Chaump leaves rout, Briner's firing behind

September 08, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

Naval Academy coach George Chaump tried yesterday to purge the memory of the opening-game 56-14 rout by San Diego State and stem any controversy over the abrupt firing of Greg Briner, his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

"There's no use looking back. We all know what happened against San Diego. We have to look forward. We have to accept the challenge and go full speed ahead," he said, adopting a Navy phrase.

But Chaump found himself answering more questions on the disastrous opener and Briner's dismissal than discussing Saturday's home opener against Virginia (0-1), which also is looking to rebound after a 41-17 loss to Florida State.

He would not elaborate on the "philosophical differences" leading to Briner's departure.

Navy sources said, however, it had as much to do with Briner's testy relationship with the players rather than his strategic contributions.

But Briner reportedly was close to starting quarterback Jim Kubiak and Navy's leading receiver Damon Dixon, who chose not to comment on the coach's firing yesterday.

Chaump named former Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, who had been coaching the running backs, to double as the passing coach. But he would not name a new offensive coordinator.

Briner said Monday that Chaump controlled the offense, but Chaump said that Briner has been in charge of the passing game since being hired last season.

Asked if he would now assume the role of offensive coordinator, Chaump said, "I don't worry about coordinators. I have enough manpower.

"I have two people upstairs charting plays all the time during a game. One guy is looking at fronts, charting and suggestingRplays, and I also have a secondary coach looking at the defensive secondary and checking tendencies.

"What I do between periods is to decide what to do, and what we want to see more of.

"It's a staff effort. I don't think one man can do everything, especially from the level of the football field. We work together, and I think you're successful when you're all on the same page. I may suggest a play, but I'm sure someone on my staff will jump in and suggest the same thing."

Before the season started, Chaump said three key areas of improvement he hoped to see were added maturity and leadership from Kubiak, an improved running game, and a reduction in turnovers that proved so costly in last year's 4-7 finish. None of this was evident against San Diego State.

Operating behind a revamped offensive line, Kubiak was intercepted three times in the first half and was sacked five times in falling behind 42-0 before producing two second-half touchdowns.

"We've got to settle him down," Chaump said of the senior quarterback who set 10 Navy passing records last year. "He's very excitable. We have to get him to relax."

Part of Kubiak's problems were related to his inexperienced line.

"We had a lot of individual breakdowns in our offensive line," said Chaump. "When you have all new guys, you can expect different guys to break down on a play.

"We had to switch [sophomore] Erasto Jackson from the defense to offensive tackle, and I think he'll be a great one. But you can't expect overnight miracles. There's no sense making changes, because right now these are the best people we have available. We just have to wait for Dean Wakeham to get healthy."

A projected starter, Wakeham is sidelined with strained ligaments in his left knee.

Chaump also said it was too early to judge the running game manned by new starters Omar Nelson and Monty Williams.

The seasoned secondary, expected to be one of the Mids' strengths, got burned repeatedly by the Aztecs. Most glaring was a 43-yard touchdown pass to end the first half.

"We were in a six-man prevent and we still got burned," said Chaump.

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