Kicking Game Is Up In Air

Navy Notebook

Graduation Of Seniors Leaves Big Shoes To Fill

August 16, 2009|By Camille Powell | Camille Powell,The Washington Post

At the end of practice on most days, Navy sophomore kicker Jon Teague lines up for a pair of field goals as the rest of his teammates gather around and scream.

"It may not seem like the ideal conditions, but that's exactly what I want. It's going to be multiplied by 1,000 once we get into the Horseshoe," Teague said last week in reference to the the season opener at Ohio State on Sept. 5. "Anything that's game-like, I want them to re-create that."

Teague is taking part in what is a wide-open competition for kicking duties, along with junior Joe Buckley and freshman Scott Blasinsky. It is one of the key jobs that the Midshipmen need to fill before opening the season.

"We have a lot of work to do in the kicking department," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "It has been inconsistent, and it is a major concern for us this camp. ... We are going to kick every day, and hopefully when we get to within two weeks of the Ohio State game, we will know."

The Midshipmen had full confidence in their kicking game last season, thanks to three seniors who have since graduated: kicker Matt Harmon, a three-year starter who set a program record with 19 field goals (out of 22 attempts) in 2008; holder Jarod Bryant; and long snapper Scott Reider.

Teague, who is known for his strong leg, handled kickoffs last year but didn't try a field goal or extra point. Blasinsky has been impressive so far at practice. Senior slotback Bobby Doyle is Teague's holder, and senior quarterback Greg Zingler (Severna Park) is holding for Buckley. Junior Thanassi Varvoutis is listed as the top long snapper.

"One of the hardest things we all encountered, me especially, was getting comfortable with the snap and hold. It's a whole lot different than practicing with the ball just sitting there," Teague said. "It just takes some time. Once you get comfortable with the holder, it gets a whole lot easier. ... Harmon was a really good kicker, and one thing that helped him was Jarod Bryant was his holder for four years."

Walsh vows return

Senior defensive end Mike Walsh, who missed the final nine games last season with a toe injury, has rejoined the team and has vowed that he will be back on the field soon.

Walsh had surgery last year to repair a plantar plate rupture - which he described as "a really bad case of turf toe" - and Navy's trainers had been massaging the scar tissue in his right foot. When the scar tissue broke up, it caused soreness and swelling, and he is being held out of practice as a precaution.

Walsh withdrew from school last year to rehabilitate, and he gained an extra season of eligibility.

"When they told me I could redshirt and come back next year, I said yes. They told me to think about it, but I told them I didn't need to," said Walsh, who tied for the team lead in sacks as a junior in 2007. Getting a chance to play at Ohio State "was a big factor. These guys are the No. 1 factor, but I guess Ohio State was No. 2.

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