Army-Navy a clash of formations


December 04, 1992|By EARL SCHUBERT

Well-informed football enthusiasts who take the game seriously will have an opportunity to compare two distinctively different offensive formations tomorrow at 12:10 p.m. in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium when Navy (1-9) meets Army (4-6).

In this, the 93rd renewal of one of the nation's great traditional rivalries, the Cadets will come in with their wishbone attack that is ranked among the national leaders in rushing with a 276-yard average, good enough to be tied with Notre Dame for third behind Nebraska and Hawaii. The Mids' offense, on the other hand, features the running and passing of junior quarterback Jason Van Matre out of the I-bone formation.

Second-year Army coach Bob Sutton has continued the wishbone since Jim Young introduced it successfully in 1984. Sutton and Navy coach George Chaump have adapted their offensive plans to the material at hand.

Both teams met with unexpected disaster at quarterback early in the season. With only two offensive starters from 1991 starting for the Cadets (no one in the backfield), sophomore quarterback Mike Makovek went down with a season-ending injury during the first month of the season. Another sophomore, Rick Roper, who hadn't played in a varsity game, took over, followed on the depth chart by two Plebes.

Navy had to start three players at quarterback in the first three games because of injuries, and the Mids went three games without their top four returning running backs.

In spite of this, as the season progressed, each team made significant progress although their records are not impressive.

Navy met four Top 25 teams and the nation's second-best Division I-AA team in Delaware. Army met two in North Carolina and Boston College in a softened 11-game schedule. Both lost to Boston College, Rutgers and Air Force, although Navy believes an officiating error cost it a win over Air Force.

The defensive matchup between Army and Navy is very interesting, with both teams boasting several outstanding individuals.

Army free safety Mike McElrath is an All-East pick and a third-team All-American by Football News. He also has been named one of the 1992 National Scholar Athlete recipients by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Senior tackle Dan Davis and junior inside linebacker Kevin Czarnecki were named East honorees for outstanding games.

After making 14 tackles against Rice, nine unassisted, junior Javier Zuluaga continues to stand out for the Mids on defense along with veterans Bob Kuberski at tackle and Chad Chatlos at free safety. These defensive stars at each school, along with several others, could play for any team in the nation.

Both teams feature several good special-teams players. Army's Chad Davis continues to rank among the nation's leaders in returning kickoffs, and Patmon Malcom has recorded 23 of 23 extra points and seven of 15 field goals. One of Navy's pleasant surprises has been the superb punting of freshman Brian Schrum and the place-kicking of sophomore Tim Rogers.

Although Army emphasizes its intricate rushing offense, for the first time since 1987 it has thrown more than 100 passes, completing 58 for 713 yards and three touchdowns, mostly to leading receiver Paul Andrzejewski.

Navy's two fine ends, sophomores Kevin Hickman and Tom Pritchard, have received 26 and 11 passes, respectively, from Van Matre, and wide receivers Jimmy Screen and Mike Jefferson have caught 25.

All in all, this should be another Army-Navy thriller, featuring quality football for 60 minutes.

The Cadets will march into the stadium at 9:45 a.m., and the Brigade of Mids at 10:20 a.m. Radios, shortwave and otherwise, and television will be providing the action around the globe to ships at sea and every military installation.

E9 It's the Army against the Navy, and that says it all.

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