down.' I've been practicing the same stuff as the starters have been for two years."
Maybe that wasn't fully obvious in the first couple games. Maryland didn't run outside too much, all too happy to gash the Mids up the middle in the rare instances it had the ball.
Louisiana Tech was the next major-college test, and McCauley was particularly effective. He nearly doubled his career tackle total in one game (he had 17 coming in) while providing a fundamentally sound performance.
"[He's] just playing solid football, being where he's supposed to be and making plays," coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Last week, Louisiana Tech tried to throw some bubble screens and he played very physical against the blocks and he made some plays in the backfield. He's just playing solid, playing with confidence and playing like a veteran right now."
And that comes as no surprise to those who have watched him for more than a few games.
"He was making plays a lot of people probably thought he couldn't make," safety Wyatt Middleton said. "That's really good. Personally, I'm not really shocked he played that well because I know he can play and he has a great amount of talent. He's finally getting his chance right now."
The greatest question for Niumatalolo was determining whether McCauley could translate his play from the practice field to the stadium.
Some guys can pull that off. Some can't.
McCauley, Niumatalolo said, looks exactly the same in both settings.
"Wyatt always talks about envisioning," McCauley said. "I always envision myself playing --- a lot. I was always so excited to go out to play. Out here, you practice on the field and want to convert it to the game. I have so much practice and so many reps, I felt comfortable."
So comfortable, in fact, he doesn't plan on giving up his spot anytime soon.
"Playing the whole course of the game is great," McCauley said. "Having that feeling back. I love it. I love starting the game. I love finishing the game. I love it all. Having these first three games go pretty well, it's been a lot of fun."