ANNAPOLIS | Trey Miller will remain Navy’s starting quarterback this week despite a two-turnover performance in Saturday’s 12-0 loss to San Jose State.
Coach Ken Niumatalolo said Monday the junior will get the nod Saturday at Air Force (2-2) over freshman Keenan Reynolds.
“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.”
Miller has started every game for the Midshipmen (1-3), committing a combined 10 turnovers in four games. Miller has lost seven fumbles and tossed three interceptions, and has a red-zone giveaway in the first quarter of Navy’s last three games.
The nature of the Mids’ triple-option offense exacerbates any penchant for turnovers, which have come as a surprise for a player who has taken care of the ball about as well as most of his predecessors in practice.
“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.”
Saturday was a forgettable day for the entire Navy offense, which was held to 144 yards and was shut out for the first time since 2006.
Fair or not, much of the scrutiny fell on Miller, who is in his first season as a full-time starter and was pulled in the middle of the fourth quarter. Reynolds couldn’t ignite a scoring drive during his one possession, either.
“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.”
There are no established options beyond Miller. Reynolds has played in all four games, but is still learning Navy’s offense. A noteworthy if less significant issue: A rivalry game against another service academy is hardly the most ideal setting to break in a new starting quarterback, particularly a plebe.
Niumatalolo reiterated he believes Miller, who clearly established himself as the starter early in spring practice, gives Navy the best opportunity to succeed.
That might be true if he can solve his turnover troubles in time to face Air Force, which has won two straight against the Mids.
“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.”
—- Patrick Stevens