Finnerty ready for action

Junior slot back and Ventura, Calif. native Cory Finnerty has yet to play a down for the Navy football team. However, there is a pretty good chance that will change when the Midshipmen host the Towson Tigers on Aug. 30 in the season opener for both teams. Finnerty has rocketed up the depth chart and is currently listed as a starter opposite fellow slot back, senior Shun White. Is he ready?

Cory Finnerty traveled with the Mids for last year's Army game and for the Poinsettia Bowl that followed. However, he didn't play in either game, and his name was nowhere to be found on the depth chart last season. Entering spring practice in March, Finnerty still wasn't listed on the depth chart. In fact, there were seven other players ahead of him. So at best, in March, Finnerty was the eighth best slot back according to the Navy coaching staff. The seven better performing slot backs in March were Shun White, Greg Jones, Greg Shinego, Andre Byrd, Bobby Doyle, Emmett Merchant, and Jarod Bryant.

However, a rash of injuries and a few position changes opened up an opportunity for Finnerty and by the end of the spring he made his debut on the depth chart. He was listed on the third team behind Byrd and Shinego.

Since fall camp began three weeks ago, Byrd and Shinego have both gone down with injuries which have propelled Finnerty all the way up to a starter – something he never in his wildest dreams expected at the end of last season.

"There was no indication at all [at the end of last season], to be honest that I'd be where I am now," said Finnerty. "However with the new coach and a clean slate, I kept working hard and a couple guys got injured. I got the opportunity to show [the coaches] what I got and so far I've been keeping up with hard work and staying on top of the depth chart."

The new coach Finnerty is referring to is first-year slot back coach Joe DuPaix. The former Cal Poly offensive coordinator was brought in to replace Jeff Monken who followed Paul Johnson to Georgia Tech.

According to Finnerty, the transition from DuPaix to Monken has been a "smooth" one.

"He's a little more easy-going than Coach Monken – maybe a little more approachable. He's a really great coach, and I respect him a lot…and I don't want to let him down. He really makes the players want to work for him."

The aspiring naval pilot said that one of the areas DuPaix has concentrated on more than his predecessor is with something called the hammer plant.

"It's when we change directions. It's a different technique to try and change directions quicker. [Coach DuPaix] has really emphasized the hammer plant."

Even though Finnerty has made quite the impression on the coaching staff, there has been no hiding the fact during the team's first two scrimmages that the defense has been knocking around the Navy offense pretty well. In fact, Navy's offense failed to score a touchdown in the most recent scrimmage – something Finnerty hopes to change this Friday.

"I hope we [score]. We have a long way to go, but we just have to keep working hard."

As for the reason for the offense's slow start, Finnerty believes the new players need to start working better as a unit.

"It does seems like we are a little behind the defense, and it's really obvious. And Coach Jasper pointed out to us after the last practice…he sat us down and let us know that we haven't arrived yet and we need to pick it up," said Finnerty.

"I think it's just with all the new faces [on offense] and with all the people being injured, we are just trying to find our click, and get everything going together. We are trying to get it done as fast as possible," continued Finnerty.

And while the junior slot back attempts to get things going, he knows that the competition for the starting position is about to pick-up a bit as both Andre Byrd and Corey James are due back to full-time practice any day now. However, Finnerty left no doubt that running out on the field for the first series against Towson would be a big deal for him.

"It would mean the world. Just being on the field and being able to put all my hard work to use to help out the team as much as I can."

One person, who will be thrilled if Finnerty plays in the first game, is his father, Tom.

"My dad really stays on top of [Navy football]. He's always checking out the depth chart," said Finnerty. He gives me a call whenever there is a change. He lets me know where I stand."

"When there is a game going on, and he is at it, his voice is pretty much the only one I can hear in the stands," continued Finnerty.

Finnerty says that his parents plan on going to the Air Force game, but as for the opener against Towson, his dad has already told him that he plans to watch the game alone because he is so nervous.

Turns out his dad won't be the only one who is nervous. Finnerty said that initial snap will definitely bring some butterflies for him.

"The first play of the first game is always the most nervous for me, but after that the jitters go away."

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