- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 26, 2009

Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs has garnered a lot of attention with his arm, and rightfully so - his 259 passing yards in the Midshipmen’s first two games marked the first time they had thrown for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games since 2005.

But last week’s 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh, an error-prone effort in which the Mids amassed just 218 yards of total offense, served as a humbling reminder that executing the triple option is still vital to their success.

“I was disgusted after the game. I didn’t get any sleep,” Dobbs said. “I went to bed at like 5:45 [a.m.]. I watched the game for a minute [online], but I turned it off because I was so mad at the things I was doing. I could just tell by watching the tape of my demeanor that I wasn’t myself.”

The Mids never got their ground game going and, trailing for all of the second half, were forced to turn to the pass. Dobbs had a career-high 21 attempts, but without balance on offense the Panthers’ defense shut down the passing game. Their corners played tight, and Navy’s receivers weren’t able to get open. The result was just six completions for 89 yards.

“I think Ricky realized, hey, we’ve got to be able to run the option to be successful,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Yeah, he’s a heck of a thrower and as good as we’ve ever had, but in order for us to be successful for the rest of the season, we’ve got to be able to run our offense to have a chance.”

Pittsburgh gave Dobbs a physical beating - he was sacked six times on top of being hit on nearly every rushing play - and the junior said that contributed to his poor showing.

Instead of letting the Pittsburgh defenders dictate what he did with the ball, Dobbs started guessing. He made up his mind before the play could fully develop and as a result missed several of what offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper called “obvious” reads.

“It’s just about letting it come to me,” Dobbs said. “In that game, I let their defense get me rattled. I got hit a couple times, and I started rushing everything. That’s when I started making my decisions too early, and they were the wrong decisions.”

After reviewing the tape, Navy’s coaches agreed it was a poor performance across the board. Rarely did the Mids get everything right on a given play - either Dobbs made the wrong read, the offensive line missed assignments or the receivers and slotbacks failed to seal the perimeter.

So the Mids (1-2) went back to work this week the same way they always do - practicing the fundamentals of the option. But because of all the mistakes against the Panthers, there was extra emphasis on getting it right before Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky (0-3).

Even though Navy mustered only 129 rushing yards last week, the evidence was there that better execution could have led to some big plays.

“There were so many holes, and that’s the encouraging thing,” Niumatalolo said. “It’s not just one person. So I think as a team, everybody understands. Ricky needs to get better at reading it, the line needs to get better at their blocking assignments, the perimeter didn’t block it very well. Nobody has the market cornered.”

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