ANNAPOLIS -- Jim Kubiak is gone, possibly for the season Brian Ellis is gone, definitely for the season. So, with its top two quarterbacks out with injuries and its offense sputtering after two games, there are questions galore surrounding the Navy football team:
Will third-string quarterback Steve Seoane get the start, or does the nod go to first-team tailback Jason Van Matre, the starting quarterback for part of last season? And will the Midshipmen run an option attack, or continue with the pro-style set that's preferred by coach George Chaump?
"It's very difficult going into a game not knowing who you're going to see," Rutgers coach Doug Graber said yesterday. "It puts us in total disarray."
If the opposing coach feels that way, imagine what's going through the mind of Navy coach George Chaump, whose offense has yet to get in gear -- and has failed to end a drive inside an opponent's 30-yard line -- in losing its first two games by a combined score of 81-0. From Chaump's statements yesterday, it's unlikely that a starter will be named until just before Saturday's game.
"Who is it? I honestly don't know," said Chaump, who has worked Seoane and Van Matre at quarterback this week. "Van Matre's played a lot of games at quarterback, and if he comes alive and we think he's going to set the world on fire, he's the starting quarterback. But, now, we're going with Seoane."
Should Chaump stay with Seoane, he'll be able to maintain the pro-style offense that was planned this season with Kubiak as the centerpiece. A senior political science major out of Tampa, Fla., Seoane is said to have a strong arm, but had not made a varsity appearance until entering the 28-0 loss at Boston College last week. After replacing Ellis, who suffered a broken jaw in the third quarter, Seoane completed two of five passes and threw two interceptions.
A switch to Van Matre, who yesterday still was listed as the starting tailback, could mean revamping Navy's offensive scheme. When Van Matre started at quarterback for six games last season, Navy went more with a running attack. When he did throw, Van Matre completed 42 of 83 passes for 461 yards, with three touchdowns and five interceptions.
"Before [you] write Jason Van Matre off, he can throw the ball," Chaump said. "If he plays [quarterback], he will throw the football."
With the additional loss of fullback Duke Ingraham (sprained knee, possibly out for the season), Chaump will have to work some magic to jump-start his offense. Through two games, Navy has 11 rushing first downs and has a 999-369 disadvantage in total offensive yards.
"We never got into what we wanted to do offensively this year. We do have an offensive crisis, and we're working hard to get around it," Chaump said. "We have to modify what we have left in our offense and try to come up with a way to move the ball."
It would seem that Navy might catch a break this week with the suspension of Rutgers starting defensive backs Malik Jackson and Jay Bellamy, who were involved in an on-campus altercation Saturday morning. But, then again, with Navy's offensive woes, maybe not.
"Playing us with the situation with our passing game, I don't think they'll be affected at all," Chaump said.
It appears to be a helpless situation for Navy, whose schedule this week was rated the second-toughest in the nation, behind USC. His team has yet to come close to scoring, and its ranks have been thinned by injuries, but Chaump said he is trying to keep his players focused during what might turn out to be a long season.
"I spoke to the New York media, and they had us buried and dead," Chaump said. "But we don't want sympathy.
"Our day will come," he added. "Things haven't been going our way exactly. The law of averages will catch up. Our program is in great shape. We'll do it."
Navy, with injuries to its top two quarterbacks, has had a hard TTC time moving the ball this season, with no drive ending past an opponent's 30-yard line. These are the top 10 Navy drives this season:
Drive.. .. .. .. .. Drive
started.. .. .. .. .ended.. ... .. .. .. .. .. How
Navy 1.. .. .. .. .B.C. 32.. .. .. .. .. .. ..int.
Navy 10.. .. .. .. B.C. 32.. .. .. .. .. .. .downs
Navy 10.. .. .. .. B.C. 32.. .. ... .. .. .. .half
Navy 21.. .. .. .. Va. 33.. .. .. .. .. .. ..downs
Navy 20.. .. .. .. B.C. 39.. .. .. .. .. .. ..punt
Navy 20.. .. .. .. Va. 41.. .. .. .. .. .. .fumble
Navy 41.. .. .. ..midfield.. .. .. .. .. .. ..punt
Navy 13.. .. .. ..Navy 49.. .. .. .. .. .. .. int.
Navy 20.. .. .. ..Navy 49.. .. .. .. .. .. ..downs
Navy 20.. .. .. ..Navy 47.. .. .. .. .. .. ...punt