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The quarterback is always the key to success in the triple option, but this year Dobbs’ play could be even more critical. Navy simply doesn’t have the depth it has had in recent years when Kaheaku-Enhada started and Jarod Bryant and Dobbs backed him up.

Sophomore Kriss Proctor planted awkwardly and injured his leg during one of Navy’s scrimmages and is on crutches following surgery. As a result, sophomore Mike Stukel, who was thriving at slotback, moved back to quarterback.

Keeping Dobbs healthy is Navy’s top priority, and Jasper was quick to point out that is why Dobbs’ aerial assault was on display all camp. But Navy’s play caller won’t hesitate to use Dobbs’ arm to his advantage.

“If we got weapons, we want to utilize them,” Jasper said. “It’s our job as an offensive staff to fine-tune it, to find ways to strategically plan how we are going to use it. We gotta find ways to use his throwing ability and be effective with it. But we made our living running the football, and we’re not going to change it. People forget that Ricky’s a good runner. So we’re gonna keep doing what we do and try to get people to defend us tightly, and maybe we can sneak a throw in here and there.”

Dobbs’ running ability was on display during his cameos last year. He saw action in only eight games but finished third on the team with 495 rushing yards and tied for first with eight touchdowns.

He stood out in the process, racking up 224 yards on the ground off the bench on a rainy afternoon against Southern Methodist in which the Mids didn’t attempt a pass. In his lone start, he ran for 124 yards and a touchdown.

There is no question Navy’s 2009 success rests largely on Dobbs’ shoulders. But if he needs any support, all he has to do is look around.

“I think guys on our team love playing for him,” Niumatalolo said. “They want to see him do well. There’s a genuine love for Ricky.

“I know it’s kind of corny, but it’s the truth.”