QB suddenly a strength for Navy

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Miller, Reynolds both excel against Air Force

When he compared Navy quarterbacks Trey Miller and Keenan Reynolds to Roger Staubach last week, Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun seemed to be channeling ex-Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, legendary for his flowery assessments of Navy.

But in the Mids' 28-21 overtime victory Saturday in Colorado Springs, Calhoun's words proved prophetic. While Miller (18 carries, 110 yards) flashed the legs of Staubach, Reynolds showed the arm and charisma of the former Navy great, leading two clutch touchdown drives -- one to tie it and the other to win it.

In one afternoon, the quarterbacks turned Navy's season around and a position of supposed weakness became one of strength. As the Mids (2-3) prepare for a rare Friday night date at Central Michigan (2-3), the question is: Who will start under center?

Up next
Navy at Central Michigan
When » Friday, 8 p.m.
Where » Kelly/Shorts Stadium,
Mount Pleasant, Mich.
TV » ESPN2

There were few answers at practice Monday. Miller's left ankle was encased in a walking boot, while Reynolds took snaps with the first team. Miller's status will become clear as the week progresses. He expects to practice Tuesday.

"Before Trey got hurt, he was playing well. Obviously Keenan came in and did some good things," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Right now Trey can't practice. So we'll kind of let it play itself out, let them battle a little bit."

Miller said Monday he felt good and planned to be ready against Central Michigan. Before the Air Force game, the junior was throwing well (31-for-55, 357 yards) but having a disastrous season otherwise, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry and committing 10 turnovers.

But the Navy coaches believe in his dual-threat skills. Miller rewarded their faith with a stellar, error-free performance before he was hurt in the fourth quarter Saturday.

"Trey played great," Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said. "I'm just happy we have two guys who can go in and win the football game for us."

Before Air Force, Navy wasn't sure about either. Reynolds, a freshman, had played well in mop-up duty and handled everything that had been thrown his way despite coming to Annapolis straight out of Goodpasture Christian High in the suburbs of Nashville, Tenn.

Navy already knew about Reynolds' quickness, elusiveness and accurate arm. What it discovered Saturday, however, is that he may have a transcendent feel for the position.

"The kid's special," Jasper said. "I think about Ricky [Dobbs]. It's just an 'it' factor, the stuff you can't coach."

There was no more pressurized situation than the one Reynolds entered Saturday -- nine minutes left, on the road and Navy down 21-14 to one of its bitter rivals. In six plays, Reynolds took them 75 yards. He completed all three of his passes for 55 yards, then capped off the march with a 15-yard touchdown run.

In the opening possession of overtime, Navy went 25 yards on six plays. The last one was Reynolds' fumble at the goal line that was recovered by Mids sophomore guard Jake Zuzek for a touchdown.

"For a minute my heart stopped," Reynolds said. "I didn't want to be the one to let my brothers down."

Staubach couldn't have said it better.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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