Navy football coach Charlie Weatherbie is doing his best to avoid a quarterback controversy during the upcoming season.
After three weeks of spring practice that concludes Saturday with an intrasquad scrimmage, Weatherbie has named senior Ben Fay his No. 1 quarterback, with junior Chris McCoy as his backup.
The roles were reversed last year until McCoy, after a sensational start, faltered in mid-season. Fay started the last four games, including the season finale against Army.
"Once Fay was chosen co-captain this year, he kind of took over the team," Weatherbie said. "He not only leads by example on the field, but he is always encouraging his teammates. He's really taken charge."
Last season, Fay, a wiry 6 feet 1 and 198 pounds, completed 51 percent of his passes for 869 yards and rushed for an additional 227.
"Ben has had an outstanding spring," the coach said. "He's looked more poised and determined. He has done an excellent job of moving the team and getting it into the end zone. I don't think he had one turnover the first two weeks."
But Weatherbie is not discounting McCoy, who rushed for an NCAA-record 273 yards in his varsity debut against SMU and finished with 803 yards, a record for Navy quarterbacks.
"I'm certain Chris will get playing time this fall," Weatherbie said. "Every good team needs two solid players at every position, and we're fortunate to have Ben and Chris at quarterback."
Weatherbie said he has also considered shifting McCoy to running back to take advantage of his elusiveness.
"I've put it off this spring because I don't want to risk injury," he said.
A number of players have caught Weatherbie's eye this spring, most notably junior slotback Patrick McGrew, senior wide receiver Astor Heaven, sophomore defensive tackle Jason Snider and junior safety Charles Fisher.
"McGrew has had an exceptional spring running the ball," Weatherbie said of the 225-pounder from Alabama who saw limited action last season due to nagging injuries, but averaged 6.9 yards on 25 carries. "He's become more physical. He just has to stay healthy."
Heaven's forte last season was as a blocker, but the South Carolina native has shown this spring he is ready to blossom as a receiver.
Snider ranks as Weatherbie's "biggest surprise." A true freshman last year, Snider was converted from linebacker to right tackle and is pressing junior David Viger for the starting job.
Weatherbie's main concern remains the kicking game, particularly finding a replacement for Brian Schrum, who averaged 40.7 yards a punt.
Navy, which opens at Rutgers on Sept. 7, will play five of its first seven games on the road, if the meeting with Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland, is included. The Midshipmen are surprisingly the hosts at this "neutral" site.
"I can't think of a better place of beating Notre Dame than Ireland," cracked Weatherbie. "But frankly, I don't think there is a team on our schedule we can't beat."
Pub Date: 4/25/96