Mids’ QB Worth makes grade in his de­but against UConn

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Bill Wag­ner

Will Worth’s per­for­mance in his first ca­reer start at quar­ter­back for Navy earned a good grade from his po­si­tion coach.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ivin Jasper said Worth graded out at 80 per­cent with the mark­downs the re­sult of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties in the pass­ing game and the Mid­ship­men’s fail­ure to fin­ish in the red zone in a 28-24 win against vis­it­ing Con­necti­cut on Satur­day.

“Over­all, I thought Will played pretty well. He was solid,” said Jasper, adding that the big­gest prob­lem was that “we were in the red zone three times and came away with zero points.”

Worth led Navy on a 10-play, 96-yard scor­ing drive on its first pos­ses­sion, then fol­lowed with a nine-play, 80-yard touch­down march on the sec­ond. The Mids turned the ball over at the Con­necti­cut 1-yard line af­ter Worth was stopped for no gain on fourth down.

Navy got great field po­si­tion at the Huskies’ 22-yard line af­ter forc­ing and re­cov­er­ing a fum­ble on a kick­off re­turn. How­ever, Worth took too long to throw to wide re­ceiver Jamir Till­man, who was open on a post route in the end zone. Later in the game, Worth and full­back Chris High muffed a hand­off, which re­sulted in a fum­ble at the Con­necti­cut 6. Cor­ner­back Ja­mar Sum­mers re­cov­ered and raced 86 yards for a de­fen­sive touch­down, pro­duc­ing what amounted to a 14-point swing.

“The one fum­ble was huge. That was on Will and Chris,” Jasper said.

Worth com­pleted six of eight passes for 130 yards. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound quar­ter­back found tough sled­ding on the ground, run­ning for 44 yards on 19 car­ries. Navy nor­mally ex­pects the quar­ter­back to av­er­age more than 2.3 yards per at­tempt, but Worth said UConn was com­mit­ted to stop­ping him.

“I think they took away the quar­ter­back in this game. That’s why the slot­backs ran free on the out­side,” he said. “That’s the beau­ti­ful thing about the triple op­tion; one thing is go­ing to be open if they want to take away the other two.” Huskies quar­ter­back Bryant Shirreffs, spun and waltzed into the end zone for a 2-yard touch­down re­turn.

Gil­man was Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence De­fen­sive Player of the Week. He was also an hon­or­able men­tion se­lec­tion for the Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week.

“Alohi is a very smart player and knows where to go. We’ve put him at three po­si­tions — corner, free safety, strong safety — and he’s done well at each,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dale Pehrson said be­fore the sea­son opener. “He’s way ahead of the curve as far as foot­ball in­tel­li­gence is con­cerned. He’s also a re­ally good ath­lete.” Satur­day, 7 p.m. TV: Com­cast Sport­sNet Ra­dio: 1090 AM, 1430 AM Line: Navy by 5 Aloha Alohi: Fresh­man de­fen­sive back Alohi Gil­man re­ceived mul­ti­ple hon­ors for his per­for­mance against UConn. The Hawaii na­tive had a team-high 10 tack­les and two fum­ble re­cov­er­ies.

Gil­man made the play of the game when he ripped the ball out of the hands of Kick­ing up­date: Se­nior kicker D.J. Grant-John­son re­turned to prac­tice in a lim­ited ca­pac­ity this week. Grant-John­son, who has been side­lined with a leg in­jury, is not ex­pected to travel to Tu­lane, which means sopho­more Ben­nett Moehring re­mains the starter.

A 32-yard field-goal try by Moehring was blocked by UConn. It was a poor kick that barely cleared the line of scrim­mage and was eas­ily bat­ted down by 6-foot-4 de­fen­sive line­man Foley Fatukasi. Fam­ily first: Coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo ar­rived late to prac­tice Tues­day, wear­ing dress slacks and shoes along with a Navy polo shirt.

The ninth-year head coach was dressed up be­cause he and his wife, Bar­bara, had taken their youngest child to the air­port. Ali’i Ni­u­mat­alolo was fly­ing to Cal­i­for­nia to be­gin his Mor­mon mis­sion. Ali’i, the Rhodes Tro­phy win­ner as the best prep foot­ball player in Anne Arun­del County, earned a schol­ar­ship to Boise State and will be­gin his col­lege ca­reer af­ter the two-year mis­sion.

Ni­u­mat­alolo ex­plained to the team dur­ing the post-prac­tice hud­dle why he was late and told the play­ers that while foot­ball is im­por­tant, they should al­ways put their fam­i­lies first. Back in the game: For­mer Navy cor­ner­back Bren­don Cle­ments is play­ing run­ning back for the sprint team, which plays its sea­son opener at Cor­nell on Satur­day.

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