Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was non-committal when asked during a virtual news conference Thursday if the quarterback competition would be renewed in the wake of Monday night’s 55-3 loss to BYU.
The Midshipmen could not muster a sustained drive and did not manage a touchdown at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Starting quarterback Dalen Morris looked shaky and indecisive during the first half then sat out the second half.
Morris finished with 2 rushing yards on seven attempts, mostly the result of a sack and several tackles for loss. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound senior completed 2 of 4 passes for 16 yards in the face of a fierce pass rush.
Morris had his longest completion, a 21-yarder to slotback Chance Warren off a wild scramble, called back because of an illegal block. Morris, who was making his first career start, had trouble with his footing and slipped twice while planting to throw.
“Dalen, first couple of series, struggled then he got settled in,” Jasper said. “There are definitely some things I would like to have seen different from him as a quarterback.”
Perry Olsen took over at quarterback in the second half and did not fare much better. The 6-foot, 205-pound sophomore had 46 yards of positive rushing yardage but absorbed three sacks that resulted in minus-21 yards — leaving his final total at 25. The Oklahoma native completed 2 of 4 passes for 14 yards.
It would seem difficult to evaluate either quarterback considering how poorly the Navy offensive line played. The Midshipmen got no movement up front on running plays and struggled to protect on passing downs.
BYU defenders repeatedly broke into the backfield to blow up triple-option plays, while the five sacks speak to the trouble Navy had with throwing the ball.
“It was definitely not a good night offensively for our football team,” Jasper said. “There are things we did to hurt ourselves by missing assignments and not going to the right people.”
Coach Ken Niumatalolo said his decision to forego live contact throughout training camp played a prominent role in Navy’s offensive woes as the unit was not prepared to play at full speed. However, Jasper said Morris and Olsen both made mistakes reading defenses and with decision-making that were concerning.
Jasper, who personally coaches the quarterbacks, said it’s too early to speculate about who would start against Tulane on Sept. 19 in New Orleans.
“We’re going to take the next two weeks and reevaluate it. There were things as a quarterback that you should be prepared for regardless of how you practice,” Jasper said. “As a quarterback there are certain things that I expect you to see whether we’re going full-speed or not. You have to be able to recognize things the defense is doing and make checks.”
Olsen also had some issues with footwork and Jasper was at a loss to explain why both quarterbacks slipped and stumbled so much.
“Dalen and Perry both slipped. I don’t know if it was the shoes, weak legs, nervous legs — any one of those things,” Jasper said. “It didn’t help the situation, it just added on to everything else that was going on that night.”
Slotback Myles Fells provided most of the few offensive highlights for Navy, rushing for a team-high 55 yards on three pitchouts. Fells had a 33-yard gain that was longest of the game for the Mids. Olsen picked up 31 yards after scrambling.
Speaking to the media Friday, Fells would not blame the offensive futility entirely on Navy not holding live practices.
“It was just a bad display on our part. We’re disappointed with our execution on all fronts. There’s a lot of stuff we have to clean up," Fells said. “At the end of the day, we have to go out there and perform, whether we had contact in practice or not.”
Navy was limited to 149 yards, second-lowest total during Niumatalolo’s 13-year tenure. The Midshipmen averaged just over 3 yards per play.
“Mama said there would be days like this. It was a rough night,” Jasper said. “It was a complete team effort as far as not doing great things.”
Niumatalolo announced during a news conference Wednesday that Navy would begin holding full contact practices immediately. Jasper was confident that would benefit the offense in time for the Tulane contest.
Jasper, who spoke to the media Thursday, said the Navy players came out “breathing fire” and showed determination during practice the previous day.
“Our guys are not hanging their heads. They’re not sitting around saying the sky’s falling,” he said. “We’re going to regroup. We’re going to move on and get our guys right. It’s a gut check for our program and we have to find a way to win the next one.”
Fells acknowledged the Navy players were all happy to begin full contact practices this week. For the first time since training camp began in early August, the Midshipmen scrimmaged with the starting offense trying to move the ball against the starting defense.
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“It definitely is helpful, especially when we go ones versus ones. We got after it [Thursday]; It was good to get back into that and kind of brush off the rust,” Fells said.