If everything goes according to Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo’s plan, starting junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs should not have to worry too much about getting his uniform dirty during practice this summer.
Niumatalolo announced yesterday during Navy’s media day that Dobbs, as well as all of the Mids stable of quarterbacks, will wear green jerseys which means they are off limits to pursuing defenders in live contact drills.
“The defense will have to be a little more gingerly when they tackle Ricky this year,” explained Niumatalolo. “We are not as deep at that position as we have been in the past.”
The decision to put the quarterbacks in the non-traditional mesh covering was made several months ago.
“I knew that he needed the live reps in the spring and we were just crossing our fingers that he didn’t get hurt. He needed that live work. There is no way to simulate what we do without getting hit, but I also knew that once camp comes if he gets hurt, there isn’t a lot of time to heal,” said Niumatalolo.
“We are going to be like everybody else in the country – we will protect our quarterbacks (in practice). The last time we did it was with Chris McCoy in 97,” continued the second-year head coach. “It was my first year as an (offensive) coordinator here. I wasn’t the smartest guy in the world but I knew I didn’t want to get Chris hurt.”
Some quick research with the other service academies revealed that Air Force used to have their starting quarterbacks wear protective jerseys, but that practice was discontinued in 2007 when Troy Calhoun became the head coach. Army’s policy was not available at press time.
According to Niumatalolo, ball security will be his chief concern with Dobbs.
“We have to do the best we can to simulate him getting hit, so he can practice protecting the ball, but more importantly we have to get him to the (opening) gate. If I could a bubble around him I would.”
Meanwhile, Dobbs was mostly indifferent to the policy, telling GoMids.com that he was all for doing what was in the best interest of the team.
“Whatever the coaches say goes. They have to do what will help keep the team healthy. They want everybody to come out of camp healthy,” said Dobbs.
And while Dobbs seemed pretty relaxed about the whole situation, his teammates were all ready for the new policy to expire.
“On the first day (of practice when the hitting starts), Coach Niumat will get excited and just tell everyone to put blue jerseys on and (say) we are going at it. That’s how it will
probably go down,” joked standout junior safety Wyatt Middleton.
“(Dobbs) will have his green jersey on, but he will come at you and lower his shoulder and then once he hits you that will be it. It won’t last long,” he continued.
“We won’t try to hit him, but (I bet Dobbs) won’t stop (coming at us).”
However, if senior offensive guard and co-captain Osei Asante has anything to say about it, Middleton won’t be getting very close to Dobbs during practice.
“I don’t think Wyatt will ever get to him because I will be the first one there to chop him down,” said Asante.
As for whether or not the new policy will impact the flow of practices, Asante was confident that it won’t.
“I don’t think it will affect it at all. Ricky is an outstanding athlete. The biggest challenge will be the defense trying to put the breaks on a little early.”