- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

ANNAPOLIS — The nature of playing quarterback ensures plenty of praise when things are going well.

And when they’re not, as is the case for Trey Miller during Navy’s 1-3 start?

“Trey’s had it tougher than anybody,” wideout Brandon Turner said. “When the offense stalls, who do you look at? It’s the quarterback. He’s had a lot of pressure and a lot of criticism on his shoulders, and he’s taken it pretty well. I’ve tried my best to talk to Trey a little more, go to his room to hang out with him and let him know we still care about him and still love him and that he’s still our quarterback. We don’t want anyone to replace him.”

It isn’t happening, at least not this week.

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said Monday he will stick with Miller for Saturday’s game at Air Force (2-2) despite the junior’s 10 turnovers in the Midshipmen’s first four games. Freshman Keenan Reynolds will remain Miller’s backup.

“I just feel Trey gives us the best chance to win right now,” Niumatalolo said. “Really, bottom line is we have to move on. We still have two-thirds of our season left. We have a huge game against a very good Air Force team.”

Miller has seven fumbles and three interceptions, miscues that have only led to 19 points for opponents. But the giveaways also have cost Navy precious scoring opportunities; Miller has a red-zone turnover in the first quarter in each of Navy’s past three games.

The Mids’ triple-option offense heightens the possibility of mistakes for a quarterback, from a poor read leading to an unexpected hit or an errant pitch glancing off a slotback. Still, Miller’s troubles are unexpected; Niumatalolo said Miller isn’t more prone to errors in practice than his predecessors.

No one, though, is more surprised than Miller.

“That’s why it’s really hard on me right now because I’ve never had a problem with fumbling like this since,” Miller said. “It’s something new to me, so I just have to do a better job of taking care of it.”

Miller began the spring as a clear-cut starter and did nothing to relinquish the position as the offseason continued. But his turnover troubles might have created an opportunity for Reynolds, who has appeared in all four games and played the final possession of Saturday’s 12-0 loss to San Jose State.

Reynolds, who still is learning Navy’s system, didn’t ignite the offense, either. Miller, meanwhile, has tried to regroup after another multiturnover day and spoke briefly to the Mids during a post-practice huddle Monday.

“A lot of people have told me to keep my head up, because I’m really hard on myself,” Miller said. “I just have to make sure I stay positive and just know this problem can be fixed.”

Niumatalolo concurred and offered his support as the Mids embarked on an important week both for their quarterback and the tenor of their season.

“Trey’s going to be our quarterback,” Niumatalolo said. “I have faith in Trey. He needs to play better, but I know he can get it done. So he’s our quarterback. He’s the guy we’re going with this week.”

NOTES: Senior slotback John Howell will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury. Howell rushed for five touchdowns last season and had six carries for 60 yards this year.

χ Safety Tra’ves Bush (concussion) is day to day. Cornerback Quincy Adams (stinger) is expected to play Saturday.

χ Wide receiver Matt Aiken (knee) wore a noncontact jersey Monday and is questionable to make his season debut against Air Force.