N. Carolina remembers Navy's '89 win

October 03, 1992|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Never mind that the 1989 North Carolina team lost, 50-17, to Virginia. That it was shut out by Maryland, 38-0. That it was crushed by Duke, 41-0, in the last game of a 1-10 season. For Tar Heels coach Mack Brown, it was the fourth game of that season, a 12-7 home loss to Navy, that really struck a nerve.

"It was one of the lowest times in my life . . . as far as sports is concerned," Brown said this week. "I felt we had better players. I felt like we should have won the game."

If Brown thought that feeling was low, it will be nothing like the feeling he will have tonight if his Tar Heels (3-1) roll over again against Navy (0-3) this afternoon at Kenan Memorial Stadium.

North Carolina hasn't had a losing season since 1989, which began with a win over Virginia Military Institute and ended with 10 straight defeats. The only factor that could possibly hurt North Carolina would be if the players are looking ahead to next week's game at Florida State.

But don't look for that to affect North Carolina, still bothered by last week's loss to North Carolina State. That North Carolina lost to Navy in the last meeting -- and is looking to make its first bowl appearance since 1986 -- should be enough to inspire the Tar Heels.

"I respect George Chaump, and I know he'll have his team ready to go," Brown said. "Navy won here three years ago and is 2-1 in Chapel Hill. We'll be ready."

North Carolina is a physical team led by junior Natrone Means, a 5-foot-10, 228-pound tailback who has scored seven touchdowns. Means is one of many North Carolina players who had Chaump cringing while watching game films.

"North Carolina, on film, is as good or better than any team we've played," Chaump said. "They're scary because they're so big."

There was also a big size advantage in 1989, when the teams played in a rainstorm. Navy, coming off a 14-10 home loss to The Citadel, scored late in the fourth quarter that day and held off North Carolina.

But that Navy team was able to score, something this squad has yet to do. Chaump will be counting on better results from the expected option offense the Midshipmen will run should Jason Van Matre start at quarterback, as expected.

"Van Matre's going through the motions, but he can hardly run," Chaump said of the junior, who suffered a hip pointer last week against Rutgers. "I hope by [today] that he can come around."

Chaump has to hope that his offense can come around after barely showing anything in the first three games. The 121-0 scoring deficit has been as bad as it sounds.

Although it's not apparent, the defense has improved after looking awful in the 53-0 season opener against Virginia. It played well at times in the 40-0 loss against Rutgers but still is giving up 464 yards per game in total offense.

"The defense did a good job. At times, they did an outstanding job," Chaump said of the Rutgers game. "But as many big plays they make, you just don't like giving up over 400 yards."

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