Jasper’s Mids rewriting offensive records
in consecutive victories over East Carolina and Southern Methodist.
“Obviously, we’re in a very good place right now. You have to give all the credit to the players. They’re playing great football,” offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said. “I’m really proud of the kids for playing sound and smart. We’re not committing penalties and we’re not turning the ball over. As a unit, I think the offense is playing with a lot of confidence. At the same time, they are staying humble and hungry. They just continue to grind and plug away.”
Many observers cite the contributions of quarterback Will Worth. Worth, who took over when Tago Smith suffered a season-ending injury in the opener, has accounted for 2,544 yards from scrimmage and 33 t ouchdowns. The 6- f oot-1, 205-pound senior has rushed for 1,181 yards and 25 touchdowns and passed for 1,363 yards and eight scores.
Navy has 5,170 yards and 459 points through 11 games this season. With three games remaining, the Midshipmen are almost assured of breaking the single-season school records in both categories, which were set in 2007. That was the final year of Johnson’s tenure, when the Mids totaled 5,773 yards and 511 points.
“It always comes down to having good players. We have a system that puts people in position to make plays, but it always comes down to our kids executing,” Jasper said.
While Jasper deflects credit, those most closely associated with the program — from coach Ken Niumatalolo to Worth — say he was the driving force behind Navy’s remarkable offensive run in October and November.
After all, Jasper, 46, is the playcaller — the chess master who must counter the moves by opposing defensive coordinators. Jasper, who played for Johnson at Hawaii and spent a total of 12 years as his assistant, has become just as proficient as his mentor at adjusting to whatever the defense is doing.
Jasper has served as quarterbacks coach since 2002 and has worked with12 starting quarterbacks over the past 15 seasons. He has found a way to get every one to operate the tripleoption offense at a high level.
Nobody knows these facts better than Niumatalolo, who like Jasper was a quarterback at Hawaii when Johnson was offensive coordinator and accepted his offer to learn the triple-option offense from the ground up as a graduate assistant.
Niumatalolo was disappointed to learn Monday that Jasper was not a finalist for the Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant in college football. The ninth-year head coach was not surprised that the five coaches who made the cut all came from Power Five conference schools.
“If anybody did their homework and knew what Coach Jasper has done this season — I mean, nobody on that list has come even close to what he’s done,” said Niumatalolo, noting that Navy is posting record-setting Navy’s Jamir Tillman catches a touchdown pass against SMU on Saturday. In their past two games, the Midshipmen have a combined1,193 yards and141 points. statistics with a projected backup quarterback at the helm. “I guess around here we’re used to that … not getting much respect. Ivin knows and we all know that he’s a heck of a football coach.”
Four defensive coordinators — Michigan’s Don Brown, Alabama’s Jeremy Pruitt, Clemson’s Brent Venables and Colorado’s Jim Leavitt — are joined by Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada as finalists for the Broyles Award. Niumatalolo called Jasper’s exclusion “a darn shame,” but did not hesitate when asked whether his longtime friend will one day become a head coach.
“No doubt. I don’t know what else the guy has to accomplish. His resume speaks for itself,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s definitely deserving. Hopefully, somebody will recognize that this guy is a heck of a football coach and could lead a program.”
Jasper has been a candidate for several head coaching jobs since being promoted to Navy offensive coordinator in 2008 when Niumatalolo became head coach. Jasper was a finalist at Georgia Southern in 2014 but withdrew from consideration before Willie Fritz was hired. Fritz is now the head coach at Tulane of the American Athletic Conference.
Jasper also interviewed with Army West Point in 2014, but that job ultimately went to another Johnson protege: former Navy and Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken.
According to sources, Jasper has shown interest in the Delaware vacancy, which opened when Dave Brock was fired in mid-October. As in years past, Jasper is hindered by the fact that Navy’s season stretches until late December — later than most schools are willing to wait to interview potential candidates.
“I really don’t worry about that, to be honest with you,” Jasper said when asked about the prospect of becoming a head coach. “It’s just a matter of someone out there looking at what you’ve done and your body of work and deciding to try this offense. That’s what it all comes down to — some athletic director at some school making the commitment to giving this type of offense a shot.”
Unfortunately for Jasper, there are not many Football Bowl Subdivision programs willing to use the triple option. Which is why Jasper will likely have to eventually accept an offer from a Football Championship Subdivision school.
“It’s always been viewed as a service-academy offense. Some people have even called it a high school offense. There have also been questions about whether you can recruit to the offense,” Jasper said when asked about the triple option’s reputation. “It’s all those things that people talk about other than what we’ve done on the football field.”
Johnson has proved at Georgia Tech that the triple option can be successful in a Power Five Conference. The Yellow Jackets have enjoyed winning records in six of nine seasons under Johnson, who has an overall record of 69-48 in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech went 10-3 and lost in the Orange Bowl in 2009, 11-3 with a win in the Orange Bowl in 2014.
Meanwhile, Navy has a winning record in 14 of the past 15 seasons while routinely posting impressive offensive numbers. There are an awful lot of downtrodden FBS programs that have not come anywhere close to totaling 75 points and 600 yards in a game.
“Coach Jasper definitely ranks right up there with Coach Niumat and Coach Johnson as far as understanding this offense. No one knows the option as well as those three men,” former Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs said. “I think Coach Jasper would be a great head coach. I’ve told him on many occasions that I would love to be his quarterbacks coach when that finally does happen.”