Navy could not have planned the transition from record-setting quarterback Ricky Dobbs any better. Well, there is one thing coach Ken Niumatalolo wishes he could have back.
Tape of Kriss Proctor running the offense last season.
That is how confident Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper are in Proctor and what he will bring to the Midshipmen in 2011.
“Coach Jasper and I have always said this: ‘We are so excited about Kriss. He had the misfortune I guess you could say of playing behind Ricky,” Niumatalolo said in a phone interview. “Part of me wished he didn't play last year so we could spring him on teams who might think, ‘Oh poor Navy they lost Ricky’ and not knowing we had Kriss Proctor behind. We know from an athletic standpoint he's as athletic as any quarterback we’ve ever had here.”
Proctor has not given his coaches any reason for concern as Navy heads into its spring game Friday. He is the ideal quarterback to play the triple option because of his athleticism and ability to run the ball. He has game experience, having started games in 2009 and 2010 when Dobbs was injured.
He has got a backfield as deep and talented as any Niumatalolo has had with Alexander Teich, Gee Gee Greene, Aaron Santiago, Bo Snelson and John Howell to name a few. Plus, Proctor is one of the hardest working players in the weight room, and his example has been an easy one for his teammates to follow.
That should help ease any pressure Proctor might feel in replacing Dobbs, one of the best players in Naval Academy history.
“There's always pressure when a guy comes in when the guy before him has been so successful, but I don't let that bother me. I don't let that get to me,” Proctor said in a phone interview. “I do what I'm told and do what I have to get done, and I let everybody else sort that out.”
While Proctor is a better runner than Dobbs, he is also a weaker passer. That has been a point of emphasis during the spring. But since Navy relies so heavily on running the ball, Proctor is an ideal fit. In his start against Central Michigan last season, Proctor ran for 201 yards and a touchdown in the 38-37 win. He came to Navy from a triple-option style offense, so that certainly has helped him understand what to do.
But even still, Proctor gives Navy more options in the triple option because he is such a dynamic runner. Expect to see some new wrinkles.
“I just think my speed and my option influence in the offense is really going to spark some big things,” Proctor said. "It will still look like the option, but maybe a little faster with a few different quirks."
Proctor is also different in the way he leads the team. Where Dobbs was a quiet leader, Proctor is way more vocal, a cheerleader who has already screamed plenty during practice. He isn’t afraid of head butting linemen, either.
How he responds as the full-time starter will be a story line to watch for Navy this season as the Midshipmen try to regain the Commander-in-Chief Trophy -- a huge source of motivation for the entire team.