ANNAPOLIS -- It wasn't this way at Marshall University or any of George Chaump's other coaching stops. Chaump teams made a practice of storming from behind, not dissipating leads in the second half.
That's what Navy is doing this season. The Middies bolt from the gate, always score first, then find a way to lose. Going into Saturday's game at Notre Dame, they are 0-7.
"I've stayed up until 2 a.m. and searched my soul," Chaump said. "I've never had a team that did this in my life. I can't put my finger on it."
Navy has scored first in every game this year, outscoring opponents in the first quarter 52-17, and the first half 85-83. In the second half, the Middies have surrendered 111 points and scored a meager 20.
Lack of conditioning? Complacency? Failure to make halftime adjustments? Chaump has mulled over these possibilities and rejected them.
"The easy answer is to say we were outcoached and didn't make adjustments," Chaump said. "The fact is you can't make major adjustments at halftime because the team has to practice them.
"I don't know why we're giving up so many points in the second half. It's not a physical letup, because we can see in the films the players are hitting as hard in the last four minutes as they are in thefirst four."
The coaches examined the players' food menu and nutrition intake. They thought about giving them a Hershey bar at halftime. They eliminated squats and other leg-draining weightlifting work during the week.
"Players are taxed, time-wise, so much here," Chaump said. "They study until the wee hours. I tell them to get to bed by 10 p.m. and they just chuckle. I don't know if they're tired from that or what, but I do know a football player here has got to be special. It's taxing."
Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who was on Woody Hayes' staff with Chaump at Ohio State when the Buckeyes won the national championship in 1968, empathizes with his old friend.
"My first year here in 1986, we had plenty of chances to come from behind because that's where we were most of the time," Holtz said. "But it wasn't until our last game that year against Southern Cal that we came from behind in the last nine minutes to win."
In the Navy locker room, there are as many theories for the second-half collapses as there are players, to wit:
* Free safety Mark McGinnis: "Against Delaware last week, it seemed we just tried to keep from losing. You can't win when you're not aggressive. We do no wrong in the first half, then take a 180 [degree turn]. It's frustrating, but I can't pinpoint it."
* Co-captain and linebacker Byron Ogden: "Part of it might be fate or bad luck. It seems that one guy makes a mistake on one play and the offense hits us at that very spot."
* Strong safety Chad Chatlos: "It only takes one person -- 10 guys instead of 11 doing their jobs. It's not a matter of getting tired. It's a breakdown somewhere."
* Split end Tom Pritchard: "One or two plays that go the other way can make it a whole different game."
* Cornerback Rodney Purifoy: "Maybe we have to try to have fun in the second half like we do in the first. That's what I'm going to try to do at Notre Dame."
Adm. Tom Lynch, superintendent of the academy, answered a question yesterday before it was asked. No, Chaump "is not in trouble" just because Navy is 0-7. He noted that the Middies have lost five games by seven points or less.
"We've been competitive and the games have been exciting," said Lynch, captain of the last Navy team (in 1963) to beat Notre Dame. "Coach Chaump is running a sound program and he's a role model for these young men."