Optimism reigns on wet Midshipmen Navy's bad breaks: rain and starter's fractured foot

August 18, 1992|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- It didn't start out to be the best of days for the Navy football team.

Yesterday morning -- the second day of practice -- defensive end David Shaw broke his foot trying to execute a simple cone drill. Later, the inclement weather forced the team's picture day indoors -- the first time that had happened in at least 20 years.

But the injury and bad weather aside, there were no dampened spirits among the Midshipmen yesterday as Navy continued its preparation for the 1992 season. Despite last year's 1-10 record, the players to a man were talking the talk of winners -- even to the point of welcoming what's expected to be a grueling schedule.

"It's great, just great," said sophomore quarterback Jim Kubiak, who smiled when asked about the schedule that includes three bowl teams (Virginia, Notre Dame and Air Force) and one NCAA Division I-AA playoff team (Delaware) from a year ago. "I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm not backing down from anyone. We're coming with everything we have."

Well, maybe not quite everything after Shaw became the first casualty of preseason practice. Running a drill through cones on the artificial turf of Navy's practice field, the junior who started seven games at defensive end last season broke his right foot in what can best be described as a freakish accident.

"I planted my foot and my foot stayed -- but the rest of my body went," said Shaw, who will have an operation tomorrow to have a pin placed in his foot. "They say [he will be out] three to six weeks, but I'm going to make it back for Virginia [the opener, Sept. 12]. That's my goal."

It was another blow for Shaw, who played every game last season except Navy's win over Army. He watched that game from a hospital bed, after an operation for a hand infection.

"I missed our only victory last year, and that really hurt watching from the hospital," said Shaw, who was fifth on the team with 79 tackles last season. "And for the first day of practice to get set back hurts, but I have to keep my confidence up. I just hope I can get back and get my position back."

Coach George Chaump is expecting a fierce battle for positions with less than a month until the opener. Based on what he saw during the morning practice yesterday, Chaump expects a team ready to give a better showing than a year ago.

"Being around these players is just a great thrill," said Chaump, 6-16 in two years at Navy. "This is a football team I think everybody is going to love."

Chaump realizes that many forecasters feel this is a team that Navy opponents are expected to love.

" 'Tougher schedule, hard time matching last year's record, a better football team, but their record may not indicate it,' " Chaump said of the football previews of Navy that he has read. "I don't know if they're right or wrong. I do know this: We are definitely a better football team."

At least they're stronger, and Chaump had the numbers to back him up.

When he arrived at Navy in 1990, nine players were able to bench-press 350 pounds or more. This year the number is 23. That first year, the Midshipmen had 50 players who could lift 300 pounds or more. Now that figure is at 70.

"We have a lot more men who are stronger, and I know the men are working harder," Chaump said. "We have a faster team than we've had in a long while."

And what Chaump also has is a strong-armed quarterback, Kubiak, whose throwing style is one that Chaump has longed for since arriving at Navy. He also has a new defensive coordinator, Greg McMackin, whose players love the attacking style that made Utah a success last year.

One thing was clear yesterday -- tough schedule or not, everyone was ready to give it a go.

"We're playing some good people, and we're going to have to rise to the occasion to do our best," Chaump said. "If we do beat some [of the tough teams on the schedule], what it does is gets you a bit more attention. I have a lot of confidence in these young men."

Navy's 1992 football schedule

Date... ... ... Opponent... ... ... ... ... ... .....Time

Sept. 12... ... . Virginia... ... ... ... ... ... ... . 7

Sept. 19... ... . At Boston College... ... ... ... . 1:30

Sept. 26... ... . Rutgers... ... ... ... ... ... ... 1:30

Oct. 3... ... ... At North Carolina... ... ... ... . 1:30

Oct. 10... ... .. At Air Force... ... ... ... ... ... . 2

Oct. 24... ... .. Delaware... ... ... ... ... ... .. 1:30

Oct. 31... ... .. Notre Dame-x... ... ... ... ... .. Noon

Nov. 7... ... ... Tulane... ... ... ... ... ... ... .1:30

Nov. 14... ... .. Vanderbilt... ... ... ... ... ... .1:30

Nov. 21... ... .. At Rice... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. 2

Dec. 5... ... ... Army-y... ... ... ... ... ... ... 12:10

x-at East Rutherford, N.J.

y-at Philadelphia

For ticket information, call the Naval Academy Athletic Association Ticket Offices at (800) US4-NAVY.

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