Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper isn't really known (at least not by me) to throw around compliments like candy on Halloween. It takes a lot to impress the Navy play-caller. His standards are extremely high. So when I asked yesterday about his thoughts on sophomore quarterback Kriss Proctor, who has played in only one college football game, I expected to hear similar sentiments to those he uttered last October about Dobbs.
With starter Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada out with an injury, I asked Jasper if he would consider inserting Ricky Dobbs into the 2008 Air Force game if Jarod Bryant struggled – specifically, I wanted to know if there was a big drop-off from Bryant to Dobbs?
His response: "Oh yeah, without a doubt - [Dobbs] is way off," said Jasper. "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."
So when I asked yesterday about the separation between Dobbs, who leads the country in scoring, and Proctor, who has been on the field for about 13 minutes of game-time, I expected to hear Jasper say there was a big difference. He didn't. In fact, Jasper believes that if Dobbs is unable to practice, he should not play.
"If Kriss practices all week and gets all the reps, he needs to start," said the second-year offensive coordinator. "That's not fair to the kid – if (Kriss) practices all week, he deserves to start."
Jasper's strong statement is a testament to a practice structure that is ideal for an option offense in which its quarterback takes a hit after nearly every snap when Navy has the ball.
"We rep two quarterbacks all week long. We have two huddles. It's not the starter gets 80 percent of the snaps. One huddle goes, two huddle goes. Same play, back-to-back. For me it has always been, the back-up quarterback may not play in the game, but he always gets the same amount of reps. To me, in a sense, he plays. He sees all the looks he is going to get. He's going through full-speed. The kid isn't sitting all week long watching," explained Jasper.
Of course allowing Proctor to get some playing time against Rice two weeks ago helped build Jasper's confidence in the sophomore. And in that game, Jasper said that he didn't hold back in what he asked the Big Bear City, California native to do.
"Kriss came in against Rice and played great. He was running the same stuff we were running all game long. He did great with his reads. He came in and had three touchdowns. I am very confident in Kriss," said Jasper.
But what is the difference between Proctor and Dobbs – there must be a significant gap – similar to the one between Bryant and Dobbs last season, right?
"The only difference between (Kriss) and Ricky may be throwing the football. But as for the option, the kid ran it in high school. To me, that's a big advantage. It gave him an edge as far as understanding the language of it," said Jasper.
"Kriss is a natural option quarterback. He's the same as Kaipo was coming out of high school. He was coached by a guy who has been with the option for a long time. I can't coach a lot when it comes to option football. It's all about instincts. You have to have a feel about where a (defender) is going to go. Kaipo was real good at it. Ricky is getting better at it, and hopefully, if Kriss starts, you will see how good he is at it," continued Jasper.
The comparisons to Kaipo continued.
"Kaipo was fast when he got going, but Kriss is quick – he can get going real fast. He is built the same. Now will he get to the point where he is an option wizard where he just a feel for it like Kaipo, it remains to be seen, but he's pretty far ahead."
When asked if Proctor has progressed since the spring, Jasper didn't hesitate.
"Oh yeah, he's gotten better. We're going to go out and run our offense. We can't say if Ricky is not going to play we have to trash our playbook and go to something else. We are going to run our stuff."
Of course, plan A is having Dobbs behind center, a decision Jasper said would most likely come on Thursday. Jasper said if the junior is held out of practice then, Proctor would start.
"(Ricky) needs to practice in order to play. Hopefully he can go on Thursday."
But isn't Dobbs good enough to just play without practicing?
"I've had one kid that I've seen who could do that and he's in the NFL right now," said Jasper. "Adrian Peterson (of the Chicago Bears) – he is the only kid that I saw that didn't practice and could play on Saturday. Ricky is not at that point yet. He needs to practice."