Navy defense aims to be simply better Chaump tries to stop opponents' big plays

September 26, 1991|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- After watching in disbelief as his team allowed touchdowns of 67 and 79 yards within three snaps in Saturday's loss to William & Mary, Navy coach George Chaump has decided on some defensive adjustments.

There won't be any personnel or coaching changes, but look for the Midshipmen to take a more simple defensive approach when they face Bowling Green on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The long scores by William & Mary were just the latest big gainers allowed in all three Navy losses. The team's inability to stop the big play has been instrumental in Chaump's first 0-3 start in his 10 seasons as a college head coach.

"We going to make some changes on defense -- we're going to cut in half what we're doing," said Chaump, whose team is allowing 414.7 yards a game in total defense. "We're going to do fewer things, and do them well. We've been guilty of doing too many things, and not doing them well enough."

Chaump declined to reveal any other details for turning around a defense that has allowed three scoring plays of more than 60 yards and has allowed opponents to convert 22 of 42 third-down plays for first downs.

"We've moved the ball against everybody, and we've stopped everybody for a while," Chaump said. "The whole thing in a nutshell is we have to stop giving up the big plays on defense. I've never had two big plays break in three snaps like they did [against William & Mary]."

Although Chaump probably would be the last to admit it, what started as a season of promise is suddenly on the brink of disaster. The loss to William & Mary -- which made it the seventh straight season that Navy has lost to a Division I-AA team -- probably has resulted in more heat than Chaump previously has experienced as a college coach.

"You read so many columns in the paper," Chaump said, "I wonder if I should retire, get the hell out of this game and sell insurance.

"It is frustrating," Chaump said of the losing. "One thing you don't want to do is feel sorry about yourself. The thing you can't do is let [frustration] transcend to the team. You have a job to do."

As usual, Chaump chose to focus on the positives he's picked up while watching tapes of the three games.

"It's hard to convince people that we're 0-3, and could be 3-0," Chaump said. "I still think we're a good football team, and, if we stop big plays, we can win. I still have a lot of confidence in the players."

Against Bowling Green, Navy will be facing a team that apparently has turned around its program. The Falcons were 3-5-2 last season, their fifth straight losing season. Under first-year coach Gary Blackney, Bowling Green is 2-1 -- its best start since 1985, when the Falcons went 11-0 before losing to Fresno State in the California Bowl. The team's only loss was a 24-17 defeat at West Virginia two weeks ago.

"We're a team that's struggling, and we're facing a good team," Chaump said. "We'll just have to tighten up and play mistake-free football if we're going to stay with Bowling Green."

Hitting it big

Big plays allowed by Navy's defense that have played a role in the team's 0-3 start:

Opponent.. .. .Big play (resulting score).. .. .. ..Final score

Ball State ... .60-yard TD by Corey Croom .. .. .. ..Ball State, 33-10

. .. .. .. .. .(Ball State 14, Navy 3)

Virginia.. ... 23-yard catch by Terrance Tomlin on..Virginia, 17-10

. .. .. .. .. .third-and-10 (led to TD eight plays

. .. .. .. .. .later for 17-10 lead)

William & Mary 67-yard TD catch by Alan Williams. ..W&M, 26-21

. .. .. .. ... (W&M 10, Navy 3)

William & Mary 79-yard TD run by Robert Green. .. ..W&M, 26-21

. .. .. .. .. (W&M 17, Navy 3)

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