Mids’ QB Worth makes grade in his debut against UConn
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.