Numbers adding up for QB Worth

Spald­ing’s Abey will have tough act to fol­low if he starts next sea­son

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Bill Wag­ner

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.”

PA­TRICK SEMANSKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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