A recent conversation with Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper:
Q: Kriss Proctor has started a couple times at quarterback in the past. What’s your take on what you have there?
Jasper: Quarterback-wise, we have a kid who is battle-tested, he has experience. He’s been in the fire. That’s the biggest thing. He’s started. He won two and lost one, so he has the feeling of winning and losing, which I’m sure he hates losing. He’s a competitor. Like any team that has a new starting quarterback coming in, having him have some experience is big.
There’s something about Kriss. He’s a fiery kid and he’s probably going to be one of the more vocal kids I’ve ever had. He’s going to talk. He’s going to be a rah-rah [guy] and get everybody going.
Behind him, Trey Miller is kind of where Kriss was. Going into spring [two years ago], Ricky [Dobbs] was the starter and Kriss hadn’t been tested yet and we didn’t have a clear-cut No. 2 or anybody with experience. Kriss came in that spring and had a great spring and at least showed he was tough enough to do it. Trey had a real good spring. He’ll go in as the No. 2 guy. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get him ready.
That’s my job, to worry about Kriss, but I also have to make sure Trey is ready to go because over the past few years, it’s happened to us —- the starters went down. So I have to make sure that kid is ready to go.
Quarterback-wise, we have a starter who has experience and is ready to go and is chomping at it.
Q: How sobering is it knowing that year-by-year, there’s almost always a game that you have to go to No. 2 at quarterback? How much does that push you?
Jasper: What the offense is built around, even when I played back in the early ‘90s is you always have to have two quarterbacks. They’re just like a running back. Our practice schedule is set up so the starter and the backup get the same amount of reps. To me, although Kriss hasn’t played a lot of games, he has a lot of experience, seeing the defenses, going through the action, all that kind of stuff. He has a bunch of experience.
I think that’s why we’re always able when we have a backup who has to be the starter for a week or two, they always come in and play well. Hopefully, that trend can continue. We have to make sure we get Trey ready, but it’s definitely a great feeling —- you feel a little secure.
Q: It seems almost appropriate for Navy that the fullback [Alexander Teich] is the team captain. Do you agree with that?
Jasper: I do. The thing about Alex is he’s a different fullback for us. Before, we always had the big, rumbling guys —- Adam Ballard, Eckel, guys that were bigger bodies. Alex is smaller, but he’s quicker, he’s faster. At the same time, he’s a tough kid.
He’s another kid who is probably going to be one of the more vocal players out there. Outside of being a team captain, Alex is a vocal kid. He’s going to be getting after them no matter what title he has.
Behind him, the thing about Delvin Diggs that I like —- to me, our biggest game last year was the Wake Forest game. It was after a big loss, it came down to the end. Vince [Murray] went down and Alex was already down. Delvin, he was in those key drives. The kid was in the game and performed well in, I think, the biggest game of the year because we were coming off a big loss and we had to bounce back. If we lose that game, who knows what happens? But Delvin was in there and he performed. Hopefully, Delvin can learn from that and have that experience of being in a big game.
We have guys like [Prentice] Christian, who has all the tools. He has the tools. He’s a powerfully built kid, he’s fast, he’s athletic. He needs to grow up a little bit more. B-back wise, we have some guys.
Q: With the slotbacks, at this time last year the question was “Who are these guys?” Now, the question is “How do you get them all on the field?”
Jasper: Exactly. That’s probably our most veteran group, most complete group. The thing about those guys is they’re so close. They don’t complain about who’s going to carry the ball. They’ll just play. They’re smart, they understand the offense, they can get lined up. If I try to do a wrinkle in practice and change a play, they can just adapt to it right then and there. It’s a great group. We expect those guys to really step up this year in bigger roles for us.
Again, slotback-wise, the cupboard is not empty. It’s very, very full. And also, the future looks good for us.
Q: Over at wideout, Greg Jones is gone but you have Doug Furman as an enforcer back. You have Brandon Turner back —-
Jasper: The thing about our wideout position is you have what you want. You have a mix of guys who, if you have to throw the football, you can. You also have guys who want to go out there and get after those corners. That’s Doug. That’s Brandon.
[Matt] Aiken might be the next Greg Jones. We don’t know that. He has a long way to go. At the same time, it’s a good group of guys who are great blockers and guys who can run and are also guys who can catch the ball as well. We might not have another Greg Jones, but we have guys who can do both so we don’t become too predictable. That’s good for me.
Q: With Furman, when you have a veteran wideout who is willing to accept that role as “I’m going to go out and blow up defensive backs on the edge,” how much does that help the offense and help you in your job when you have that guy?
Jasper: That’s what we do. We’re going to run the football. To us, it’s a tone-setter, when somebody goes out there and gets a great block on the edge and springs a long run. That gets us going. For wideouts in this offense, it’s tough being a wideout because you want the ball and stuff like that, but these guys are very unselfish. They’ve shown it all these years. They’ve been unselfish.
For coach [Mick] Yokitis, who’s a new coach for us, it’s tough for him because he has to find ways to keep these guys motivated. Coach Niumat had a great phrase a couple years back: Our wideout coach has to be Dr. Phil. He has to be open. He has to find ways to get guys to believe things are better. Guys aren’t going to complain about not catching a ball. We don’t want that. These guys are very unselfish. They just want to win. That’s the bottom line.
Q: Up front, four starters are back and one position is kind of in flux. What do you think of that group and the open spot at left tackle?
Jasper: We’ll see what happens there. You had Jeff Battipaglia and Matt Molloy for years, but again, unfortunately for Matt he went down last year. At the same time, it allowed Ryan Basford to get a lot of game experience. He’s probably one of the most talented guys we’ve had at that position in a while.
The main thing up front is experience. We can mix and match and put five guys on the field that have played. You can go with Brady DeMell. You can go with Eric Douglass. You can go with [Josh] Cabral, you can go with [John] Dowd at right tackle and then you put in Ryan Basford and there you go. You have five guys who have been in big games. Eric Douglass’ big game was against Notre Dame. On a touchdown run, he makes a key block.
The key thing up front is we have a lot of experience. That’s the main thing. We have enough guys on offense to know if we can keep the formula right and don’t change it at all, maybe tweak it a little bit, we’ll have a chance.
—- Patrick Stevens