- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2008

After a month of standing on the sidelines, quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is expected to start for Navy when it visits Duke on Saturday.

The senior has been recovering from a partially torn left hamstring he suffered in the Midshipmen’s first preseason scrimmage Aug. 9. For the first time since, Kaheaku-Enhada practiced with the first-team offense this week. By avoiding a setback, Kaheaku-Enhada is in line to see his first action of the 2008 season.

“We’re going to see how he feels,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “This is the first time he really pushed himself. He’s still getting into game shape. If he can go, he’s going to be the quarterback. We’re going as if he’s going to be ready to play.”

Senior Jarod Bryant, who started the Mids’ first two games, is back to serving double-duty as slot back and backup quarterback. During preseason camp, Bryant was in line to start at slot back opposite Shun White before Kaheaku-Enhada’s injury.

Bryant transitioned smoothly back into the role this week and should see significant time at slot back in Durham, N.C., now that Kaheaku-Enhada has returned. With both Kaheaku-Enhada and Bryant joining fellow seniors White and Eric Kettani in the Mids’ backfield, Navy (1-1) will feature its most experienced lineup and should cut down on the missed reads and failed blocks that proved costly in a loss to Ball State on Sept. 5.

“Kaipo looks good. I’m glad to have him back at the helm,” White said. “Jarod’s a great athlete. It really don’t matter who our quarterback is. But Jarod will be able to move back to slot back and give me a lot of help. I’m real excited about that.”

Niumatalolo’s main concern is Kaheaku-Enhada’s conditioning. While receiving treatment on his hamstring - which included electro-stimulation, ice, massage and whirlpool - Kaheaku-Enhada’s exercise was limited to running in a sand pit and riding a stationary bike. Not until this week did he test his hamstring by running at full speed and taking snaps in practice.

Since Kaheaku-Enhada isn’t in his best shape, Niumatalolo expects to use Bryant to spell his starter.

“If I’m not performing at 100 percent, I’m not helping the team,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “I’ll take myself out if I feel like I’m not helping the team. That’s when we’ll call in Jarod and that worked well for us last year. I think he was the key in getting us around the corner in some games.”

Although Kaheaku-Enhada expects to get tired running the triple-option offense, he doesn’t anticipate having any rust. In addition to missing the past month with the partially torn hamstring, Kaheaku-Enhada sat out most of spring practice recovering from a knee injury he suffered late last season. However, he remains confident his experience in the triple-option — which he has played in since high school — will offset any ill effects of his inactivity.

Returning to the practice field was all the work he feels needed.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same thing as running practice against our scout team,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “Not to take anything away from Duke or any other team that we play, it’s just that we practice at a high speed. No one knows us better than our defense, and they are gonna give us a hard time.”

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