JASPER: Bryant ready; Dobbs not yet

It's looking more likely that Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada will not start against Air Force. If that occurs, Jarod Bryant will make his third start of the season. But what if Bryant struggles against the Falcons? Would Navy coach Ivin Jasper look to Ricky Dobbs for a change of pace? Did Dobbs show enough against Towson for Jasper to feel confident calling on him? The answer: not yet.

Reports out of Annapolis indicate that Kaipo is still not running in practice and that he is questionable at best to start this Saturday in Colorado Springs against Air Force. That's not good news for Navy fans hoping to watch their team extend its winning streak to six against its service academy rival.

In the event Kaipo can not go, senior co-captain Jarod Bryant would get the start and according to Navy's offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper, he's confident the Hoover, Ala. native can get the job done.

"I think Jarod's going to do a great job if he is the guy this weekend," Jasper told GoMids.com on Wednesday.

Even though Jasper seemed completely confident in Bryant's abilities, there is no hiding the fact that he has struggled at times in leading the Mids.  With Bryant under center, the Navy offense only managed 34 yards and one first down on its first four drives to start the second half against Wake Forest.

Jasper said that it wouldn't be fair to blame Bryant for the offense's slow start in the second half because penalties and missed assignments by other players contributed to the unit's poor execution. 

But if Bryant does struggle against Air Force and the Navy offense is sputtering, would Navy's offensive coordinator think about changing things up by putting sophomore Ricky Dobbs behind center?  Is there a big drop-off from Bryant to Dobbs?

"Oh yeah, without a doubt - [Dobbs] is way off," said Bryant.  "He still makes the little mistakes.  He's getting a lot of reps [in practice but] from a mental standpoint – from a trust standpoint, he is a way's off."

But what about Dobbs' performance against Towson when he led the Mids second-team offense on an 11-play, 76-yard drive with 56 of those yards being provided by the sophomore signal caller?  Didn't that impress Jasper?

"Don't get me wrong, he has the tools.  [But] I have always stressed playing smart football and taking care of the ball.  Right now, I just don't feel like Ricky is there.  Now, if I can get him in a game [like Towson]; I'd love to do it to get him the experience.  He has a very bright future, and I am not down on the kid at all, but just mentally he's just not where I want him to be."

Another popular question amongst Navy fans revolves around the slot back position.  In the past it has been a staple of the offense to have several a-backs contribute to the success of the rushing attack. Last season three slot backs rushed for over 500 yards apiece: Shun White (78 carries for 633 yards); Reggie Campbell (71 carries for 534 yards); and Zerbin Singleton (67 carries for 506 yards).

This season Shun White has 62 more carries (74) than the next three slot backs (Bobby Doyle, Greg Shinego, and Cory Finnerty) combined (12).  However, if you look at the yard per rush average, the three slot backs not named Shun are averaging 10.41 yards per rush compared with White's 9.36 per rush total.

"It's not so much that we planned to get Shun all the carries but it sort of worked out that way," said first-year slot backs coach Joe DuPaix. "But Bobby Doyle had a great run for us this past Saturday, and we are confident in the other a-backs. There is no reservation at all to see Greg Shinego or [Cory] Finnerty or [Bobby] Doyle carrying the ball." 

However, DuPaix readily admits that White is a special player with unique abilities.

"He has the flat out most speed.  If the ball is in his hands, in open space there is a great chance he could score a touchdown," said DuPaix.  He has a little bit more of that then the other three do."  

Jasper added that, just like with Reggie Campbell last year, the coaching staff is always looking for ways to involve White in the offensive attack.

"If the defense is keying on him and limiting his touches, you have to find another way to get him the football.  That's our job as a staff…to go into our laboratory and think about things like that."

If White carries the ball five times against Air Force, he will surpass last year's career-high for rushes.  So is his coach concerned about his durability?

"Shun is a freak of nature.  He did such a great job in the off-season that no, he is not wearing down.  Even after a game – we come back on Monday and condition with the team and he will be the leader – he will win most races and this is after he has played a full game on Saturday," said DuPaix.

And while durability does not seem to be an issue, predictability in play-calling is always on Jasper's mind.

"We have to make sure that our offense doesn't become predictable so we have to mix some other guys in there [at slot back]. Now of course they don't have the speed that Shun has, but I'll take ten yards anyway I can get it," said Jasper.


Jasper on the good part of beating Wake Forest:

"To go out and win a game of that magnitude for this program – to beat a team that is highly ranked was pretty emotional.  I'm just so happy for the players.  We came close against Maryland, Boston College – so many games like that…a chance to beat a BCS team and we just didn't get it done.  It's a big win for the program."

Jasper on the ‘bad' part of beating Wake Forest:

"The only bad thing about it, honestly, this game [against Air Force] is way bigger than that one.  Coaching here you see how big your rivalry games are.  We are probably one of a few schools that have true-true rivalries.  I was back home Saturday night and I was sitting there with my wife, and I was thinking about the Air Force game already.  We can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows real fast."

Jasper on when it hit him, the magnitude of the win over the Demon Deacons:

"I'm just pacing around in the box.  At that moment during the timeout, trying to figure out what play to call to help us get a first down [with 1:08 left in the game].  And when we did [to put the game away] it started to sink in."

Jasper on keeping in touch with Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson:

"I talk to him once a week.  Just to see how things are going - just checking up on each other.  He's excited for us.  After the [Wake Forest] game, he sent me a text-message saying: ‘Great win, great job.'  He's definitely behind us."

Jasper on Coach Johnson knowing how to send a text-message:

"Yeah, I guess he figured it out. Either that or his daughter is doing it for him."

DuPaix on what has surprised him in his first year at Navy:

"We need to be exactly right in what we do from an assignment standpoint to have success.  The level of competition that we are playing every week and the skill level that other teams have require us to be exact in our assignments."

DuPaix on watching his alma mater play Air Force on film:

"It's kind of fun to see the Southern Utah stuff, but at the same time all of my focus and energy is in what we need to do to play against Air Force.  So I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about or reminiscing about what could have or might have been.  There is one goal and that is to focus on the Falcons."

DuPaix [former option quarterback in college] on whether or not he would be good enough to start in Navy's offense:

"You would have to go ask somebody else.  I'd like to say yes but maybe that's me growing older and thinking I was better than I actually was."

DuPaix on Andre Byrd's status:

"He's coming along.  He was banged up earlier and it's just a matter of getting himself back into overall complete playing shape.  It's a long season and he's the fifth a-back.  He did get in the game against Rutgers.  He's working his way back into the mix.  I'm grateful to have up to 7 guys that I feel good about that we could play and [help us] move the ball."

DuPaix on looking forward to Saturday's match-up at Air Force:

"It's a little bit like Christmas morning for me every Saturday and to just be a part of this storied program with such tradition.  And to play Air Force - it just adds a little spark to that."


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