Mids be­gin pre­sea­son with­out as­sis­tant Jasper

The Washington Post Sunday - - PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL - BY GENE WANG gene.wang@wash­post.com

Navy Coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo typ­i­cally pro­vides an op­ti­mistic open­ing state­ment to be­gin the foot­ball team’s an­nual me­dia day. On Satur­day morn­ing at Navy-Ma­rine Corps Me­mo­rial Sta­dium, the win­ningest coach in school his­tory con­cluded those re­marks by re­veal­ing a bit of somber news.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ivin Jasper is tak­ing a leave of ab­sence for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture to be with his son Jar­ren, who is in an An­napo­lis-area hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing a sud­den, undis­closed med­i­cal emer­gency.

Jasper is in his 18th sea­son with Navy, in­clud­ing the last nine as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of one of the most pro­duc­tive rush­ing at­tacks in ma­jor col­lege foot­ball.

“I just like to close by — I nor­mally don’t do this, bring up per­sonal mat­ters — but this man pretty much sin­gle-hand­edly, no­body has been more in­stru­men­tal to the suc­cess of our foot­ball pro­gram than Ivin Jasper,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his fam­ily right now.”

Jasper missed his first prac­tice of train­ing camp Fri­day af­ter­noon, leav­ing much of the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor du­ties to Ash­ley In­gram.

In­gram, a 10 th-year as­sis­tant, is in charge of the run­ning game as well as the of­fen­sive line, among other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

The ab­sence of Jasper comes only days into what fig­ures to be a piv­otal month of prepa­ra­tion be­fore the Mid­ship­men, with a new full-time start­ing quar­ter­back, open the sea­son Sept. 1 on the road against Florida At­lantic and new Coach Lane Kif­fin.

Jasper has worked won­ders with quar­ter­backs in Navy’s triple op­tion, most no­tably record-set- ting Keenan Reynolds. He also has taught the sys­tem to other play­ers from dif­fer­ent high school foot­ball back­grounds, in­clud­ing La­mar Owens, Kaipo-Noa Ka­heaku-En­hada and Ricky Dobbs, who held a hand­ful of Navy’s rush­ing and scor­ing records be­fore Reynolds.

Last year, Jasper had Will Worth, who be­gan the sea­son as the backup, match­ing Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner La­mar Jack­son of Louisville touch­down for touch­down. But Worth broke a bone in his right foot in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game against Tem­ple on Dec. 3 in An­napo­lis, end­ing his sea­son.

En­ter third-stringer Zach Abey, then a sopho­more. With one week to pre­pare, Abey made the first start of his ca­reer last year against Army in a 21-17 loss that ended the Mid­ship­men’s record 14-game win­ning streak in the se­ries.

Jasper spent the ma­jor­ity of spring prac­tice over­see­ing Abey’s devel­op­ment, which re­mains a work in progress, ac­cord­ing to both the quar­ter­back and his coaches.

“We got off to a rough start as an of­fense this spring,” Abey said. “But I was work­ing with coach Jasper all of the sum­mer, and I re­ally feel like our of­fense got off to a great start this camp.”

So in­dis­pens­able has Jasper been to the pro­gram that, ac­cord­ing to Navy Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Chet Glad­chuk, he was in line to be­come head coach when Ni­u­mat­alolo was ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of tak­ing over the same po­si­tion at Brigham Young two years ago.

“Ivin hasn’t been with us for the last cou­ple days, but our whole team is pray­ing for him,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “Jar­ren has some crit­i­cal med­i­cal is­sues right now. Like I said, no­body’s been more in­stru­men­tal to our suc­cess than Ivin.”

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