Dobbs gives Midshipmen quarterback conundrum

Backup's stellar performance could leave Navy with tough choice

Navy Rewind

October 27, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

The premonition came last week. With the local media focused on stirring another Navy quarterback debate, this time between senior Jarod Bryant and sophomore Ricky Dobbs, offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper told his wife he envisioned something dramatic happening in Saturday's game against Southern Methodist.

"With all that's going on, I told her, 'It wouldn't surprise me if Jarod gets hurt, Ricky comes in and has a great game,' " Jasper recalled after that exact scenario played out in Navy's 34-7 victory in Annapolis. "The kid's going to be a great player, but he's not ready. He played a great game. My worst nightmare, but you know what? I'm happy for him."

Now comes the predicament. What should the Midshipmen do this week regarding their quarterback situation? If Bryant can play with a mildly sprained shoulder, as he tried to do after first getting hurt against the Mustangs, should coach Ken Niumatalolo move him back into the starting lineup against Temple?

Or should Dobbs be given his first career start and see whether he can back up his 42-carry, 224-yard, four-touchdown coming-out party?

That is the problem Niumatalolo faces going into practice this week. With Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada expected to remain sidelined with his injured hamstring, should he and Jasper see whether Dobbs can give them a more dynamic presence at quarterback than Bryant, a tough competitor who was prone to fumbling (eight this year) and not always making the right reads in the triple option?

A longtime Navy fan made a suggestion last week before Bryant got hurt and Dobbs excelled, albeit against one of the worst defensive teams in the country. If Bryant is healthy enough to play, why not return him to slotback, where he was expected to start this season alongside Shun White, and give Navy another dangerous inside runner, with Dobbs at quarterback?

Replay

From White breaking a 23-yard run on Navy's first possession to Dobbs becoming the first Navy quarterback in seven years to go over 200 yards rushing, everything went right for the Midshipmen on offense. The defense also was pretty stout, holding SMU to minus-13 yards rushing and only 157 passing from a quarterback, freshman Bo Levi Mitchell, averaging more than 300 a game coming in. Jeff Deliz had one interception and should have been given two.

Erase

There's not much, if anything, the Midshipmen want to forget about Saturday's game. Perhaps the only thing anyone can second guess is Niumatalolo's decision to put Bryant back into the game after he was injured the first time, with his team ahead 20-0 and Dobbs already starting to dominate. The other negative for the fans was the miserable weather, with most leaving at halftime.

Fast forward

At 5-3, the Midshipmen can become bowl-eligible and lock up their spot in the Dec. 20 EagleBank Bowl by winning Saturday against Temple (2-5). The Owls are almost the exact opposite of SMU, ranked 118th of 119 in overall offense, 115th in scoring offense but 61st in overall defense and 25th in scoring defense.

TEMPLE @NAVY

Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

TV: CBS College Sports Network

Radio: 1090 AM

Line: Navy by 7 1/2

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