Jasper is a Man with a Plan

Arguably no Navy coach will be under more scrutiny this season than Ivin Jasper who will be entering his first full-year as the Mids' offensive coordinator. The task to keep Navy's offense rolling falls squarely on his shoulders –a responsibility and a challenge he embraces. One of Jasper's initial priorities is implementing a plan to get senior Jarod Bryant on the field more often.

Former Navy coach Paul Johnson wanted Ivin Jasper to follow him to Georgia Tech to help him instruct the quarterbacks.  And in the past, when Johnson made a coaching offer to Jasper, the decision for the Los Angeles native wasn't nearly as difficult as it was this time.  In fact, Jasper calls the 48 hours following Johnson's decision to take the Georgia Tech job, "the toughest two days of my life."


"It was like telling your dad that you didn't want to play football [and] that you wanted to play the piano – something you knew that was going to upset him.  I felt like I was 18 years old all over again," said Jasper.


In retrospect, Jasper admits that he did not handle the situation as well as he could have, specifically regarding how long it took him to tell Johnson what he was thinking.


"[It's like wanting] to tell your parents [something difficult], and you put it off, and you put it off.  You keep putting it off, and then you finally tell them.  It's not too late but you could have done it earlier, to make it easier.  And I could have done that.  I could have at least let him know that I was thinking of staying.  It was rough." 


Jasper believes his decision may have caught Johnson by surprise to some degree.


"Part of him was [surprised] I think. It just came down to the opportunity I had here [at Navy].  I wanted to be a coordinator, but the decision was hard because I had been with [Johnson] since I was 18 years old." 


"But I wanted to see if I could do this on my own," continued Jasper.  "I wanted to see if I could put a product together out there on the field…and then watch it grow."


Jasper got somewhat of a trial by fire as the Mids' offensive coordinator last December as he was promoted to the position and given less than two weeks to prepare a Utah defense that was allowing only 15.6 points a game. 


According to Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, there was a lot of information being passed through the headsets during the Poinsettia Bowl, and a lot of it was directed at Jasper. 


"The game happens so fast.  You can't give a guy ten suggestions in .5 seconds and try to get him to decipher all of that.  We're going to do some things differently from that standpoint.  There won't be too many people talking…from the headset standpoint…so [offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper] can think," said Niumatalolo.


Jasper said he was able to do his job despite the communication overload.


"There were some suggestions but at the same time as a coordinator you have to learn to block [some of] that stuff out.  You have to think one to two plays ahead.  There were a lot of suggestions but it didn't bother me at all.  The main thing was just trying to figure out how to move the ball against [Utah].  They were pretty good on defense."


Navy wound up losing the game, but the team put up 32 points against the Utes and amassed 438 yards of total offense.  Jasper was impressed with the Navy's effort, but he does have one regret in regard to his play-calling. 


"We had a good game plan.  The only thing I could look back on as far as what I would have done is really make them defend the fullback more.  Eric popped a few plays out of there but we should have run it a lot more.  But that's in the past."


Also in the rearview mirror are the days of seeing Navy's offensive coordinator without a cheat sheet to help decide what plays to call.  Paul Johnson never carried one and in an interview with his daughter Kaitlyn last fall, she remarked at how her dad would make fun of coaches who relied on a huge spreadsheet on the sideline.


Don't worry Navy fans, Jasper won't be referencing a massive call sheet from his perch in the press box, but he will have something to help him out.


"I might have a little play sheet because I did as a quarterback coach.  I will have my little notes next to me up in the [press] box," said Jasper.


"I kind of put June Jones and Paul Johnson in the same category; they don't need a call sheet.  Everything is [in their head].  They know their systems and they have seen all the ways people will defend them.  For me, it's the same way.  I don't see [that I will] overload myself with a bunch of color-coded sheets.  We have a set number of plays that we are going to run.  If I have a big play sheet in front of me, something is wrong…we are [trying to] do too much.  I look at it that way."     


Regardless of what Jasper will be referring to during the games, he expects very little to change when it comes to directing the offense.


"There is a lot of [Johnson] that will be in me as far as calling plays.  It's basically just watching the game and finding out real quick what they are doing on defense.  It will be a little bit different but it will be a lot of what he did.  Hopefully I can do the same thing because the man got results."


One player Jasper will be looking to this fall to help Navy succeed on offense will be Jarod Bryant.  For the past two seasons, Bryant has served as the back-up quarterback to Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but this season Jasper is looking to get him more involved with the offense – make that much more involved. 


"He's going to play A-back…that's the main thing.  The kid is probably the best with the football in his hands…he's probably at the top of the list.  He has great feet.  He's not a straight-ahead burner but the kid's really good with the football in his hands.  I can see him being in the mix [as a starter] at A-back."


And that's not all.  Jasper confirmed what Niumatalolo announced at Monday's media luncheon about the Hoover native getting a long look on special teams as well.


"And we did talk about him doing punt returning, but I want him to focus on playing A-back." 


If Bryant is looking for some firsthand advice on how to play at both at the slot (or A-back) position as well as being the back-up quarterback, he does not have to wander too far.


"I did it when I was playing [at Hawaii]," said Jasper.  I still went to the quarterback meetings and I expect the same thing of Jarod.  But the main thing is to get him on the field with his talent and not have the kid sit on the bench and watch his senior year.  You try to get your best 11 on the football field and he is definitely one of our better football players."


The idea of putting Bryant at slot back is not a new concept.  As a matter of fact, he lined up there last spring.


"He was there for a couple of days and looked great.  He runs great routes and he has great feet.  He's going to get a lot of looks at A-back.  We want to get him where he can help us."


Jasper admits that the possibility of putting his back-up quarterback in the line of fire at slot back and potentially even as a punt return specialist makes him nervous.  However, his number one concern is keeping Kaipo healthy – something that was difficult to do in 2007.


"Ever since I've been in this offense we have never lost a quarterback that many times in a season.  That's been a concern.  Can we count on him being healthy?  Because when he is on his game, when he is feeling good – he is pretty good running the offense.  Now he is not as good as Jarod with the ball in his hands, but as far as running the offense and directing everything, [Kaipo] is a pretty good football player."


Jasper said that Kaipo is showing no ill-effects from his right new scoped and he expects the quarterback to take some hits towards the end of the spring.


With Kaipo rehabbing and Bryant seeing a lot of time at slot back, that leaves a lot of time behind center this spring for the much-hyped sophomore Ricky Dobbs.


Jasper confirmed that the ‘Bryant Plan' includes getting Dobbs more opportunities to showcase his talents.


"We have a good plan for Jarod this spring.  I don't want to throw him at A-back and just say, ‘go there and block somebody.'  He's got to get out there and work on it.  [And] when Jarod is at A-back, Ricky will get all of his reps," said Jasper. 


And although Jasper said he is looking forward to seeing what Dobbs has to offer, he wasn't ready to put him on the Heisman Watch List just yet.


"The jury is still out on Ricky, but as far as the intangibles that he needs to have…quickness…a strong arm…the potential is there.  [Now] he's going to need to show us something.  I'm looking forward to that."


And while Dobbs is likely a year away from emerging from the large shadow cast by Kaipo and Bryant, Jasper is ready now to emerge from the one left by his long-time mentor, Paul Johnson.


"This is a bottom-line profession and you have to go out and win games.  Nobody is going to pat you on the back for losing a game by one point.  I understand that part of it and that's what my job is all about.  My job is to put a good product out on the football field and hopefully we can win enough games to keep this thing going…and keep everybody happy.  This is our deal now."



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