ANNAPOLIS -- Coach George Chaump sees all these Nav freshmen and sophomores performing before him, and he's not sure what to make of the spectacle.
No fewer than seven plebes are making major contributions. Tom Pritchard, the Mids' leading receiver, has started since the opener, the first plebe to do that since World War II.
Another freshman, Jim Kubiak, has started once and may start again when the 0-6 Middies entertain 6-1 Delaware Saturday in their homecoming game at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
Six sophomores start, half of them on offense. Chaump would like to think this speaks well for the future of Navy football and that it's a sign he has recruited well in his two years here.
"I'm not sure it's good or bad," Chaump said. "I'd rather have freshmen and sophomores playing a jayvee schedule, so they have something to look forward to as juniors and seniors."
For better or worse, then, Chaump is stuck, or blessed, with youth. It is exemplified by the situation at quarterback: Will sophomore (Jason Van Matre) or the plebe (Kubiak) start against Division I-AA Delaware?
It'll probably be Kubiak, since Van Matre suffered a bruised right (throwing) shoulder on the first drive in last week's loss to Temple but continued to play.
"Jason is too valuable to stay on the bench," Chaump said. "If he can't lift his arm to throw, we'll put him at tailback."
Van Matre is a running quarterback. Even when his shoulder doesn't hurt, he can't throw with Kubiak. Van Matre came to Navy as a quarterback, but, in recognition of his athletic ability, Chaump used him at tailback last season as an introduction to college football.
"Playing tailback last year gave me some time and a feel for the crowds, but my goal was to be the quarterback," Van Matre said. "I don't have an arm like Kubiak. That boy has a gun. But I'm not going to pout if I don't play quarterback. I'll do whatever I can."
If Van Matre does dabble at tailback Saturday, it'll be in relief of Vinnie Smith, a story in himself. A junior from Durham, N.C., Smith rushed for 87 yards, a Navy season high, against Temple in his first start ever for the Middies.
Smith played for the plebe/jayvee team his first two years here, and didn't sample varsity action until two weeks ago against Air Force. He was slow in surfacing this year in part because he spent last spring with the track team as a sprinter rather than with Chaump and because he had a groin injury earlier this fall.
From No. 6 on the depth chart, where he was in August, Smith has come a long way.
Co-captain and wide receiver B.J. Mason suffered a bruised shoulder against Temple and may be forced to yield to freshman Mike Jefferson. Fullback Brad Stramanak has a bad knee and VTC probably will be replaced by tailback Duke Ingraham.
Delaware quarterback Bill Vergantino rushed for four touchdowns to tie a school record in last week's win over previously unbeaten Villanova. A junior, Vergantino is second in career total offense at Delaware with 5,558 yards.
The Blue Hens' 6-1 start is their best since 1982 when they went to the Division I-AA championship game and lost to Eastern Kentucky.
"Delaware knows how to move the football," Chaump said, noting Delaware's 32 points-per-game average. "The one game they lost was to a good New Hampshire team, and they had eight turnovers in that one. We can't count on that."