While Navy listed either Kriss Proctor or Trey Miller as the starting quarterback on its football depth chart going into Saturday's game at Notre Dame, the sling Proctor was wearing to support his left arm at practice Monday in Annapolis seemed to indicate where the decision was headed.
Proctor, a senior who became a fulltime starter for the first time this season, disclocated the elbow on his throwing arm in the second quarter of last Saturday's game against East Carolina. Miller, a sophomore who had played sparingly this season, nearly led the Midshipmen to a comeback victory before Navy fell to the Pirates, 38-35.
Asked about Proctor's status for the game against the Fighting Irish, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said after practice, "Right now he's probably questionable, so we'll see. It's probably a longshot that he'll play this week."
Proctor was injured when he fell to the ground after what was ruled a late hit. It was the fourth time he has dislocated the same elbow, starting when he was a senior in high school. Proctor said that he sustained a similar, though less severe, injury against Air Force on Oct. 1, but kept on playing.
Though Miller had some shaky moments after entering the game, including a fumble on the snap on his first possession, he seemed to get more comfortable as the game progressed and nearly led Navy (2-5) back from a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
Miller threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Brandon Turner to cut Navy's deficit to 31-28 and a 37-yard touchdown to sophomore receiver Matt Aiken to put the Midshipmen in the lead.
After East Carolina regained the lead, Miller overthrew a streaking Turner for what would have been a touchdown and then saw Aiken's leaping catch near the goal line in the closing seconds ruled an incompletion after he hit the ground. Jon Teague's 42-yard field goal attempt to tie hit the right upright.
"I thought he came in and played well," Niumatalolo said of Miller. "He was a little jittery at first, the circumstances being behind against East Carolina. I thought he showed some composure. He did some good things. I'm yelling at him for missing the pass to Brandon, who was wide open, then he comes back and makes a spectacular throw to Matt Aiken."
But playing on the road at Notre Dame Stadium — against a team looking to stop a two-game losing streak to the Midshipmen — might prove difficult.
"He's kind of a cool, calm-natured kid, but I'm sure he's going to have some nerves," Niumatalolo said. "If it's to be, ready or not here we go."
Proctor said he is going for treatment three times a day, starting at 6 a.m. He said he came back from the locker room after Miller's fumbled snap and told his young teammate to focus. Proctor said "if I can help the team in any way, that's kind of how I'm looking at it."
Miller, who spent a year at prep school learning Navy's option offense after running a spread offense in high school in Georgia, said of his performance against the Pirates, "I thought I did pretty good, but I still have a lot of work to do. I missed a huge throw at the end there and I missed a couple of reads."
The thought of making his first career start in a historic setting on national television doesn't seem to faze Miller.
"It's going to be huge, but I just have to get prepared as always," Miller said. "I'm sure Coach will have a good scheme for us and Kriss will help me out a lot also."
NOTES: Niumatalolo said that he spoke with ACC coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads about the incompletion ruling after Aiken's catch, and was told that the call would not have been overturned had the officials on the field ruled it a touchdown. Rhoads said in a telephone interview that since Aiken was airborne when he caught the pass, he did not establish himself as a runner fully before losing control of the ball when he hit the ground. Had he been deemed to have made a football move running — he turned and extended his body over the goalline with the ball in front of him — it would have been a touchdown since the ground can't cause a fumble.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun