Navy tries to concentrate as Lafayette pays a visit

October 15, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

Hearing a member of the winless Naval Academy football team utter the word "overconfident" can set off all kinds of strange-sounding bells and alarms.

But that was the case at a news conference at the boathouse yesterday when junior fullback Monty Williams was asked to comment on the Midshipmen's game today in Annapolis against Lafayette College, whic also is 0-5 this season.

"Yes, overconfidence is definitely something we have to guard against," said Williams, who has shared the frustrations of a 10-game losing streak dating to a 31-3 victory over Colgate last October.

"We can't take Lafayette lightly just because they're a Division I-AA school. They've really got nothing to lose. But if they beat us, it would make their season."

Advised of Williams' remarks, Navy coach George Chaump smiled weakly and said, "If any of my guys are overconfident, we better get a reality check."

His team is favored because of having played superior competition, but Chaump knows how strongly Division I-AA schools can be motivated by a chance to upset a I-A opponent.

"I find the smaller schools usually over-achieve against bigger schools, but for us, it's a must win." he said. "We've got to try and jump-start our engines and start heading in the right direction."

Despite playing on different levels, the Leopards share many of the same problems as the Mids.

An inexperienced offensive line has made it difficult to capitalize on the skills of tailback Erik Marsh, the school's all-time rushing leader (3,987 yards). Marsh has been held to 402 yards in five games, with a long gain of 25 in last week's 27-15 loss to Dartmouth.

Combine Marsh's slow start with the growing pains of sophomore quarterback Shawn McHale, who has been intercepted eight times in the past three games, and it's easy to understand why the Leopards are searching for their first victory.

Losing this way is an unusual experience for Bill Russo, who, before this season, had posted a 79-58-3 record in 13 years as Lafayette's coach. In fact, his Leopards were picked to win the Patriot League.

"Actually, we thought things were coming together for us this year," Russo said. "But after our first two games, we lost junior quarterback Mike Talerico [sore elbow], who was our starter most of last season."

Still, Russo welcomes the opportunity to play Navy.

"It gives my players a chance to test themselves against a Division I-A school," he said. "We've had some real shootouts in past years with both Army and Navy. Unfortunately, the last time we played Navy, they had a guy named Napoleon McCallum carrying the ball."

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