For Moore, Moving To Center Is No Snap
Friday, August 22, 2008
Ricky Moore figures he was a bit of a nuisance for Navy's quarterbacks during spring football practices. But he had to be: The senior offensive lineman was making the switch from tackle to center, and he needed all the practice he could get snapping the ball.
"I'd be at their lockers all the time, asking, 'Can we get some snaps? We've got to get this thing shored up,' " said Moore, who was instructed by Coach Ken Niumatalolo to take "thousands" of snaps over the spring and summer. "The center-quarterback exchange, we've got to get that solidified, and you have to get used to every quarterback. There's a different place I have to put the ball, it seems, for every quarterback."
Moore was a linebacker at Northern High in Waldorf, was recruited by Navy as a defensive lineman, and played sparingly at tackle last season. But he wasn't totally surprised when he was moved to center in the spring; the Midshipmen had no clear-cut candidates to replace Antron Harper, the heart of the line that helped Navy lead the nation in rushing.
At 6 feet 4 and 295 pounds, Moore is Navy's biggest lineman, and his size and strength -- he squats a team-best 600 pounds -- are two of the reasons the coaching staff chose him to make the move.
"We want a guy that, when they line up a nose guard on us, he can hold his own," offensive line coach Ashley Ingram said. "We thought he could do that."
The transition has been challenging, and Moore has worked hard on both his technique and conditioning to get ready for the season, which begins Aug. 30 against Towson. He has to be ready and able to play an entire game, something he hasn't had to do before at Navy.
"I remember looking back at Antron last year, and I could count on one hand the times he came out of the game," Moore said. "You want that center to stay in the game, because you want that quarterback-center cohesion. He's the one seeing the linebacker stances and D-line stances all game long."
Moore is still "a work in progress," according to Ingram, but then so is the offensive line as a whole. Left guard Anthony Gaskins is the lone returning starter, though right tackle Andrew McGinn started the first seven games before injuring his ankle. The line did not perform well in the team's two scrimmages.
"If you think about it, from last year's offensive line, we lost four starters," Ingram said. "Then you take a guy like Ricky and move him around. I think that there needs to be a cohesiveness and it just takes some time, takes some reps, takes lining up and playing with each other."
Niumatalolo said that a determination on whether quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada will play in the season opener will be made early next week. Kaheaku-Enhada injured his left hamstring during the team's first scrimmage on Aug. 9 and has not played since. If he is unable to practice on Monday and Tuesday, then senior Jarod Bryant will start against Towson.
Kaheaku-Enhada spent all last week in the training room getting treatment (ice, whirlpool, massage, electrostimulation). This week, he has been watching practice from the sidelines and doing some light jogging. Niumatalolo said that Kaheaku-Enhada's range of motion is coming back, but that his leg is still weak.
"Ideally, if he could come back next week and have a full week [of practice], that'd be great," Niumatalolo said. "More so than the mental part, it's the physical part -- running, getting hit. He knows what to do." . . .
Third-string quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who missed the Aug. 16 scrimmage because of a shoulder injury, returned to practice Wednesday, as did freshman fullback Alex Teich, who injured his right ankle in the scrimmage. . . .
Navy's situational scrimmage today is closed to the public.