Numbers adding up for QB Worth
Spalding’s Abey will have tough act to follow if he starts next season
Last season, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was named co-Offensive Player of the Year in the American Athletic Conference and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
No. 25 Navy’s current quarterback, Will Worth, is on pace to put up even better statistics, rushing and passing, than Reynolds. So should Worth be a Heisman Trophy candidate? “I don’t know about that,” Worth said with a wry smile after practice Tuesday night.
Actually, Worth probably won’t even make first- or second-team all-conference this season. South Florida standout Quinton Flowers will almost assuredly be the first-team quarterback while Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. is the likely second pick. Like Reynolds last year, Flowers and Ward were returning starters who put up big numbers in 2015.
“I haven’t thought about that one bit,” Worth said. “We’ll be in the conference championship game in two weeks and the total focus is on getting that trophy.”
Last season, Reynolds rushed for 1,373 yards and 24 touchdowns. He passed for 1,203 yards and eight scores.
Worth has already thrown for 1,259 yards and seven touchdowns through 10 games. Worth has completed 63 percent of his passes, compared with 53 percent for Reynolds a year ago.
With four games remaining, Worth also figures to outdo Reynolds in the rushing categories. The 6-foot-1, 205pound senior has run for 1,074 yards and 22 touchdowns. That is 299 yards and two touchdowns short of what his predecessor posted in 2015.
“It’s not something I expected — to be doing this well. I just think the preparation each and every day for the past four years has gotten me to this point,” Worth said.
Worth has rushed for 100 yards or Zach Abey Navy quarterback Will Worth said winning the AAC championship game is more important than beating Keenan Reynolds’ records or postseason honors. more in six straight games, one shy of the school record held by Brian Madden. He is tied with two of the best tailbacks in program history: Napoleon McCallum and Cleveland Cooper.
Worth has scored a rushing touchdown in all 10 games this season, also the second-longest streak in Navy history. Reynolds holds that school record with a rushing touchdown in 14 straight contests. With four games left, Worth has a chance to tie it.
Worth is only the fifth quarterback in Navy history to surpass 1,000 yards in both rushing and passing in the same season. Reynolds did it twice.
Worth is also averaging11.7 yards per passing attempt, which would shatter the single-season school record.
“We hoped that Will would play well for us. He is playing at an exceptional level right now,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said during the AAC teleconference Monday. “You always hope your players will play good, but he’s playing better than good. He is playing exceptional football, at a high level. He’s running hard, he’s getting us into the right plays. He’s doing a lot things very well right now and we’re very fortunate.”
Can Navy catch lightning in a bottle and have another unknown quarterback blossom into a star next season? Sophomore Zach Abey (Archbishop Spalding) is listed as the backup, and was used in a varsity game for the first time in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 66-31 blowout of East Carolina. If Abey takes the reins of the triple option in 2017, fans can only hope he enjoys as much success as a first-time starter as Worth.
Abey looked comfortable directing a 34-yard touchdown drive on his lone possession. He gained 5 yards off an option keeper and executed a nice pitch to slotback Jahmaal Daniel, who scored from 9 yards out.
“It was definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders. I’ve been wanting to get into a game for a while,” Abey said. “Will was coaching me up the entire third and fourth quarter, telling me what kind of defense they were playing.”
Abey made one miscue Saturday, fumbling the snap from center and having to fall on the ball for no gain. That drew a major markdown from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper, who said he is grading Abey with the same critical eye he applies to Worth.
“Ask Zach about that. He’ll tell you how hard I coach him. I’m on him all the time,” Jasper said. “He has potential, but I’m on him all the time about playing smart and doing all the little things right. Hopefully, that will pay off down the road.”