Navy QBs missing

defense is a hit

Blue-Gold scrimmage showcases unit's spring improvement

College Football

April 22, 2007|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Reporter

With two of the top three on the depth chart sidelined by injuries, Navy dressed its remaining two quarterbacks in red jerseys for its annual Blue-Gold spring football game yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

That is a signal to the defensive units to avoid contact with those players, but the game had hardly begun when Jarod Bryant and Greg Zingler were being flung to the ground by young and eager defenders battling for jobs on a wide-open unit.

"The quarterbacks [starter Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and Troy Goss] are banged up a little and we wanted to play through the first half at least, so we didn't have to stop the game," coach Paul Johnson said. "But it wasn't working. They were getting tackled anyway. It's hard for our guys not to do that."

Whether the low-scoring, 10-7 victory by the Blue is a reflection of the missing quarterbacks or vast improvement by the fledging defense remains to be seen. Johnson isn't placing too much emphasis on either at this point.

"I don't know that you can take a whole lot out of this game. It's just fun," he said. "But [Eric] Kettani and Adam [Ballard] ran the ball hard and the defense flew around and made some plays," he said. "There were a lot of dropped balls [that could have held down the score]."

With Bryant at the controls, the Blue scored all its points in the second quarter to seize a 10-0 halftime lead. A drive that started on its 4-yard line culminated in Matt Harmon's 43-yard field goal, and, just before the break, one of four interceptions charged to Zingler (Severna Park) set up the Blue touchdown.

On the next play from the Gold 35, Bryant fired a strike to Zerbin Singleton for the score and Harmon followed with the extra point.

Two interceptions by sophomore Darius Terry thwarted two first-half Gold drives.

"I was fortunate to get them because I was out there," Terry said. "Anybody on our team would have got them."

Since a month ago, when Johnson was displeased with the defense, Terry believes his unit "has jelled a little bit. We made a bunch of mistakes earlier, most of them mental, but we've come on. There is a little extra motivation because no position is set in stone. Everyone has a chance."

Defensive coordinator Buddy Green said: "We were really looking for almost a whole new crew and I think we've gotten better at certain positions. In the last 14 days, I think we've seen some progress. You're looking for cohesiveness to come before your first game. In the spring, you're looking for leaders and guys running to the ball."

Said Johnson, who is a neutral observer at this game: "Compared with the first two scrimmages, they played good. We've got a ways to go. Nobody's going to confuse us with the Pittsburgh Steelers."

With Goss still nursing the effects of a concussion and Kaheaku-Enhada a shoulder injury, Bryant was clearly the dominant quarterback, completing nine of 15 passes for 135 yards and running for 64 net yards. Fullbacks Kettani (72 yards), Ballard (31) and Kevin Campbell (36) churned out the tough yardages.

"We didn't turn the ball over," Bryant said. "And I got a little more comfortable with running the option."

Note -- Offensive tackle Paul Bridgers was chosen as winner of the Vice Admiral William P. Mack Award, given to the player judged the most improved during spring drills. Bridgers, a senior from Gaithersburg, is the second straight offensive tackle (Andrew McGinn in 2006) to capture the honor. He played in three games last fall and is now vying for a starting position.kent.baker@baltsun.com

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