Navy Is Better Than Its Record, But So Is 1-5 Temple


October 18, 1991|By Earl P.Schubert

It won't be easy for the Navy football team again tomorrow when it journeys to Philadelphia for a noon kickoff with Temple University.

Temple is sporting a 1-5 record, but it has played the likes of Alabama, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Penn State and West Virginia, scoring on all of them and losing to the Mountaineers by only 10-9.

Not much can be added to what has been recorded about Navy's whomping in the second-half by the Air Force Academy, 46-6, last week after playing the Falcons to a 7-6 first half.

Students of football must have recognized head coach George Chaump's excellent defensive game plan against a fine wishbone running and passing attack. It all fell apart in the final 30 minutes when the young Mids turned the ball over five times and the punting game became inconsistent and pitiful at times.

Their offensive field position was horrendous time and again, never beginning even near midfield. Air Force's adjustment to the Navy defensive alignment had great success when the Mid defenders grew weary from being on the field for so long.

Earlier in the year, some statements were heard downgrading the "boring" and "ineffective" wishbone formation, run by Navy in past years. With Air Force (6-1) averaging more than 30 points a game, including 55 against Wyoming, while running the wishbone, one is tempted to put these earlier comments to rest.

Also, that fantastic Navy effort against Notre Damelast year, scoring 31 points -- second only to Stanford's 36 againstthe Irish -- was made by using the wishbone attack.

This does notimply that the wishbone is for everyone, but certainly it cannot be described as "boring" when it is used effectively. It put Army in bowl games two out of five years.

This is only the second meeting between the Mids and Temple, the first one going to the Owls, 12-8, in 1988 during former Navy coach Elliot Uzelac's second season. The game saw the emergence of quarterback Alton Grizzard on his way to settingan all-time total offense record. One of Navy's field goal greats, Ted Funndoukas, who set a record of 11 consecutive field goals, was also on the 1988 team.

It's anyone's guess who will start the game at quarterback for Navy. Coach Chaump and the staff stuck their collective necks out last week in starting a Plebe, James Kubiak, in such apressurized ballgame.

The 204-pounder started off well and ultimately completed 10-of-25 passes for 71 yards, but was harassed the second half and intercepted three times. Still, the young Mid showed real courage and flashes of exceptional potential. He previously had never suited up in a varsity game.

With all the difficulties and disappointments for Navy this season -- and it's becoming a tragedy -- itis worth the price of admission to watch the consistently hard and inspired play of linebacker/tackle Bob Kuberski and his partners on defense Mark Ellis and Byron Ogden.

Not to downplay others who are similarly inspired, but these three could play on anybody's team. If the average fan would take their eyes off of the ball from time to time and concentrate on the battle in the trenches, they will see some exciting play.

Also giving superior efforts are Plebe split end, Tom Pritchard, and the flanker, B.J. Mason, who manage pry themselves loose consistently on pass plays.

But the bottom line is playing a complete game and scoring more points than the other guy, no matter how hard the effort.

There are a lot of conflicting opinions on theoverall performances of the Mids. If coach Chaump, as honest and capable a gentleman as one could meet, had not waxed so confidently backin early September about the improvement of this team, the results would be a little easier to assimilate.

But any coach, leader or top official who doesn't project confidence in his charges is not worthhis salt. His comments simply came on too strong, considering the youthfulness of this squad.

The Mids will need to be up again for this one tomorrow, but they really don't know any other way to play.

The Owls have a real star in senior tailback Scott McNair, who needsjust 45 yards to join the top 10 all-time rushers at Temple. He is joined by 38 other returning lettermen from Coach Jerry Berndt's 1990 team that went 7-4, including wins over Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Boston College.

They sport 6-foot-4, 340-pound nose guard Alphonso Taylor on a defensive squad that will outweigh the Mids' offense by 15 to 20 pounds per man.

Their offense shapesup similarly in weight with Navy, except for two 290-pound guards inseniors Brian Ervin and Brian Krulikowski who started every game in 1990.

With so many starters returning from last year's successful squad, their record is considered disappointing. They are expecting their multiple offense to come alive tomorrow.

The Navy Football Radio Network is one of the broadest the Midshipmen have ever had, and the game can be heard locally over WMAL in Washington and WNAV in Annapolis.

Earl Schubert, a freelance writer, is a Baltimore native who lives in Annapolis. A former football coach, he was a secondary school administrator in Missouri and Montgomery County, and worked for 17 years as a senior official in the U.S. Department of Education. His "Navy Blue and Gold" column appears every Friday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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