Navy’s football team did not practice Tuesday as the area dealt with the effects of this week’s storm.
Coach Ken Niumatalolo wasn’t fretting about the lost day.
“I kind of planned when this was coming that one of these days would be an off day,” Niumatalolo said when reached on his cell phone Tuesday. “Even though I would like to practice, sometimes a day off doesn’t hurt us because our kids are drained. They’re always on the go at the academy. Instead of trying to cram in practice, we took the day off. Hopefully, it’ll help.”
Navy did a brief conditioning workout Monday morning, along the lines of the one-hour session they usually have on Monday afternoons. The Midshipmen (5-3) also watched tape and were able to get in a lifting session.
“We wanted to make sure from a physical standpoint we do what we normally do,” Niumatalolo said. “We were able to introduce some things. I was kind of expecting we wouldn’t be able to come back today. We sent guys back with certain things and scouting reports.”
Navy meets Florida Atlantic (2-6) on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Most importantly, Niumatalolo said there was no reason to worry about how his players were faring during the lousy weather.
“I feel good about the players being safe in Bancroft [Hall],” Niumatalolo said. “I don’t worry about guys being off-campus.”
A few other Navy-related tidbits …
* Niumatalolo said slotbacks Darius Staten (shoulder) and Marcus Thomas (concussion) are day-to-day and believes both will play this week.
“Darius will be able to go,” he said. “Marcus will depend on how he responds to our concussion protocol.”
Staten has 12 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown. Thomas has seven rushes for 56 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown scamper in Saturday’s rout of East Carolina. Thomas also has 483 kickoff return yards this season.
* Niumatalolo said he and slotbacks coach Danny O’Rourke both smiled when reserve slotback Geoffrey Whiteside entered on Saturday and picked up 55 yards on seven carries while also collecting a 20-yard touchdown catch.
They were hardly surprised at the work of the Mids’ No. 6 slotback.
“That’s what he did in the spring and during fall camp,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s a talented kid. We feel like Demond Brown can do some of things, and so can Ryan Williams[-Jenkins]. Unfortunately for those guys, Bo [Snelson] and Gee Gee [Greene] are playing so well, it’s hard to get those guys reps.”
The assumption throughout camp was Navy had more depth at slotback than any other spot. Saturday suggested it was probably true.
* Look for safety Chris Ferguson to play Saturday after missing the last three games with a dislocated elbow.
“If push came to shove, he probably could have played last week,” Niumatalolo said. “I know he wanted to play going back home. Our thing was to make sure the thing continued to heal and that he’s getting better and better every week.”
Ferguson made 12 straight starts at free safety dating back to last season before his injury. The sophomore is listed as a co-starter on this week’s depth chart with Wave Ryder.
* Niumatalolo wants to use a rotation of Bradyn Heap and Graham Vickers at right tackle going forward.
Vickers is a bit nicked up, and didn’t start Saturday because of a shoulder injury. Heap made his second career start and first since the season opener.
“A lot of it depends on injuries,” Niumatalolo said. “If Graham is starting to feel healthier, they’ll probably rotate. We would like to keep those guys fresher, like we do with our defensive line.”
—- Patrick Stevens