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Navy QB situation ‘up in the air’

Freshman backup excelled off bench

- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2012

ANNAPOLIS — Navy's riveting overtime triumph at Air Force injected optimism into the Midshipmen's season.

It also created uncertainty about their quarterback situation.

Starter Trey Miller departed with a left ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the 28-21 victory.

Freshman Keenan Reynolds entered, leading the Mids on a tying drive and then playing in the overtime period.

Coach Ken Niumatalolo did not commit to a starter Monday.

He has a little less time than usual to come to a decision since the Mids (2-3) visit Central Michigan (2-3) on Friday night.

"I thought Trey was playing decent until he got hurt," Niumatalolo said. "Keenan came in and did some phenomenal things. I don't think we're really sure right now. If Trey could come back, I think he would be slightly ahead if he wasn't injured. But he's injured, and Keenan did well. Right now, it's up in the air."

Miller wore a protective boot during Navy's hourlong practice Monday. He is coming off arguably the best of his six career starts, rushing for 110 yards while completing all three of his passes. More importantly, he did not commit a turnover after having 10 in the first four games.

Miller, a co-starter with Reynolds on this week's depth chart, told reporters he intends to play this week.

"Oh yeah, that's my plan," Miller said. "I feel good."

Of course, Navy has reason to feel good about Reynolds, a direct-entry plebe who quickly seized the backup role during camp and has played in every game this season.

Niumatalolo insisted last week Miller gave Navy the best chance to win against its fellow service academy. While he didn't say so, it wasn't hard to imagine the idea of thrusting Reynolds into the starting lineup for the first time against Air Force was less than ideal.

Pressed into action out of necessity, Reynolds was crisp and in control. He promptly took Navy 75 yards in six plays for the tying touchdown and two-point conversion and kept the Mids on track throughout the overtime period.

"I don't think he can go into a more pressure-packed situation," Niumatalolo said. "We're down eight on the road against our rival in the fourth quarter with [nine] minutes left. It doesn't get more tense than that. The kid did well. I don't remember a guy coming in and playing like that before, just taking in all the factors. I think all any of us could say is, 'Wow.' That was big time."

Reynolds completed all three of his passes and added 22 rushing yards, impressive work in his first appearance during a one-possession game.

With Miller listed as questionable, Reynolds does not plan to approach this week differently after helping the Mids secure the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

"The preparation is still the same," Reynolds said. "Every week I have to prepare as if I'm going to be the starter because I'm a play away. I'm just going to continue to do what I've been doing throughout practice and keep grinding."

Notes: Niumatalolo said junior Wave Ryder will start in place of injured safety Chris Ferguson, who is expected to miss four weeks with a left elbow injury. Junior Cody Peterson is listed atop the depth chart at inside linebacker, displacing senior Brye French. Peterson has collected 15 tackles in the Mids' past two games, including a career-high 10 against Air Force.

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