ANNAPOLIS — It was evident Trey Miller was ailing. On a first-half sack in Saturday’s 50-10 loss to Notre Dame, a defender fell on the Navy quarterback’s legs.
The junior was limping. That much was clear as he scrambled around on the next snap before he completed a pass to slotback John Howell. On the sideline, coaches prepared to send in a backup.
Miller would have none of it, waving off the replacement.
“I wasn’t about to come out of the game,” Miller said Tuesday. “If I could play, I’m going to play all the time until I can’t go anymore. I wasn’t trying to worry about it. I was just trying to keep playing. I was hobbling around, but I wasn’t going to come out if I could keep playing.”
While the Midshipmen’s trip to Dublin, Ireland, ended in a lopsided setback, it did provide a look at just who Navy has under center this season.
The ankle injury effectively negated any threat Miller posed as an option runner (he didn’t rush for a gain on any second-half carry), and the deficit the Mids (0-1) faced didn’t help, either. But Miller impressed as a passer, completing 14 of 19 for 192 yards, the most by a Navy quarterback in a span of 18 games, and threw a 25-yard touchdown strike to Shawn Lynch.
He also lost two fumbles and tossed an interception, a sobering counterweight that did not nullify the progress Miller demonstrated since last season.
“I thought he played well,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Unfortunately, we had a couple turnovers, but that’s the nature of his position. The ball’s always going to be in his hands. He has to take care of the ball better. I thought he did some good things. He bought some time and made some plays with his feet to get more time to throw the football.”
Miller was limited in Navy’s practice Tuesday, but mostly for precautionary reasons. The Mids don’t play again until Sept. 15 at Penn State, and Niumatalolo said Miller would be ready if Navy had a game this week.
Miller, in characteristically succinct and direct fashion, said “I’ll be all right” when the subject of Penn State was broached.
It was an expected reply considering Miller’s refusal to leave Saturday’s game, when he played into the fourth quarter and was lifted with the Mids trailing 40-10.
Likewise, his determination came as little surprise to teammates, either.
“From the outside looking in, it’s definitely impressive,” slotback Bo Snelson said. “Later on down the road, when we look back on it, we’re like, ‘Trey, man, that was pretty impressive.’ But in the heat of the moment, that’s Trey swinging for his brothers. He knows he’s not going out because he has a job to do.”
Still, it was a welcome sign for coaches, who have a freshman who just arrived and logged less than 10 snaps Saturday (Keenan Reynolds) and a sophomore who never has played (John Hendrick) backing up the reserved Miller.
“That was definitely good to see — that he fought through the pain and wanted to be out there and wanted to help us win a football game,” offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said. “That’s the one part we’ve been waiting for. I’ve been waiting for him to show some leadership out there. He showed the guys out there that regardless of what [happens], he’s going to continue to fight for them.”