Interview: Ken Niumatalolo

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo can't wait to get on the field for spring practices. Well, good news coach, only a week to go until the Midshipmen hit the field for drills. Navy starts preparation to defend the CIC Trophy, once again, on March 24.

"You can only do x's and o's, x's and o's for so long," Niumatalolo said. "It's time to see what happens when we put on the pads." Preparing for his first spring session as head coach, Niumatalolo took some time to speak with How exciting is it preparing for spring practice as head coach?
Ken Niumatalolo: Well, remember, a lot of the stuff we are running is the same as before. But I think it's just exciting to do some football work, some conditioning. We've been meeting as coaches, scheming in dark rooms. After a while, that gets old. It will be nice to get in the sun on the field and play some football.

GM: Do you have any specific goals you want the team to accomplish during spring drills?
KN: No, just try get better. Like anybody else, we have some things we want to try to get done. Offensively, defensively, we only have 15 opportunities to get on the field. No matter what position, starter, second-stringer, we want the team to get better.

GM: Can you tell us about any key position battles we can expect during spring drills?
KN: I'm trying to find a center, losing Antron (Harper) was tough, he was an integral part for us up front. I'm going to move some guys and give them a look. Andy Lark has been moved from nose guard and Ricky Moore from tackle. Obviously, that is a big position for us. Going back (to the last question), that is one of our bigger goals in spring.

GM: Is Kaipo Kaheaku-Enhada the man at QB or does Jarod Bryant have a shot?
KN: Kaipo is the quarterback and we hope nothing ever happens to him, but we are very confident in Jarod if anything ever did. Kaipo is our guy, he's proven that the last few years. It's a hard deal when you have two quarterback's as good as Kaipo and Jarod. But we will find a way to get Jarod on the field, maybe as a punt returner or at (slot) back. He has too much talent to be on the bench.

GM: Speaking of offense, Reggie Campbell has graduated, but we know you still have a lot of talented options at slot back. How do you expect that position to shake out?
KN: We are counting on Shun White to have a huge year. He's been overshadowed by Reggie and Zerb (Singleton), but when he touches the ball, great things happen. We are also looking at Bobby Doyle, we have moved Emmett Merchant from defensive back, there are some other guys, too. Jarod will be one of the guys, we, basically, want to have four guys back there.

GM: Are you concerned with the defense, which, at times, struggled last season?
KN: I think our defense will come back and redeem themselves. Obviously, they didn't play well, but they had a young team and we lost (linebacker) Clint Sovie and (safety) Jeff (Deliz) in the second game of the season. They were playing phenomenal. We had some growing pains, but I think we finished off well against Army, I thought the guys matured and tried to step up. In my six years, we have had a pretty good defense, and I think that will be the case again.

GM: Are there any players that could have breakout spring camps who aren't on the radar right now?
KN: I don't know if I want to answer that (laughs). I don't want to jinx anyone. There are a lot of guys who look good running around in shorts. But, as you know, football isn't played in shorts. I think (sophomore fullback) Devan Clark could emerge as a back-up for Eric Kettani. Even though people know who Clint (Sovie) is, I'm looking forward to seeing him and (linebacker) Ram Vela.

GM: One last thing. It's a fill in the blank. At the end of spring practice, Navy will: KN: Be better than day one, that's our goal. Top Stories