ANNAPOLIS – Time to check in on the interior of Navy’s offensive line, which lost two of its three starters to graduation.
Guard Josh Cabral is back, but it looks like sophomore will occupy the other two spots in the middle.
To sort it out, assistant coach Ashley Ingram was kind enough to chat after practice Wednesday. This is the second half of our conversation; the first part helped shape a story on center Bradyn Heap that’s set to run in Monday’s dead-tree edition.
1. Josh Cabral, I’m sure, is your most known quantity. How’s he doing at his usual left guard spot?
AI: Steady. Mr. Steady. He’s doing a really good job. He’s doing a great job of leading. It’s exactly what you’d expect from him. I’m big-time pleased with the way he’s performing.
2. Jake Zuzek at right guard?
AI: Zuzek’s got a little injury right now. A little foot injury. But he’s a tough kid and he’s fighting through it. I’ve been really, really pleased with his progress.
2b. Did he make a big step, you feel like, in the spring?
AI: Big time. Big time in the spring, big time in the summer. He has the potential to be one of the best ones we’ve had here.
3. You mentioned both Tanner Fleming and Bradyn Heap as guys who could wind up being the center. Are those guys going to be interchangeable at some point, with one of them moving over to guard? Is that going to be a thought?
AI: We’ve talked about it. There’s a possibility, we’ve thrown it out there – maybe Heap at tackle some. The thing is, he’s athletic. He can play all three position, athletically, which is pretty rare. We don’t get many guys who can do that.
4. All the centers are young at this point, but beyond the top two, who stands out?
AI: Kahikolu Pescaia is going to be a senior, another steady guy. He’s traveled with us, he’s played some games. He’s a guy that always works, he’s always steady, he knows exactly what to do, another guy who helps mentor some of these other guys. He’s a little undersized, but he’s a really good football player.
5. How about the backup guards, guys like Nathaniel Otto, Matt Couch, guys like that?
AI: The next guard up is Thomas Stone, who’s going to be a junior. A pleasant surprise. The guy came out of nowhere during spring ball and had a really good spring practice and had a great summer here. He’s performing well again, so if something happened at guard, Thomas Stone would be the first guy in.
Behind him, Nate Otto’s doing a good job. He’s still working his way through. A young man who’s a freshman, straight out of high school, E.K. Binns is doing really well. He’s challenging Otto for the second [backup] guard spot. They’re kind of in a battle for who will make the travel team and those sort of things. He’s doing well.