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Dobbs leads potent triple option attack for Midshipmen

Sam Werner | Friday, November 6, 2009

With the triple option offensive system that Navy runs, the quarterback position is slightly different than at other schools.

While Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen has attempted 257 passes so far this season, the man under center for the Midshipmen, junior Ricky Dobbs, has thrown only 66. Dobbs has, however, rushed for 595 yards and an eye-popping 16 touchdowns on the season.

“As much as I would love to pass the ball on every down, I know the school that I came to features the option,” Dobbs said at Navy’s pre-season media day. “We worked really hard on our own this summer getting the option down so we can continue the tradition of winning the rushing title.”

Last season, Dobbs played in eight of Navy’s 13 games, rushing for 495 yards and eight touchdowns on only 106 carriers, good for a 4.7 yards per carry average.

With the graduation of Jarod Bryant and Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Dobbs entered this season as the unquestioned starter.

“[Navy] coach [Ken Niumatalolo] told me last year to always prepare like I was the starter and I did that, so really the only thing that has changed is that I really am the starter,” Dobbs said. “I have always prepared like I was the starter. I just have to make sure I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself, because doing so will only drive me into the dirt and I will try to become somebody that I’m not.”

Last season, Navy had three legitimate options at quarterback in Dobbs, Bryant and Kaheaku-Enhada. This year, though, Dobbs and sophomore Kriss Proctor are the only non-freshmen on the Midshipmen roster.

“If I could put Ricky in a bubble I would do it,” Niumatalolo said at Navy’s pre-season media day. “We are not as deep at that position as we have been in the past. We have some young guys we are very excited about. I am very excited about Kriss Proctor, but he is a young quarterback and he has a ways to go to become the starter.”

Niutmatalolo’s worst fears came true, though, when Dobbs injured his right knee against Southern Methodist on Oct. 17. The Midshipmen needed overtime to beat the Mustangs, and only managed 13 points in a win over Wake Forest the next week. Navy didn’t throw a single pass against the Demon Deacons.

Against Temple on Oct. 31, the impact of Dobbs’ injury was felt in full. Even though Dobbs played in limited action against the Owls, he wasn’t at full strength and Navy lost 27-24 to drop its record to 6-3 on the season.

Dobbs is back to full strength for this week’s game, though, and could give himself the highlight of his career with a good performance, or even a win, against the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium.