- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo had two goals coming into last night’s spring game.

The first was to make sure no one was injured. That was accomplished thanks to a brisk 78-minute contest.

The second was to see the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense succeed. The Blue team prevailed 14-0 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. But that squad, comprising mainly first-string players, struggled to complete drives. Because of three fumbles, it failed to make the most of its 250 yards of offense.

“Offensively, we were a little sluggish. Fortunately, we have a couple months to get that rectified,” Niumatalolo said. “We just weren’t focused. Guys weren’t dialed in. They treated it like practice as opposed to coming out here and competing.”

Added quarterback Jarod Bryant: “Some people, including myself, weren’t as ready as we should be to play. You’ve got to come out ready every day. We’d move the ball and shoot ourselves in the foot with stupid things that we haven’t been doing all spring, so it’s kind of frustrating to end like that.”

Sophomore quarterback Ricky Dobbs showed both his promise and inexperience. He dazzled the crowd with a 32-yard run late in the fourth quarter, but he also fumbled two snaps.

“He’s got to learn to take care of the football, but he’s definitely got a future here,” Niumatalolo said.

Bryant and inside linebacker Clint Sovie were elected team captains. Bryant will backup Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but Navy’s coaching staff wants to find ways to get him on the field. He is slated to return punts and might see some time at slot back in the fall.

Sovie missed most of last year with a leg injury he suffered against Rutgers, so he didn’t expect his teammates to vote him captain.

“I was shocked. There’s two or three guys I thought could have earned the spot,” Sovie said. “I didn’t play last year and they did and proved themselves. It’s an honor that words can’t describe.”

At halftime, Niumatalolo presented linebacker Craig Schaefer with the Admiral Mack Award, given each year to the spring’s most improved player. He leapfrogged Travis Sudderth for a spot as starting outside linebacker.

“He’s a guy that’s met every challenge that we’ve given him,” Niumatalolo said. “We told him we needed a guy to come off the edge and get pressure. That’s one phase of the game that we needed this spring and he’s done a great job. We’re excited about where he’s at.”

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