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Niumatalolo not impressed after Blue win

The Baltimore Sun

There were flashes of promise, but new Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo wasn't impressed overall by the performance in the Blue-Gold spring game last night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

"We had two goals - that Navy would win and nobody would get hurt," Niumatalolo said. Those were accomplished, but the coach didn't like the fact that "the Blue guys, especially the offense, were punching the clock. We just weren't focused. They treated it like practice."

And that's what he said about the winning team. The Blue squad scored touchdowns on its first and last possessions for a 14-0 victory but never looked cohesive after a 65-yard drive to the end zone in the first quarter. It was directed by Jarod Bryant in the absence of starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who sat out the game.

Fortunately, the announced crowd of 2,497 didn't have to endure the inconsistencies for long. With two 12-minute quarters and a final two of 10 minutes each (in running time), the game was over in an hour.

"We might have come out not as ready as we should be," said Bryant, who completed all three of his passes for 66 yards but spent a lot of time trying to elude young Gold defenders, especially linebackers Trey Grissom (nine tackles, 3 1/2 for losses) and Tyler Simmons (eight tackles). "We moved the ball, then we shot ourselves in the foot with stupid things. We've got a long way to go."

Linebacker Clint Sovie added: "We had some ups and downs. It was just a regular old scrimmage. But the younger guys came out to play. They're out here trying to win a spot."

The final touchdown - a 4-yard run on a pitch by Andre Byrd - was set up when sophomore quarterback Ricky Dobbs improvised on a 32-yard run that had been designed to go in the opposite direction. It was the highlight of the night for Dobbs, who had some difficulty handling snaps and pitch plays.

"Ricky had a nice run, but taking care of the football was a problem," Niumatalolo said. "Offensively, this wasn't the performance we were looking for. We got an idea of where we are, and we've got a couple months to get that sluggish offense rectified."

The Gold team had 78 yards of offense (the Blue had 250), but a 65-yard touchdown pass from Greg Zingler to Greg Jones was nullified by a penalty.

Blue fullback Kevin Campbell was the leading rusher with 41 yards on 10 carries.

Notes -- Outside linebacker Craig Schaefer, a junior, won the Vice Admiral William P. Mack Award as the most improved player during spring drills. "He was by far the biggest surprise," Niumatalolo said. "We were looking for guys that can come off the edge and get some pressure on the quarterback, and he did a great job with that this spring."... Quarterback-slotback Bryant and linebacker Sovie have been elected by their teammates as captains.

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