Many In The Running For Job At Slotback

Navy Football

August 25, 2009|By Camille Powell | Camille Powell,The Washington Post

Navy senior Bobby Doyle knows that every time he and his fellow slotbacks take the practice field, their performances are being analyzed and graded. The competition at the position this fall is tight.

"If you have a bad day and you don't push through it, potentially you could lose your spot," said Doyle, Navy's most experienced slotback. "That's one thing that [slotbacks coach Joe DuPaix] tells us: We compete day to day, week to week."

Unlike the previous three seasons - when the Midshipmen relied heavily on Reggie Campbell and Shun White, a pair of speedsters - Navy does not have one clear-cut standout at slotback. Said Doyle: "We're very similar. We're very consistent."

Doyle is the most experienced, with 20 career carries for 187 yards. Senior Cory Finnerty is a strong blocker who had eight carries for 71 yards for the season and scored a touchdown against Notre Dame.

Nine players have appeared on the depth chart thus far, including a converted quarterback (sophomore Mike Stukel) and two freshmen (Gee Gee Greene and Bo Snelson). Sophomore Marcus Curry entered the preseason as one of the starters, but he missed the first two weeks of practice after being hospitalized with an illness. He was back this week. Andre Byrd, a 5-foot-7 junior, battled injuries last season but has shown promise.

"We feel confident in all those guys, but we really won't know who the starters are until game time," coach Ken Niumatalolo said.

Greene and Snelson have been a pleasant surprise.

"They've got good hands, they're tough, they can move," Niumatalolo said. "I think some of the other young A-backs are going to be good down the road, but they've just seemed to pick things up quicker than those other guys."

Ohio State preparations

With Navy's season-opening visit to Ohio State fast approaching, the Mids are being thorough in their preparations. As the first- and second-string units faced the scout teams toward the end of practice last week, a recording of the Ohio Stadium crowd during a third-down play was blasted over the speakers.

"It was a little obnoxious at first. Then we started getting used to it," junior nose guard Chase Burge said. "We were basically looking for hand signals and trying to read lips."

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