Navy and Virginia ready for 'barn burner'

NAVY BLUE AND GOLD

September 11, 1992|By Earl P. Schubert

More than a century ago, in Virginia, the "bread basket" of the Confederacy, when the name McClellan was mentioned, the local folks invariably would respond that "it's going to be a barn-burning night."

In the vernacular of the gridiron, tomorrow night's game between the Virginia Cavaliers from Charlottesville and Navy at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium is shaping up as an old-fashioned barn-burner itself, and for good reason.

Virginia's defeat of the Maryland Terrapins last week wasn't all that convincing, and certainly not characteristic of a top 25 team on its way to another bowl. It took three fourth-quarter scores to finally come out with a 28-15 win.

Yet, Coach George Welsh's charges have the talent and the size to go all the way again once the mistakes are minimized and the offensive attack coordinated. They will be coming up here tomorrow to prove something, and to regain national recognition, which means a special all-out aggressive effort.

Meanwhile, chomping at the bit to hit somebody besides their own teammates is a team that hardly can wait for the kickoff. It's still a young outfit, but with a year's experience playing against top competition and finishing up with that extraordinary win against Army in front of the whole world.

Spirited, confident, most of the guys on the squad couldn't care less as to who is on the other side of the scrimmage line. It's up to Coach George Chaump and his staff to channel all that energy and talent into a realistic, cohesive and well-balanced offensive and defensive machine.

Actually, what has Navy really going for it this year?

Offensively, the potential appears to be brighter than it has been in years.

To begin with, Navy goes into the season with an experienced quarterback who can throw the ball in sophomore Jim Kubiak, backed up by seniors Brian Ellis and Steve Seone with former California high school sensation Tony Saledor trying to move up on the depth chart.

But Kubiak is the man of the moment with an array of goorunners that includes Jason Van Matre, Billy James, Duke Ingraham, Mike Jefferson and Jimmy Screen.

Two excellent receivers starting tomorrow night are split end Tom Prichard and tight end Kevin Hickman.

The offensive line this year, led by center Steve Palmer (26pounds), Max Lane (283), Dan Pidgeon (276), Blair Sokol (268) and Greg Hubbard (256), will be a bit heavier than last.

New defensive coordinator Greg McMackin has his new job cut out for him. New defensive schemes have been readily accepted by the squad, but not a whole lot of experience is available.

All-East tackle Bob Kuberski, Ches Snider, Robert Goodson and David Shaw return to the defensive line, with Chris Hart and co-captain Chad Chatlos anchoring the defensive secondary. In terms of experience, the defensive alignment is pretty thin and ,, will be outweighed most of the season.

As for Virginia, its big offensive threat is Terry Kirby who, last season, was the first Cavalier to lead Virginia in both rushing and receiving the same year. Quarterback Bobby Goodman pulled his team out last week with some last-minute heroics, but he is it with only two other games under his belt last year when Matt Blundin was injured.

Overall, this is a big, tough Virginia team that is expected to give Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech a real run for the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

The barn-burning starts at 7 tomorrow night. It should be a dandy -- don't miss it.

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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