QB change option for struggling offense?

The Baltimore Sun

The numbers keep dropping.

Ever since quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada left late in the first half at Wake Forest last month after reinjuring his hamstring, Navy's triple-option offense has slowly evaporated. The Midshipmen beat the then-No.16 Demon Deacons despite only 115 rushing yards in the second half, and they defeated Air Force with 206 rushing yards overall.

Giving up a season-high 499 yards to Pittsburgh certainly factored significantly into Saturday's 42-21 loss to the Panthers at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but so did a season-low 194 rushing yards and 251 yards overall.

It further demonstrated the difficulty Navy (4-3) has running the triple option without Kaheaku-Enhada.

So what should first-year Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo do this week against Southern Methodist at home if Kaheaku-Enhada remains sidelined?

Given how long it took Niumatalolo to replace senior Jarod Bryant with sophomore Ricky Dobbs - the quarterback switch didn't occur until 2:45 remained in the game Saturday with the Midshipmen trailing 42-14 - it seems doubtful that Niumatalolo will make any dramatic moves this week.

But here is why he should consider getting Dobbs into the rotation:

Experience: : With Kaheaku-Enhada and Bryant graduating after the season, Dobbs will likely be the favorite to take over next year with a schedule that starts at Ohio State and has an early trip to Pittsburgh.

Opponents: : The Midshipmen should have their easiest two-game stretch of the season coming up, with home games against SMU (1-7) and Temple (2-5). Why not get Dobbs on the field playing teams he might have success against?

Performance: : Though Dobbs still makes mistakes in practice and in games, he showed some of his potential in leading Navy to a late touchdown against Pitt with a 39-yard completion to Mario Washington and a 4-yard touchdown run.

Scouting: : If Dobbs is suddenly in the mix, Navy's opponents will have to prepare for a different type of quarterback than Bryant. Although Niumatalolo and opposing coaches say it doesn't matter who runs the offense, it does.

Goals: : Winning the Commander in Chief's Trophy and going to a bowl game are Navy's two most immediate goals. The Midshipmen have a leg up on the first after beating Air Force and need to win two of the last five games to qualify for the Eagle Bank Bowl.

This could all be a moot point if Kaheaku-Enhada returns Saturday and finishes the season, but if not, Niumatalolo might want to look at the long-term ramifications rather than just focusing on SMU.


There weren't many positives to come out of Saturday's loss to the Panthers, who moved up from No. 23 to No. 17 in this week's Associated Press Top 25, but Rashawn King's 91-yard interception return was one of the best plays a Navy cornerback has made in recent memory.


Bryant's fumble in the first quarter led to Pittsburgh going up 21-7. Though King's return and a touchdown run by Bryant cut the deficit to 21-14, the quarterback and the offense seemed to be out of sync for most of the day after Bryant fumbled for the eighth time this season.

Fast forward

SMU is 116th out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in points allowed (41.1) under new coach June Jones, but the Mustangs, as expected, are 11th in passing yardage (302.1).


Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

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