Musical chairs on Navy's offensive line

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This just in from Navy beat writer Mike Fratto

The most notable development from Friday’s Navy scrimmage was seeing senior Curtis Bass back at center with the first-team offense. For most of spring and fall camp, sophomores Brady DeMell and Eric Douglass have been contending for the starting center spot, with DeMell leading the way.

But during last week’s scrimmage, Bass, who started all 13 games at right guard in 2008, played a few series at center. Coach Ken Niumatalolo said the move was experimental, but Bass impressed the coaching staff at that spot. During this week’s practices, Bass and DeMell saw time at both guard and center, and Niumatalolo reiterated that DeMell was one of the Midshipmen’s five best offensive linemen.

But lo and behold, there was Bass making the exchange with quarterback Ricky Dobbs at Friday’s scrimmage. And senior Andy Lark, who had been the backup left guard, played right guard with the starters, supplanting DeMell as Navy’s fifth offensive lineman.

“That’s just right now what we’re thinking,” Niumatalolo said. “Right now our o-line is like our slotbacks – we roll those guys every day depending on how well they practice and how they do on their tests and that sort of thing. So that’s our lineup, and we’ll see where we are at from there.”

That’s how fluid the last spot on Navy’s offensive line is right now. Jeff Battipaglia and Matt Molloy are locked in at the two tackle spots, as is offensive captain Osei Asante at left guard - all three are returning starters. But it is apparent that Niumatalolo (who was offensive line coach under Paul Johnson) and current centers/guards coach Ashley Ingram aren’t sold on the sophomore centers, and Bass could very well end up in that spot against Ohio State and beyond.

Mike Fratto

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