Navy to face heavyweights in new season

NAVY BLUE AND GOLD

August 28, 1992|By Earl P. Schubert

There is good news, and what appears to be some bad news coming out of the Naval Academy football office these days as the new season fast approaches.

The good news is that any further reference to a so-called "no name" or "soft" football schedule can be put to rest.

After an extended effort for Athletic Director Jack Lengyel to realign the football schedule, he has come up with the most interesting and challenging schedule in recent memory.

Not only does each opponent in 1992 have a strong, long-standing national football tradition, but institutions with exceptional academic credentials also are featured. It's a schedule mix that should satisfy most academy supporters.

Schools such as Vanderbilt, Rice, Tulane, North Carolina, Rutgers and Boston College added to a schedule that already included Virginia, Notre Dame, Air Force and Army and lend a sense of anticipation and excitement to the upcoming season.

As to future opponents, Lengyel has added Southern Methodist, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Colgate to upcoming schedules.

The seeming bad news at the moment is that former football powers such as Rice, Vanderbilt, Tulane and Rutgers are in the middle of a definite upswing in their football fortunes.

Rice, for example, a member of the wild Southwest Conference, is being labeled in Texas as the "new look Owls." Its program has survived the onslaught of a professor's lobby that wanted football eliminated to "protect academic integrity."

With 42 strong returning lettermen from a 4-7 season, experts are picking Rice over the likes of Baylor, TCU, Houston and SMU, and are set to challenge Texas and Texas Tech for a bowl bid.

Texas A & M appears to be in a class of its own in the Southwest.

Vanderbilt is no longer the patsy of the rugged Southeastern Conference, and various scribes have picked it to beat Tennessee and South Carolina, for example, as it continues to regain past football respectability.

The same can be applied to Big East Rutgers coming off a 6-5 season with All-American/Heisman Trophy candidate Bryan Fortay at quarterback and hard-charging Antoine More at running back.

Close behind in the Big East is the always dangerous Boston College, which must contend with a schedule that includes Michigan State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Syracuse.

Navy's one Division I-AA opponent, Delaware at homecoming, happens to be the Yankee Conference defending champion and a national I-AA playoff participant.

Navy head coach George Chaump said, "It's the toughest schedule in recent years."

He is quick to recognize some good signs, however, in the return of a veteran quarterback who can throw the ball. Sophomore Jim Kubiak had a .604 completion average in 154 passing attempts. He will have two excellent receivers in sophomore Tom Pritchard and Kevin Hickman.

Lettermen Jason Van Matre (who also can throw the ball), Duke Ingraham, Mike Jefferson and Jimmy Screen are potentially outstanding running backs behind an offensive line that will average 253 pounds.

Chaump sees the greatest improvement on defense with the addition of the new defensive coordinator, Greg McMackin, who helped make Utah a power in the Western Conference.

All-East selection Bob Kuberski, along with co-captain Chad Chatlos and David Shaw, form a better-than-average nucleus on defense that may be somewhat handicapped in overall size this year.

The opener with Virginia at home on Saturday night, Sept. 12, should give an initial indication of the direction the season will go. Virginia is coming off a Gator Bowl defeat by Oklahoma and is hoping to better its 8-2-1 regular-season record in 1991.

Other 1991 bowl teams to be met down the line are Air Force (which beat Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl) and Notre Dame (which beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl).

Earl Schubert, a free-lance writer, is a Baltimore native who live 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.

Naval Academy schedule

SEPT. 12... ... ... Virginia... ... ...H... ... 7:00 p.m.

... ..19... ... ... Boston Col... ... .A... ... 1:30 p.m.

.. ...26... ... ... Rutgers... ... ... H... ... 1:30 p.m.

OCT... 3... ... ... North Carolina... .A... ... 1:30 p.m.

... ..10... ... ... Air Force... ... . A... ... 2:00 p.m.

... ..24... ... ... Delaware... ... .. H... ... 1:30 p.m.

... ..31... ... ... Notre Dame... ... .A... ... Noon... .

NOV... 7... ... ... Tulane... ... .... H... ... 1:30 p.m.

... ..14.. ... ... .Vanderbilt... ... .H... ... 1:30 p.m.

... ..21... ... ... Rice... ... ... .. A... ... 2:00 p.m.

DEC... 5... ... ... Army... ... ... .. H... ... Noon... .

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