The sun was shining on Saturday afternoon in Annapolis, Maryland, as Navy’s Blue team bested the Gold team in the intrasquad matchup at Navy-Marine Crops Memorial Stadium in front of, well, I’d say a few hundred folks, give or take. And while the game was more of a reward for the hard work of the past month or so, for what it’s worth I took some notes, and have recorded my impressions below.
I guess I’ll begin with the quarterbacks, since that’s where these reports usually start out. Both Kaipo-Noa and Troy Goss sat out, which made for an interesting matchup between Jarod Bryant on the Blue team and Greg Zingler on the Gold team. Both however, were marked with a degree of inconsistency, although one would think Zingler was much more inconsistent than Bryant. Jarod made some good throws, including the game’s only touchdown, going 9-15 for 135 yards on the day. As noted before, Bryant has really improved in the running the option, although he did make a few mistakes in the scrimmage, including a fumbled exchange and a couple of poor pitches. With all the talk about his arm strength, I think we as fans underestimate his athletic ability, and a performance like the one he had today reminds us that when it comes to eluding tacklers, Jarod is second to none on this team. He shows good quickness at hitting the hole, and really impressed me with his ball fakes and head fakes. His reads were shaky at times, and I thought he could have gone to the fullback more when the defense walked people up from the ends. While he’ll get another chance to challenge Kaipo during fall practice, he’s a solid number two quarterback for the time being. Zingler was, well, up and down. I thought when he threw the ball well his receivers failed to make plays, and when he threw the ball poorly bad things happened (five picks, although one was clearly not his fault.) He did not get a ton of help from the Gold team offensive line, but than again he held onto the football way too long at times and was unable to avoid sacks.
The fullbacks, as you can expect, played well as usual, although Adam Ballard left the game in the second quarter with a limp. Eric Kettani continued to impress, bouncing off tackles and picking his way through the Blue defense for. Kevin Campbell also did well, rushing for. 35 yards on 1 carries.
At the risk of making a statement much too broad, Reggie Campbell really seems like he’s on another planet in terms of pure, unadulterated athletic ability. Maybe it’s the fact that he out-jumped Jeff Deliz (who happens to be five inches taller than Reggie) on a pass downfield, or maybe it’s the fact that he simply eludes tackles at will, but the guy is special. He did not see a ton of time in the game, but, as always, he was electric whenever he touched the ball. Zerb Singleton played well in limited time as well, and Jon Forbes showed some good moves.
I was very much impressed with Greg Sudderth, who looks much more comfortable as a receiver than he did at defensive back. Sudderth showed us all why he was so highly touted out of High School during the Blue-Gold game, getting separation downfield and picking up tough yards after the catch. I think he’s going to solidify his spot as the team’s third receiver, and could even push an often injured Tyree Barnes for playing time in the fall. He certainly has the big-play potential in the receiving department, and is showing himself to be a decent downfield blocker.
Speaking of wide receivers, how about O.J. Washington? He nearly makes a great catch on the first play of the day, and avoided the obvious drops that plagued many of the backup wideouts. We all know he’s excellent blocker, but the strides he’s made in the receiving facet of his game have really come alive. He is clearly the number one guy at receiver, and is probably one of the only “sure things” on the offensive depth chart.
As mentioned before, the other wideouts played somewhat inconsistently. Nick Henderson did show the ability to create separation, but also fell down on a route which led to a pick. The blocking by the receivers could also improve as well/
Both teams showed a couple of different looks in the defensive backfield, and despite having a fairly quiet day, FS Jeff Deliz has probably earned the starting job with a solid overall spring. 5-7 Darius Terry showed some ability at corner with an interception, as did rising senior Jordan Reagan. I’m really high on Reagan, who is also one of the fastest players on the team. He’s a smart player with good athleticism who also shows the ability to come off the edge on blitzes. He recorded one interception in the game, and has put himself in a position to further challenge for playing time this fall.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching the game was the battle that was going on between NT Nate Frazier and C Antron Harper. And when I say battle, I’m not exaggerating. These guys have gone after it all spring, with the 5-11 Harper really taking it to the highly touted 6-3 Frazier. Frazier made some good plays in the backfield as the game progressed, but you could really see him having problems with Harper early, even when the converted center was isolated on him. This is great news for both players, who will instrumental on their respected parts of the line next year.
The play between the “O” and “D” lines was, in my estimation anyway, very back and forth. I guess that’s what you can expect in a game like this, which Johnson has continually said was “just for fun.” Still, the offensive lines on both teams committed several penalties, including some silly false starts that must be corrected.
At linebacker, Clint Sovie continued to distinguish himself, as did Jon Alvarado, who shows a real ability to read plays and come off of blocks. He finished the day with 13 tackles and two sacks. Matt Humiston was also impressive, and has the athletic ability necessary to anchor the outside linebacker position. Jesse Iwuji, Scott Reider, and Arti Pauls all made some eye-opening hits, as did Ross Pospisil, who had eight tackles and two sacks.
Overall, it was a good day to get out and watch a little football, and considering the team avoided any major injuries, a good day in the development of this particular team.
I’ll be back later to share more thoughts on both the Spring Game and Spring Practices in general. Until then you can read the official release of the game from Navysports.com or head over for continued coverage at GoMids.com.