A recent conversation with Navy assistant coach Ashley Ingram, who works with the Midshipmen’s centers and guards:
Q: There’s lots of guys back. How do you see center shaping up with Brady DeMell back?
Ingram: I think Brady DeMell is by far [the starter]. If he can stay healthy, we’re expecting big things from him this year. Eric Douglass is backing him up. Eric is also going to work in at guard some. Then Damon Pescaia is behind him.
Q: How steady is Brady through your experiences with him?
Ingram: He’s played a lot of football and he had a really good season last year, but he started games during his sophomore year, every game last year. So he knows the offense, he knows what to do. Just consistency. He can be really good at times and at times he’s been inconsistent. We need him to perform at the highest level every week.
Q: At the guard positions –
Ingram: Josh Cabral at left guard. Josh Cabral is a guy since I’ve been here may understand our offense and understand the position as well as anybody we’ve had. I know exactly what I’m going to get from him every day. John Dowd at right guard is probably one of the more intense guys we’ve had here. We feel good with those guys.
Then behind them, we’ve got guys. Eric Douglass would be the backup center. He’d probably be the first guard in the game. He’s a senior. He’s started games here. Travis Bridges is another young guard. We feel really good about him. We have a senior Zach Dryden. We feel comfortable playing him. We have a young freshman, Jake Zuzek, who we think is going to be a heck of a football player. We feel good there.
Q: What do you think makes Dowd as intense as he is? Is there a particular story that stands out?
Ingram: Not a particular story. There’s a story coach wouldn’t be too fond of. He is full speed, all the time. He almost has tunnel vision. We were in shorts one day, no cut blocking or anything like that, and we ran a screen pass and he went and cut-blocked Ryan Green in shorts. It’s kind of a story guys give him a hard time about.
But that’s John Dowd. With Dowd, he’s fortunately one of the few guys you have to pull the reins back all the time. A lot of them, you have to take the whip to, but he’s totally different. Everything he does, whether it’s football, schoolwork, the weight room, it’s just who he is. He’s a perfectionist.