Transcript of the Navy Football Media Day Press Conference
Aug. 4, 2009
Niumatalolo: I would like to thank everybody for coming today. The 2009 schedule is very exciting and very challenging. It is the most challenging schedule we have faced in the 12 years that I have been here. I am very excited about our young men. Our kids worked hard this summer. They were challenged by their position coaches to get themselves ready because we knew we were facing a tough schedule. Our strength coaches (Coach Brass, Coach Woolfolk and Coach Dooman) did a phenomenal job with our kids this offseason. We are in great running shape, but now we are going to get ready for football. You don't play football in shorts.
Q. You talk about the schedule and how difficult and challenging it is this year, does the bar get raised even higher for this program to the point where the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy is no longer the end all, be all of the season with the teams you are facing this year?
Niumatalolo: Our goal is always to win the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. That goal will never change. The rest of the schedule is exciting. These kids came here wanting a chance to play against the best and to challenge their skills against teams from the Big 10, ACC, Big East or wherever. The bar is always raised high here and it will never be lowered. Our number one goal is to win the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy.
Q. Can you talk about the opener at Ohio State and how difficult that is? That's a game that could challenge you physically and then you have to come back and play a game the next week so can you tell me your thoughts on playing them as the opener?
Niumatalolo: It is definitely going to be a great challenge for us, but this season isn't any different than past seasons. You have to prepare. We know who our opponent is and we have to get ready. All you can do as a football team is prepare and when Sept. 5 comes around we will roll the ball out and see what happens.
Ross Pospisil: We are extremely privileged to play a team the caliber of Ohio State and the opportunity to play in the Horseshoe. Regardless of who the opponent is we have to prepare the same every week. It is an awesome opportunity and we are excited about it.
Q. Ricky, last year you went from the backup to starting a game and then back to a backup, has your mindset changed at all now that you are the starter?
A. Kind of, but not really. Coach Niumat 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. 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.
Niumatalolo: Coach Jasper will put enough pressure on him.
Q. Ross and Wyatt, is there a different feeling going into the season or are there higher expectations placed on you guys with so many starters returning on defense.
Middleton: Our expectations have always been the same for Navy football. We feel comfortable with the fact we have a lot of guys coming back, but that isn't going to change our preparation. We will prepare the same.
Pospisil: I think with all the experience coming back we should get better every day. We can't afford to have days where we take a step backwards. We have a lot of potential, but until you do something potential it is pretty worthless. Potential is just a word. We are going to strive together as a unit and we look forward to the year.
Q. I know one of the themes is always not getting complacent, can you explain what it is you try to reinforce to the players about not getting complacent against Army and Air Force?
Niumatalolo: I think for us it is all about the process. We know how to get there and what we need to do during the offseason. Our strength coach did a great job of getting the guys ready during the offseason and we know how we have to coach them on the field. We have to be very demanding and prepared. The season is a journey and we don't look at the end, we look at how we are going to get there. That is what we have been doing the last seven years.
Middleton: The coaches tell us we represent more than just a football team. When it says Navy across your chest you are representing a lot of people. You can't get complacent when you represent more than a football team and we take pride in that. We have to go out and get better every day.
Q. You have had so much success on the ground the past seven years, but this year you have new people at pretty much every skill position. Are you confident that you can continue that success?
Niumatalolo: We are going to continue to do what we do. Ricky has a skill set that is a little different than some of our past quarterbacks and that will help us in the passing game, although we aren't going to turn into Texas Tech or anybody. We will probably throw the ball a little bit more, but we know for us to be successful we have to run the ball and there is a whole plan behind it and why we do what we do and what we are trying to get accomplished. Our offense isn't filled with bells and whistles and it isn't real fancy, but we just want to win games.
Dobbs: As much as I would love to pass the ball on every down, I know the school that I came to features the option. We worked really hard on our own this summer getting the option down so we can continue the tradition of winning the rushing title.
Q. Is it fair to say there is a pretty decent gap between Ricky and the backups and if that is true has there been any thought of putting Ricky in a red jersey during parts of practice?
Niumatalolo: If I could put Ricky in a bubble I would do it. 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.
Dobbs: I was used to wearing a red jersey in high school, but since I've been here the only thing a red jersey has meant is that you were hurt so it is going to be different for me to wear a different jersey during practice.
Middleton: Putting Ricky in a red jersey is going to take the fun away from the defense. We love to beat up on Ricky.
Q. Can you give us a personnel update? Emmett Merchant came back after spring ball, which was big, but have you lost anybody of note since then and is everybody healthy and ready to go tomorrow? Are Nechak and Walsh ready to practice?
Niumatalolo: We haven't lost anybody off the depth chart. Walsh and Nechak both ran today, but we are going to be smart with them. Those two guys have played a ton of football for us so we are just trying to get them to the games. We are going to cut down on their reps to keep them healthy. We hit more than most people, but we have a 13-game schedule this year and we play 11-straight games so we are going to have to be smart with how we handle these guys. We are not only getting ready for Ohio State, but we are getting ready for a long season.
Q. Considering the lack of depth in the secondary are you going to move anybody to the secondary or do you expect any of the freshmen to possibly step into a back-up or nickel back role?
Niumatalolo: We are excited about some of the plebes. I don't want to mention any names, because I want to see what they do when we put the pads on, but I think there are some plebes that could make the travel squad for Ohio State.
Middleton: Coach Green will play freshmen. I think we will be fine. We have a lot of talent coming back and we have some good freshmen.